Paradise. Heaven. Bliss. All clichéd, but the only way to describe Laucala island. This place will have you at ‘Bula’ (the only greeting you’ll need to know in Fiji), just like a scene from Blue Lagoon – cerulean waters, untouched shores, towering palm trees and lush rainforest. Add to that luxury and top-notch service that has the potential to make everywhere pale in comparison. Set over 1,400 hectares, this South Pacific sanctuary features 25 traditional villas dotted around coconut plantations, pristine beaches and volcanic mountains. While some resort websites heighten expectations through clever imagery, here photos fail to do it justice.
The exclusive private island covers 12 square kilometres of dramatic landscapes overlooking coral reefs and endless unspoilt wilderness which is also home to the archipelago’s rare birds, toads, coconut crabs and even the odd goat. A 50-minute seaplane ride away from Nadi Airport, the seclusion and flawless hospitality makes this hideaway a favourite with the A-list, moguls and international sport stars.
Purchased by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, co- founder of Red Bull energy drinks from the estate of Malcolm Forbes in 2003 (whose remains are buried on a hill on the property), the amenities and activities are as good as it gets. Villas are comprised of sago palm leaves and coconut husk weaves, but the features are all luxury, with impeccable living spaces spilling on to manicured gardens and full size infinity pools, with personal buggies to traverse the enclave.
Get your bearings with a guided tour in one of the four-wheel drives that will take you on an hour-long island excursion to showcase the workings of this well-oiled machine. Drive past organic gardens, a dedicated wild orchid house and a farm with pigs, and Sulmtaler chickens from Austria, a cross breed of cattle Limousin and Hereford (in addition to a Wagyu herd), a hydroponic green house and a field of herbs which chefs pluck from daily to use in their dishes.
The attention to detail is not wasted – the food is delectable. One of the most breathtaking spots is at the Seagrass Restaurant serving pad Thai, pineapple lobster curry and tapioca coconut pudding. Try to snag the private deck for a romantic al fresco dinner as you watch the skies transition from gold-flecked clouds to Crayola streaks of bright pink.
For fine dining, look no further than Plantation House Restaurant, an elegant reconstruction of the original copra plantation. You’ll be transported to a quieter, simpler time as the lush breeze casts a serene spell over the coconut plantation. Wine lovers can visit the walk-in cellars during cocktail hour, boasting an ample collection of old and new world wines.
Executive Chef Anthony Healy creates his degustation menu around what is ripe for the picking on the day. A medley of cuisines, the feast began with yellow fin tuna tartare, avocado and radish, and a tomato consommé (picked just hours ago no doubt) with ricotta and asparagus. The walu or Spanish mackerel with wild pumpkin and dashi to follow was freshly line caught from the water around the islands, while the pork with cauliflower and cumin was also Laucala raised. The pre-dessert, coconut textures, make the most of what grows abundantly, followed by single-origin chocolate in sorbet, biscuit and mousse form.
The herbs, spices, flowers and fruit from the property also find their way into the Laucala Spa, and are combined to create its four signature scents from citrus trees, tropical blooms and indigenous spices used in the organic lotions and massage oils. The resort encourages guests to experience the back end of operations by offering classes at the Spa Kitchen so they can learn how to make the soap, shampoo, lotions and bath bombs in each villa.
A pond of lotus flowers leads the way to four spa suites, each with Vichy and bucket showers and private steam rooms. Treatments begin with a footbath using hibiscus, honey and a sugar-based scrub to gently massage. The Titobu deep tissue massage serves as a good introduction to cloud nine, maintaining balance in the body using techniques to loosen knots and blockages, focusing on tense areas.
Should you wish to remain in the cocoon of the spa longer, the Secret of the Wind package begins with a rich coconut milk bath to nourish the skin and ease you into the island pace of life. Take your time with a glass of bubbly while savouring vistas of the azure ocean below. This is followed by a Swedish massage to soothe muscles with tapping and rolling movements to stimulate the nervous system. Finally, the Truly Natural Facial comprising fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables from the island re-energises and freshens tired complexions, concluded with refreshing ginger lemongrass honey herbal tea.