“Bula means hello, good, welcome… it has many meanings, but all things that are good. “ Marica (Maretha) patiently explained to me, my second night in Fiji. “Vinaka is thank you, but it also has many meanings. Together, they mean many things, all of them good. Bula Vinaka; it’s all good!” Her smile so warm and sincere is reflected in all of the faces I have met in this enchanted place. Everyone smiles; everyone calls out Bula, wherever you go.
Smart Guy and I arrived at Matangi Resort three days ago and have been floating on a cloud ever since. The resort is on the private island of Matangi, owned and operated by the Douglas Family: Flora, Noel, (both 5th generation Fijians) and daughter Christene, who runs the office and handles arrangements with guests. Upon arrival, we were welcomed, as all guests are, with beautiful native song, fresh coconut juice, shell leis and wonderful smiling faces. And every minute since our arrival has been heaven on earth! The color of the water– how many shades of blue are there? The greens of the jungle and gardens, the flowers that are everywhere, the constant lull of the sea lapping the shore… there could not be a more peaceful, wonderful place– and if there is, I am perfectly content and happy to have landed here instead.
I won the airline tickets for this trip on Bucket List Publications (vinaka Lesley!), in a contest they hosted with Fiji Airlines, fifteen months ago. At the time we had a German exchange student arriving and our youngest child, Little Man, was entering his senior year of high school. It was not the right time to take a trip to Fiji– a trip that I’ve dreamed of since going to Australia in 1982, when I could not afford the stopover in Fiji. We have been very fortunate and lucky, to have done some remarkable travel as a family, but Fiji was always in the back of my mind. When I won the tickets it was truly stunning, but as we put it off part of me thought it might not happen.
However, this past spring we finally booked the air portion and started reading resort reviews on Trip Advisor. Honestly, the options were totally daunting! Even with free airfare, a trip to Fiji is not for the faint of heart, cost wise or travel wise– it took us 30+ hours to get here (4 planes, one van, and a boat), from the west coast! Of course, there are many options for accommodations– from back packer stays to resorts that can cost upwards of $5000 a night; trust me, we looked at most of them! There are 322 islands that make up Fiji, and after hours of reading, we decided to spend our two weeks at two different resorts. Turtle Island was our first choice, and when we were running out of steam, someone suggested we look at Matangi as the other destination.
After three days here, I can’t imagine wanting to go anywhere else!
Imagine a South Pacific paradise that is run as if you are good friends, or family, returning home. Imagine owners who share their stories– amazing tales of a Fijian princess and an Australian adventurer, who marry and buy an island in the 1800s, and the generations who have since loved and treasured that island. Imagine a family who has worked hard to make their dream of a creating a very special resort, that you get to be a part of that… this is all a part of Matangi. Admittedly, I’m not an expert; this is my first resort in Fiji. However, my husband and I don’t like too feel removed from the places we visit; we love to share in the culture and magic of a place. While we’re not naïve enough to believe that we are enjoying a purely authentic Fijian experience, it’s hard to imagine that any tourist can. However, if you are looking to find a piece of paradise, that is seamlessly operated and designed to make every moment peaceful and exceptional, it can be found here, at Matangi. From the staff in the beautiful open air dining room to the women who rake the beach, or work in the spa, or feed the animals, all day someone is calling out “Bula!” If you like privacy and quiet, then they respect that and give you your space; however, if you enjoy chatting with people who live here about Fijian culture and lives, they are warm and generous.
Tomorrow we will go to a private beach, Horsehoe Bay, where we’ll be able to explore the spectacular reef; enjoy a crescent-shaped beach all to ourselves, and take in the natural beauty of this stunning place. The staff will deliver our lunch at 11:30, but otherwise we will be on our own to enjoy this island paradise.
Bula Vinaka, Matangi!
If you are considering travel to Fiji, check out Matangi Private Island Resort– for the traveler who enjoys a truly cultural, completely relaxed exchange and experience, while still enjoying exquisite accommodations. Matangi is family owned and run and it really shows! Book directly with Christene Douglas: firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. Mention this post and receive a 7 night stay, for the cost of 5 nights. (good if mentioned through January 2015, and booked directly) Check out their website here: http://matangiisland.com/
Note: this is part one of what will be several posts. There are too many details to focus on, for one post. Instead, I wanted to introduce readers to this incredible place, and then take them along as we make new discoveries each day. All photos were taken with and used here, with permission of the people in them.
* I did not receive any goods or services in exchange for any reviews I’m writing here.
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