Mild Rover: Go your own way

Curated tours, cruises, resorts and reviews

Romantic adults-only resorts keep love afloat

The sun had just slipped down over the sea and a blaze of magenta was slowly lighting up the sky. A soft breeze ruffled the coconut palms above our open-air pagoda fronting the beach on a Fijian island. The cork popped on a bottle of champagne.

And from the hibiscus tree to our left, a musician silently slipped in with his guitar to play and sing, as a surprise, the love song I’d secretly nominated as my partner’s all-time favourite.

The stage was perfectly set for the most romantic evening of our lives. But somehow, somewhere between the first few notes, and my partner turning to me with a puzzled expression, things didn’t quite go to plan. I’d only had a vague idea how his favourite tune sounded, and so, it seemed, did our serenader.    

I hadn’t realised I’d nominated one of the trickiest songs ever, and while our crooner did his level best with the jazz standard My Funny Valentine, it was only when I whispered to Jimmy what he was playing that the confusion cleared from his face and, gamely, he tried to sing along to help him out.

When you’ve been in a relationship for 30-odd years, sometimes it can be hard to inject a little extra romance into your lives. So, when I saw a boutique adults-only resort in Fiji called the Lomani Island Resort – Lomani being Fijian for ‘in love’ – offering a series of ‘romance’ packages, I thought I’d give it a go.

Could this be a way, I thought, of bringing back the magic of those heady first days of fervour? Could our passion be rekindled by a beachside bliss break? Could time alone together be exactly what we need for … well, spending more time together in the years to come?

The secluded beachfront dinner for two, with the guitarist, was only one of the myriad options. Others included the room softly lit and decorated and perfumed with blood red hibiscus petals on our arrival, and chilled champagne waiting. Another was a giant heart drawn on the white sands of the glorious beach fronting the resort, again scattered with petals, and the word ‘LOVE’.

I’d resisted a couple of other suggestions. One was that we get married on the beach; it had been assumed, because my partner Jimmy and I have different surnames, that we weren’t already. They seemed almost disappointed to learn we were.

‘But that doesn’t matter,’ I was told. ‘You could renew your vows instead.’ Ah. It’s one thing having a classic song sung as a surprise. It’s perhaps a step too far to trap someone into an actual ceremony.

Jimmy, after all, had personal experience of that. He’d once worked on a short-lived TV show Surprise Weddings, where unsuspecting lovers were ambushed, in front of a live audience, and married. None of the couplings – no surprise there – ended  well. And I feared something similar could prematurely shatter, rather than shore up, our relationship, too.  

But Fiji, more than any other place I know on earth, really is the place for romance. It’s something to do with all those soft white beaches, the aqua-blue water, the swaying palm trees, the magnificent flame trees, the scent of magnolia and the Fijians themselves – so warm and friendly and eager, preferably when they know a tune and the words, to break into harmonious song.

It’s an island culture that’s made for reconnecting with loved ones, through staged surprises, relaxation or adventure. If you’re after paddleboarding side-by-side, partnering to sail a Hobie Cat, double-kayaking or snorkelling a deux amongst the brilliant coral and fish, it’s all there. If you want to lounge and read books together in the shade of palm fronds, that’s easy too. And if you’re keen simply to sit and hold hands as the sun sets, you won’t be alone.

Lomani is among Fiji’s newest resorts, having had a soft opening during COVID, and then a closing, then being rented out for three months by, ironically, the TV reality show Heartbreak Island. It didn’t say that on the brochure. Finally, it launched properly at the start of 2023. With only 30 bures, it’s small and intimate which lends itself to a romance speciality as well.

For instance, the spa at the moment comprises only one treatment room with two beds, so couples’ massages is the most popular treatment, with specialities including a Veilomani massage, Fijian Bobo or … and this is jumping the gun a little, I feel … a pregnancy massage. Alternatively, there’s massage in the pagoda on the beach. Meanwhile, a major new spa is being built to open at the end of 2024.

General manager Shelley White says the romance packages came about on the spur of the moment. The resort captured so many starry-eyed visitors’ attention, staff  were receiving requests constantly for events where proposals could be popped, or weddings held, and so they decided to formalise the offerings.

One of their best is a romantic picnic on a picturesque sandbank a 15-minute longboat ride from the resort. The boatman drops you in ankle-deep water so you wade onto the pristine white sand of the bank, then sets you up with bean bags to sit on, a small wooden table, and iced drinks and a picnic hamper of food.

Like any good lovers’ tryst, you can’t stay there too long before the waves start to lap you to swallow the bank back up, and you beat a hasty retreat. But like any brief encounter, it’s gorgeous while it lasts.

You can also walk up through the thick rainforest to the hilltop outlook to be seduced by the glorious views, clink glasses on a sunset cruise, go dewy-eyed on a dolphin safari, or spend some rather more upbeat time on the mid-sea platform Cloud 9. There’s a cooking class too to make the Fijian dish Kokoda (mahi mahi ceviche in coconut milk rather than a route march), taste some Kava – but not too much as that would put the kybosh on romance – and try your hand at fishing.

Alternatively, there are the huge bures to hide out in, with those beautiful King beds, outdoor showers as well as indoor, taking a skinny dip in the private plunge pool, or just floating around in there between sips of something nice in an icy glass. There’s also a table and chairs on the deck for lunches to be delivered by the resort’s restaurant and the sunloungers under an umbrella at the end of your long backgarden overlooking the beach.

Of course, with so few guest rooms, you rarely see another person on the beach when you’re there, and the water temperature is just delicious for frolicking.

Around the resort too, there are lots of places for lovers to meet. There are hammocks strung between coconut palms, daybeds alongside the swimming pool, and loungers everywhere.

All the staff are incredibly friendly, without overdoing it, and call you by your first names from almost the first day.

There’s a diverse demographic too, from young couples to older ones, and from all corners of the world. “Everyone likes a little romance in their lives,” says White. “At whatever stage that romance might be. Couples might come here at the beginning of their lives together, for a beautiful proposal when we can produce a ring at the beach, at dinner or even during a massage, anytime they’d like.

“Luckily no one has said No … yet! It’s a long way to come together if you’re not already sure you’re with the right person. Or they might come in the middle of their years together.”

Yet it’s conceivable that some might come near the end too. One young couple, who could well have been honeymooners sadly seemed to be arguing a lot, and regularly one would storm off without the other, or turn up to dinners at the lone restaurant, or drinks at the next-door bar, alone.

Happily, we later saw them at that most popular package, the dinner on the beach, being serenaded by guitar, and the next day we didn’t see them argue once.

Was that Fiji, or Lomani’s romance package, working its magic?

We’ll probably never know for sure. But it certainly worked for us, returning relaxed, refreshed and relishing the thought of the next decade together. 

And maybe now I’ll take the time to play My Funny Valentine a little more often. After all, it now holds special memories for us both. 

Sue Williams
Sue Williamshttp://www.suewilliams.com.au
Sue Williams is an award-winning journalist and author who’s written for all of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines and has published 25 books.

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