Our trip was fantastic, probably the best we have ever taken. In good measure, much of this was the result of very careful attention to details by our Fiji travel agent, Jill, which we would never have found without Zicasso. Thank you! We would say that they had several business characteristics which we really appreciate: (1) really listened to us and probed to find out what we really wanted; (2) was not at all pushy -- if we said we did not want something, did not argue or try to push its own preferences; (3) gave us alternatives and really worked to provide suggestions, insights, warnings, and disclosure; (4) provided high quality "after care" -- many agents drop you the minute you've paid, but that was not the case with them: questions were answered within a matter of hours (usually overnight by email); and (5) wanted to hear all about our trip, what we liked, what we did not like, things that worked well, things that did not work well, pleasant and unpleasant surprises. The true "value added" of them is that it left us to enjoy our holiday without worrying about the details -- took responsibility for everything so that all we had to do was show up and relax. This was the very best aspect of using this Fiji travel agency.
They had recommended Taveuni Palms Resort ("TPR"), and this resort was completely beyond imagination -- the privacy, condition of facilities, appointments, attention to detail, the food and drink, and the care given to us was beyond our wildest expectations. The dedicated staff, the free-standing villas well away from each other, the alternative dining venues on the property dedicated to your villa, the peace and quiet. Wow! We cannot say enough. The villa and the discreet attention we received worked to make us reluctant to leave the resort, even though we came for diving, kayaking, hiking, and sightseeing. Nothing was rushed; everything was at our pace. Some guests might find TPR too quiet with not enough of a resort atmosphere -- but for people like us, who just wanted a lot of unstructured time, a world where everything revolved around us and out needs, and enjoyment alone with the person you love, nothing else, in our experience, has ever come close.
They had put us in touch with TPR, and TPR contacted us with a questionnaire which was used to tailor, or personalize, our experience. The questions were detailed -- foods we liked, foods we did not, drinks we liked, drinks we did not, experiences we wanted, etc. I was even advised to bring my own coffee if I was fussy about my coffee (I am)! The freshly baked bread every morning and the jar of freshly baked cookies were outstanding. They also undertook, with our permission, to forward this questionnaire to Royal Davui Resort ("RDR"), so that RDR could prepare for us.
Our trip consisted of seven nights at the TPR and six nights at the Royal Davui Resort ("RDR"). Our big mistake was that we went to TPR first and then visited RDR. RDR was a very nice resort, and had we never experienced TRP, we would probably be writing rave reviews of RDR. RDR had none of the intimacy or careful attention to guests that TPR lavishes on guests. For example, RDR advertised a "pillow menu" and there were several choices on the menu, but we could not obtain any pillows other that the ones that came with the villa; similarly, we told the RDR that the duvet on the bed was too heavy and that we were always waking up in a puddle of sweat -- despite several requests for a lighter duvet or a light blanket, we only got satisfaction for the last two nights of the trip. RDR had many more typical resort experiences -- happy hour, crab races, kava ceremony, cooking demonstrations, live music.... These may be of interest to many guests, but after TPR, we were not ready to mingle with other guests. RDR does have beautiful rooms and TPR could learn from RDR's use of mosquito netting. Not only is the netting in the room very romantic, but it does allow guests to open the window and listen to the surf and island sounds. We loved that experience, as well as the outdoor jacuzzi and huge indoor bath.
TVP really tried to cater to our dining desires -- the food was fresh, tasty, and wonderfully served. However, we would have wished for far greater variety and quantity of vegetables, and less reliance on American type cuisine. RDR did much better on providing excellent salads, but came up short on the presentation and variety of foods. The portions of fish served at RDR were too big, almost grotesque. Although we are big eaters, neither of us could finish the fish or meat dishes served at dinner; at TPR, the portions served were much more tasteful -- if we wanted an additional helping, that was always available.
We would note that RDR managers, Julie and Daryl, were highly responsive to any issue we brought to their attention. When we stated that our dive experience on one occasion had been "lackluster" they offered a complementary dive in compensation; when the weather prohibited my wife from thoroughly drying her diving gear, RDR management collected her gear and hung it in the generator room -- it was soon dry!
On diving, I would say that we were not that impressed with Fiji. I am not a diver, but my wife is an advanced diver having completed over 200 dives through out Asia. She was very happy to see a large number of sharks (not from a cage or a shark feed, which she definitely does not like), but the variety and quantity of fish, turtles, shellfish, coral, etc. were better in the other areas we have visited. Is this Fiji, or the season, or just the areas the dive masters took us? At Taveunui Ocean Sports, the dive tour operator we used while staying at TPR, the owner and chief dive master, Julie Kelly, was excellent. Had Julie been looking after one diver only, I think my wife's experiences would have been far more memorable. In the last two years, we have visited other dive tour operators where the dive masters are nationally, or even regionally, famous -- those experiences were vastly better than we experienced in Fiji. At RDR, we felt the dive masters were too stressed or stretched too thinly -- as a result, the dive masters were contending with divers with varying levels of ability, which really does not work for an advanced diver; on top of that, the dive masters at RDR were reluctant to dive at depths greater than 25 meters. Since my wife is very comfortable in the 40 to 60 meter range, she was disappointed.
Finally, does Fiji have nice beaches? Neither of the resorts at which we stayed had anything in the way of a memorable beach -- small and stony is how we would classify them. From the air, it seems like Fiji has a lot of long sandy beaches, but these did not feature on this holiday. Admittedly, we did not put beach combing or sunbathing on a beach as priorities for this vacation -- maybe that is why we did not visit any nice beaches.
How did you find out about Zicasso?
I found out about Zicasso through an Internet search. I have been extremely pleased and have already recommended the site to many friends. Also, I found an app that allows me to create an icon for Zicasso for my iPhone and iPad. I have done this so that I can show my friends the site and explain about our great experience.