It Gives You Wings
You might recognize the name, and that’s because this former coconut plantation was once the private preserve of publishing potentate Malcolm Forbes. The 3,000-acre island was bought by the Austrian owner of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, in 2002 for $10 million, and then he turned it into his own personal paradise over the following years.
It finally opened to the public—well, as we explained, an extremely carefully culled public—in 2008, though it’s still quite hard to get to, and can handle only small, private planes landing on its small runway after a 50-minute flight from Fiji’s international Nadi Airport.
How Do You Say Bungalow in Fijian?
There are 25 bungalows, or bures, inspired by traditional Fijian architecture, with thatched conical roofs, and indoor-outdoor living spaces. But each one also has a private pool, indoor and outdoor showers, oversize outdoor stone or wooden bathtubs, and upscale furnishings that include both natural Fijian fabrics and dark-wood wicker loveseats and chairs sourced by London-based designer Lynn Hunt. There are also whimsical touches like seashell-inspired sofas (say that five times fast), plus a few spots of color in the form of throw cushions and eccentric light fixtures, though the underlying theme of the rooms is the understated elegance of white linens and dark wood furniture, all with an eye to native aesthetics.
Oh yeah. They also have plasma flat-screen televisions, Bose sound systems, totally stocked minibars.
The rooms, or residences as they’re called, come in five categories. The eleven Plantation Residences are the most spacious, with up to three bedrooms, private beaches, outdoor pavilions and private pools.
Seagrass Residences are located further from the beach on the island’s jungly interior, and are designed to blend in with the vegetation. Meanwhile, up on the hill are the Plateau Residences, which feel especially secluded and private thanks to their location, while the Peninsula Residences are closer to the public areas, though they have private beaches and ocean views.
Most people jockey for the signature Overwater Residences, however, which are built out over the sea, and have little touches like floating daybeds.
Though most rooms are one- and two-bedrooms, there is also a sprawling Hilltop Residence complex up a private driveway with six bedrooms and three baths, all boasting stunning 360-degree views of the island and the surrounding waters. It is comprised of a master residence and two individual and private guest villas that each have their own sun decks and private infinity-edge pools, as well as jacuzzis. Reserving the Hilltop Residence also gets you a private chef, a nanny and a chauffeur. That really does sound like our idea of paradise.
GSP: Golf, Spa, Play
As for the amenities, there is a huge 5,000-square-meter pool, an intimate spa atop one of the island’s modest hills, a David McLay Kidd-designed 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center for some galloping good times, a kids’ club with activity programs, and five restaurants for some variety.
The main large pool is divided into three areas: two relaxation free-form pool, a 25-meter-long lap pool that’s in a raised, enclosed glass cube (so you can critique swimmers’ strokes?), and is surrounded by coconut palms, and lounge chairs and daybeds shaded by umbrellas.
Laucala also has a Water Sports Centre with a fleet of craft including catamarans, sailboats, racing boats, deep-sea fishing boats for excursions on the open water, as well as equipment for kite-surfing, diving, snorkeling and jet skiing.
The spa specializes in combining traditional South Pacific rituals and ingredients along with modern therapeutic techniques. Its signature treatments use Fijian hot and cold river stones, volcanic scrubs from the islands, and mineral crystal therapy. It has four treatment villas with Vichy showers and steam rooms, a hot stone, a relaxation room, an outdoor bathtub and a private changing room with a shower. The spa’s garden is also home to a great collection of Fijian flowers, herbs, spices and fruits, many of which are incorporated into the treatments.
There are actually five distinct restaurants at the resort. For fresh, simply prepared seafood, hit the oceanfront Beach Bar, while the Rock Lounge serves nouvelle fusion-y finger foods, and the Pool Bar is the place for sunset cocktails. Seagrass restaurant, on a small peninsula, serves authentic Asian-influenced cuisine. If you’re out for a more formal evening, visit the reconstructed colonial Plantation House for a fancy multi-course meal that takes full advantage of the resort’s impressive and extensive wine cellar.
This is an island, after all, so resources are precious. That’s why great care was taken while redeveloping the island to preserve much of the habitat intact, and to use only 15% of the land for the resort itself, leaving nature to itself on the rest, and using the lush soil to help grow some of the fruit trees, herbs and plants that are used in the restaurants.
Rates here start at $3,800 per night for the one-bedroom villas, and shoot up to a cool $35,000 for the Hilltop Residence. Start saving…