These are some of the best things to do at Fiji’s Nanuku Resort

After learning I’m the only one who turned up to the studio for morning yoga, instructor Sisilia Cece Nasiga asks if I’d rather do the session in the great outdoors. “Yes!” I exclaim without hesitation — I’m only here for a short time so why be indoors when I could be staring out at the natural beauty of Fiji. 

A few minutes later, the former Olympian, and Commonwealth and Pacific Games medalist is leading me through peaceful stretches and meditation exercises overlooking the scenic coast of the 500-acre Nanuku Resort.  

Feel at home

From the chanting warriors who greeted me upon arrival to the personalized message in stones at the bottom of my private plunge pool arranged to say “Bula Ann,” the team at the luxury retreat on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu is all about making guests feel at home. Here, Bula extends beyond the Fijian greeting for hello and welcome to a sense of belonging. 

Back in my one bedroom villa, I’m faced with my next challenge — deciding between two tempting options — will it be the indoor or the outdoor shower today? Naturally, I keep the trend going and freshen up in the sun surrounded by lush green foliage. This is the life. 

Island oasis 

The next morning, dolphins are jumping out of the water and flipping up in the air before submerging again next to our speedboat, as if to be escorting us on our journey. 

We’re travelling from Nanuku Resort, to another piece of paradise, the nearby uninhabited island of Nanuku, the inspiration behind the resort’s name. 

This lush tropical island is an idyllic day escape for guests offering hammocks in the sand and unbelievable snorkelling and swimming. It’s also possible to spend the night camping under the stars. After a picnic in the sand, I walk around the entire island feeling like I’m living in a postcard. 

You’ve had cava… but have you heard of kava? 

Over breakfast one morning, where my cappuccino is served with my name in the foam, I overhear some guests talking about how they stayed up late over a bowl of cava. In my mind I’m picturing a group of ladies drinking out of a punch bowl with multiple bottles of sparkling wine emptied into it but I’m completely wrong. 

I’m informed that in Fiji it’s all about kava, not cava, an earthy-tasting drink that plays an important role in Fijian culture. It’s customary to sit around a large bowl with a village leader and socially drink kava, which is prepared from the pounded root of a pepper plant species. 

The first chance I get, I try the drink for myself, and it provides a numbing sensation on my tongue. It’s just one of the many immersive experiences that makes my stay memorable from learning how to husk and scrape a coconut, to trying my hand at cooking a meal in bamboo shoots and witnessing a special fire walking ceremony. Another highlight is trying a local delicacy called kokoda, essentially Fijian ceviche with spiced coconut milk.

When departure day arrives too soon, I’m sad to leave, but I’m already devising a plan to come back as the entire staff at the property gathers to sing and see us off as we climb into the bus. 

Getting there: Fiji’s national carrier, Fiji Airways, is gearing up to launch twice-weekly flights from Canada this month. The new nonstop service between Nadi and Vancouver will start on November 25 with the two-cabin class Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Along with operational efficiency and having meals served in biodegradable containers, Fiji Airways is also offsetting its carbon footprint with the ‘A Tree For Every Take Off’ initiative. The airline has planted 55,000 mangroves to date and is targeting another 50,000 over the course of this year. Fiji Airways also offers day trips where customers can plant mangroves to offset their carbon footprint.

Day tripping: Picture a floating thatched bar in the middle of the most serene waters in the Mamanuca Islands, and you’ll find Seventh Heaven. The ultimate day trip is located 45 minutes by boat from Port Denarau, which is in close proximity to Nadi International Airport. The overwater lounge has a bar and restaurant, water activities like snorkelling and stand up paddleboards, and loads of loungers on a two level deck. If you dare, you can jump off the Leap of Faith, a five metre high lookout from the top deck. For those seeking an Instagram-worthy shot, you won’t be able to stop taking pictures!  

What’s in your cup? 

Drink up a local enterprise that’s making a difference on the ground in Fiji

The founding values behind Bula Coffee — a coffee production company in Fiji — extend far beyond providing a good cup of morning joe. As Luke Fryett, whose job title cleverly reads ‘Man on the Ground,’ explains, while giving the world a great shot of coffee, Bula Coffee is “all about giving Fijians a better shot at life.”

What started out over a decade ago as a small enterprise working with one family in one village in Fiji has since expanded across 38 villages and buying coffee off 5,000 people annually — providing a significant number of Fijians with additional sources of revenue.   

“It’s more than money — we exist to give people a hand up — to give people a better shot at life,” he said. “To give people access to education, to give them financial independence. Money matters, but it’s more than money. We are changing lives one cup at a time.”

More recently, Bula Coffee launched the Crop to Cup Coffee Tour, giving travellers “the chance to not only taste Fiji’s wild harvest coffee and see how we process it, but also the chance to become a part of our story, becoming invested in our work and becoming part of the change we are making in Fiji.”

Along with learning about how to get a coffee cherry ready for a morning brew, visitors can learn about how every cup of coffee makes a difference in the local economy. One example of how getting involved in the coffee business has made a positive impact is in a local community where kids would get to their boarding school by floating down the river in a tire — often getting soaked in the process. 

“They used their coffee money to buy every kid in the village a waterproof bag, and a small cooker, so now the older kids can cook for the younger kids, during the week,” he said. “They also built a much better raft with tires all around it secured properly so the kids can keep dry… This is why money matters, but it’s more than money. It’s about empowering communities to keep their kids safe, to keep them dry, to let them have food during the week. Allowing the kids to focus better at school because they aren’t hungry, aren’t worried about their wet clothes. This is why every cup counts.


STORY BY: ANN RUPPENSTEIN


This hotel in Grand Cayman is home to the island’s only sushi spot

With travellers permitted to enter the Cayman Islands without the need of any additional documents or health-related steps due to COVID-19, the destination is open for business and Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa is welcoming all travellers looking for a luxurious and memorable Caribbean getaway.   

Occupying the most expansive stretch of Grand Cayman’s famed Seven Mile Beach, the beachfront Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa features 343 guestrooms and suites, boasting the island’s largest inventory of guest rooms on Seven Mile Beach with Caribbean Sea views.  

Guests also have access to an array of wellness amenities including a daily activities schedule, morning beach yoga, a 24-hour WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio, The Hibiscus Spa, featuring 13 treatment rooms and a menu of over 60 wellness treatments, as well as a recently renovated freshwater pool – the largest in Grand Cayman. With Red Sail Sports located on the property’s beach, guests are also just steps away from an array of watersports activities.  

Travellers arriving to Grand Cayman will now have access to the island’s only restaurant specializing in sushi, ceviche, and poke with Westin Grand Cayman’s woto, which officially opened in June 2021. Led by Chef Ronald DeLa Torre and his award-winning culinary team, woto offers the freshest and most delectable chef-crafted sushi, ceviche, and poke the island has to offer. A new Sunday Brunch offering, available for hotel guests and locals, is available at woto from 12 – 3 p.m. with a choice of three menu items, a dessert and bottomless prosecco for $75 per person. Woto is also open daily from 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm. 

The property is also home to the Cayman Coffee Exchange, which recently underwent a one-million-dollar renovation. The grab-and-go café is the perfect place for guests to stop by for a quick pick-me-up as they head off for a day of sightseeing in the Cayman Islands. Cayman Coffee Exchange offers freshly brewed coffee, pastries, breakfast burritos and more.  

News of the removal of travel restrictions comes at a perfect time as Cayman Airways will start offering nonstop flights to Grand Cayman from Los Angeles International Airport on Nov.5, 2022, making travel from the West Coast to the Cayman Islands much easier.  

In honor of the new flight option, Westin Grand Cayman is offering a 20 per cent discount and a $300 resort credit per stay (with six-night min) now through Nov. 30 for guests booking a stay from Nov. 6, 2022 – March 4, 2023 traveling via Cayman Airways’ new direct flights. The promotion can be accessed with promo code YX1 as well as via booking page and boarding passes must be presented upon check in. 

Eight of the best reasons to visit Greece this autumn

Magical Greece is known to keep well-hidden secrets for those who care to look closely. We’ve done just that: looked closely and selected the most special properties and adventures for those still looking for a last-minute fall getaway.

Variety Cruises

Variety Cruises, Greece’s leading small ship cruise line, has for the first time in its 70-year history, revealed a Hiking Collection Cruise that offers the best of many worlds: cruising in the Greek seas, hiking, and insider insight into the history and stories from Ancient Greece.
 
Guests will be joined on board by outdoor specialists on the history of the Peloponnese and a resident archaeologist. The week-long cruise will depart from Athens on Nov. 4, then through the Corinthian gulf, encircle the Peloponnese and return back to Athens. Stops will include Nafplion —Greece’s first capital city— and Ancient Epidaurus, Itea for the famed oracle Delphi, strikingly beautiful and equally mysterious, Monemvasia and Pylos. Rates start at 1,250€ per person.

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, Porto Heli 

One of Greece’s best-kept secrets is Porto Heli in Argolis, situated in the eastern part of the Peloponnesian peninsula. Just over a two-hour drive from Athens, Porto Heli is home to Nikki Beach Resort & Spa. The resort perfectly combines unique lifestyle and culinary experiences with relaxation and discovery. Tucked away in this beautiful corner of Greece, Nikki Beach is the perfect base for excursions in the Saronic Gulf and road trips in the surrounding ancient sites including Mycenae, Nafplion, Corinth and Nemea and of course the architectural masterpiece of ancient theater of Epidaurus. Guests can easily catch a water taxi to Spetses and Hydra, two of Greece’s most beautiful and aristocratic islands, the latter of which is home to Jeff Koons’s Apollo, a solo exhibition on view at DESTE’s Project Space at the island’s old Slaughterhouse.
 
Nikki Beach remains open until Oct. 15 and invites guests to stay active and rejuvenate with a special Autumn Getaways offer which included one complimentary lunch or dinner per day, access to Nikki Beach with complimentary use of sun beds and umbrellas, and complimentary Wi-Fi and use of the gym.

Ducato di Oia Boutique Hotel, Santorini

Ducato di Oia has opened a new restaurant, Barozzi, situated on top of the caldera and overlooking the picturesque Armeni harbour. Barozzi, whose name was inspired by an aristocratic Venetian family who were also lords of Santorini and Thirassia, invites guests to participate in a gastronomic experience mixing modern Cycladic flavors with Japanese influences punctuated by local Mediterranean bounty.
 
Curated by renowed George Stylianoudakis, the menu includes everything from simple and renowed tzatziki and fava spreads to Fricassee: a stew with a Japanese Wagyu A5 Tartare, uni hollandaise with sea urchins and dill emulsion. Helming the restaurant is Executive Chef George Stylianoudakis, who has more than 25 years of experience in gastronomy.
 
The 12-seat restaurant will remain open until the end of November, and is open for breakfast from 8:30-11 a.m. and from 1-10 p.m. for lunch and dinner. Ducato di Oia will remain open throughout the year, inviting guests to experience Santorini in a much different set up than the mainstream under-the-August-sun.

Magma Resort, Santorini

Magma Resort Santorini, In the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, opened its doors this August and awaits those who want to discover the tranquil side of Santorini. Magma, the first Hyatt-affiliated hotel in the Greek islands, integrates the island’s local character while embodying a sustainable modern design with a warm and comfortable feel to it. It is designed to incorporate organic shapes from black volcanic stones alongside contrasting off-white geometric prisms, reminiscent of Santorini’s volcanic ash that is evident around the island. The resort’s culinary experience, Magma by Spondi, is curated by the renowned French Chef Arnaud Bignon and honors local agriculture and produce in a modern yet stylish way. Magma by Spondi is a sister to the Athenian Spondi restaurant, which celebrates two Michelin stars both won during the Chef’s time as head chef.

Lindian Village Resort, Rhodes

Lindian Village is situated in southeast Rhodes, bordering a nature reserve and backed by undulating hills. Open until the end of October, the five-star resort features 188 accommodations arranged into neighborhoods where archetypal Greek cubist whitewashed houses, cobblestoned alleyways, and flower-filled grounds create a sense of place. Rooms include more than 70 suites with private pools or verandas with Jacuzzis.

Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, Elounda, Crete

The iconic Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, Elounda Crete set on a coastal hillside in northeast Crete, promises a destination abounding with rich history, intriguing culture and wild natural beauty. Through the end of October, the resort will continue to bring a variety of thoughtfully curated services to the legendary resort showcasing timeless Cretan culture, local sustainable gastronomy, unforgettable family experiences and au courant amenities while further celebrating the region’s legacy. Guests can enjoy up to 15 per cent on rates with the Autumn Delight offer, which also includes daily complimentary buffet breakfast at the Olea restaurant with the utterly unique view of Spinalonga Island, a National Monument of Greece.

Cretan Malia Park

Proudly local, enveloped by an idyllic locale and the bearer of a finely crafted Greek identity, Cretan Malia Park presents a hideaway in every sense, welcoming families and couples alike. From its boundless slow-paced aura, carefully aligned with the tempo of the island, to an authentically Cretan gastronomic experience, Cretan Malia Park will remain open until the end of October, inviting guests to discover it as a microcosm of the island on which is resides — an accurate and detailed snapshot of Crete, where travellers are offered ample opportunity to explore, experience and live.

Cosme Resort, Paros

Photo shoot May 08, 2022

Set in the soulful, whitewashed village of Naoussa—the jewel of Paros—with the clear-blue Aegean at its feet, the brand-new Cosme embraces the energy of the sea and reciprocates the joyful pulse of the town. The architecture by ID Laboratorium reflects the shapes of the surroundings, including the iconic half-moon pool that mirrors the bay and the meandering pathways that recall Naoussa, inspiring chance encounters and opening up possibilities. It’s also home to Greek-American Andria Mitsakos’s Anthologist boutique celebrating Greek artisanal craft, which Vogue called “impeccably curated.”

Birding is back: see why avian spotting is now a global trend

Observing birds for personal enjoyment, photography, or checking them off a life list, has emerged as a growing (and to some, an addictive) pursuit. 

The act of birding has discarded its antiquated image of geeks and dowdy couples wearing floppy hats and rhyming off facts about the mating habits of a Wilson’s Snipe.

In fact, the quest to see birds in the wild has become a global, multi-generational obsession. According to the most recent survey conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), there are an estimated 16 million travelling birders (out of 45 million bird-friendly people) spending approximately $40 billion in the United States alone, proving that birding is here to stay. 

Birds are the most accessible form of wildlife to see, and birders want to see birds everywhere on the planet. The great news is that travellers can combine birding with almost everything else they do on vacation, whether that means relaxing on the beach, hiking a trail or exploring a new destination. For example, on a recent visit to Oaxaca, Mexico, my friend and I discovered that aside from the beauty of the city’s historic core, the trees throughout the area were brimming with Cinnamon hummingbirds. And in Antigua, I took photos of the bougainvillea, frangipani, and flamboyant foliage at Ffryes Beach, but it was really the blue-chinned sapphire hummingbirds that made this blissful, colourful scene even more enchanting.  

For some, birding equates to the pursuit of wellness; an avian equivalent of the Japanese term ‘Shinrinyoku’ (forest bathing). A string of song from an Eastern meadowlark in Ontario, Canada; a flash of colour from a vermilion flycatcher in San Blas, Mexico; a glimpse of a Scarlet ibis in Curaçao, or a close encounter with a Cuban tody in Cuba’s Zapata Peninsula, stimulate the endorphins and produce feelings of excitement and happiness. 

The ultimate reward

James Turland, a bird guide I met at the Point Pelee Bird Festival, referred to birding as the ultimate treasure hunt.  “When you wake up and listen to the ‘dawning chorus’, as the birds greet the sunrise, you never know what you might see and hear,” he mused. “Even at the same destination, every day is a new game, with new excitement and new challenges.”  And we know this to be true, having walked the famous Pipeline Road in Panama’s Soberania National Park many times. One day it’s White-tailed trogons, fasciated antshrikes and Crimson-crested woodpeckers, while the next day, along the same route, observers can find squirrel cuckoos, broad-billed motmots, and Purple-throated fruitcrows. 

Some birders pride themselves on owning ultra-expensive zoom lenses, cameras, binoculars and field scopes, while others are perfectly happy with simple equipment to capture the spirit of their adventure, and this includes point-and-shoot cameras and cell phones. In addition, birding apps can help to identify birds, and recognize birds by their songs: The “yoink-yoink” of the crested guan in Costa Rica; the “hear me, see me, here I am” call of Jamaica’s Blue-headed vireo; and the “chonk, chonk, chonk” call of a White-tailed nightjar in Antigua.

The common set of skills that unite all birders are listening, spotting, patience, a healthy dose of enthusiasm, a love of nature and good, old-fashioned luck. For Canadians, the Caribbean remains one of the top destination getaways and each island boasts an eyeful and earful of both migratory and endemic avian discoveries.

One of the largest frigate bird colonies in the world can be found in Barbuda. The tiny bee hummingbird, the smallest in the world, visits the flowers in Cuba. The Red-billed streamertail is a native of Jamaica, while the Barbados bullfinch can only be found on that island.  Travellers can meet hundreds of species throughout the region, including bananaquits, cuckoos, parrots, parakeets, snail kites, saltators, orioles, ospreys, hawks, herons, egrets, warblers, whistling ducks, woodpeckers, vireos, tanagers and more.

Some birders enjoy the camaraderie of travelling on a customized birding trip, while others may feel perfectly at home on a family vacation, where the informal opportunity to spot and hear birds takes the imagination to new heights.  

The mantra of the avian adventurer is that ‘birding is not a destination; it’s a journey’.  And that journey dovetails nicely into wonder, serendipity, colour, song, and ultimately, peace of mind.  

—BY STEVE GILLICK




THE BEST OF “Bubble Travel”

QUESTION:

What’s better than spending time with your family-and-friend bubble in Muskoka?

ANSWER:

Taking the Holiday of a lifetime with your bubble to that bucket-list destination you have always dreamed about!

The term “bubble travel,” referring to travellers who want the safety and security of travelling within their own trusted circle of family and friends, may have emerged from pandemic life, but Goway Travel, one of North America’s most experienced travel companies, has been specializing in private guided journeys, personalized vacations, and tailor-made tours to exotic destinations for more than 50 years.  

“My best ever vacations have been with our family and close friends,” says Bruce Hodge, founder and president of Goway Travel. “When our children were teenagers, we did a private-guided, personalized safari with friends – just us, our two families – in Botswana. It was magical. Then there was the private villa in Tuscany, the jungles of Ecuador combined with a Galapagos cruise, and a river cruise in Myanmar where we were swarmed by locusts one evening. Just a few of the wonderful places and interesting experiences we have been fortunate to share with family and friends.” 

After more than a year of lockdown and with an end to travel restrictions in sight, isn’t it time to start planning your ultimate pandemic payback trip? Well, when you’re ready to travel again, Goway is ready to help. Contact your favourite travel professional or a Destination Specialist at Goway (1-800-387-8850 or [email protected]) and be sure to mention “Muskoka challenge.” 

GET INSPIRED

Looking for a little inspiration? Visit goway.com for a list of all the world-wide destinations Goway offers. In the meantime, here are a few of our top travel ideas to whet your appetite for travel: 

DESTINATIONS TO BRAG ABOUT

Like Easter Island, Chile; Papua New Guinea; Arnhemland, Australia; Komodo Island, Indonesia; and Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.

ULTIMATE ISLANDS ESCAPES

To Tahiti, the Maldives, Bali, or the Greek islands.

BOUTIQUE & PRIVATE CRUISING

In the Fiji islands, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, or the Galapagos Islands.

PRIVATE LUXURY SAFARIS

In east and southern Africa, in Australia’s Outback, or across India.

DIFFERENT RIVER CRUISES

On the Amazon, Mekong, and River Nile by Dahabiya.

LUXURY & UNIQUE TRAIN JOURNEYS

On the Venice Simplon Orient Express, Eastern & Oriental Express, Tsar’s Gold Trans Siberia, Pride of Africa, and the Indian Pacific.

MEET BRUCE!

Bruce, a young research economist from Australia, became a tour guide in Europe, where he met his future wife, Claire, from South Africa – soon after (1970), they immigrated to Canada and started Goway Travel. One of their ultimate highlight trips was personally escorting a 30-day luxury Cape-to-Cairo journey in 2016. The Hodge family owns a cottage on Lake Rosseau.