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Laucala Resort, Laucala Island, Fiji
A private island with oversize villas overwater, on cliffs and a hilltop estate, private pools, yachts, spa, David McLay Kidd 18-hole championship golf course, its own farm, and even a submarine. Its history dates back to HMS Bounty and spans two of the world’s most famous business moguls.
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February 2017 - Special Report - Laucala Island
Back To The South Pacific…
Last week we followed the path of Captain William Bligh and then Marlon Brando to a small island in French Polynesia that is now a private island resort, The Brando.
This week we again follow Captain Bligh and the HMS Bounty as he traveled to Fiji although he never set foot on Laucala Island. It was later purchased by Malcolm Forbes as a private island for the publishing baron and where his ashes were buried when he died in 1990. It remained under Forbes family ownership for 31 years until billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who owes his fortune to the energy drink Red Bull, bought it and (with five years and tens of millions of dollars, according to reports) turned it into a very exclusive luxury resort that has become a favorite retreat for the private jet set. There are only 25 villas with the smallest over 3,000 square feet. There is an 18-hole David McLay Kidd golf course (It only sees about 150 rounds per year), over a dozen boats of all shapes and sizes, including a submarine. There are even glass bottom kayaks.
After being damaged in a cyclone, it re-opened this past July after millions of more dollars in updates and repairs. After you read our report, you’ll see why Laucala is consistently at or near the very top of virtually every best island resort list, and how it’s possible to combine the height luxury with rustic nature.
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In This Issue:
3. Restaurants and Bars
9. For Children
10. Recent Awards
11. Getting There
12. Key Contact
13. DGAE Library
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Laucala Resort, Fiji
Laucala Resort is a 3,500-acre private island located on Laucala Island in Fiji with just 25 uber luxury villas, accessible by its own
airport. Each villa is different, designed with an eye to traditional Fijian style
and all come with private pools set amidst the palms of coconut plantations, white
sand beaches, turquoise lagoons and lush green mountains. Those who have been are unanimous this is a “must visit” if you like islands, beaches and unique getaways with lots of activities and soft adventure. Eighty percent of consumables are self-sustainable, and ownership prides itself
on a philosophy which brings elements of the island into each guest experience. For example, produce is raised and grown organically on the island. The farm-to-table concept in its five restaurants and bars offer a wide choice of international and local cuisines, complemented by
an extensive wine cellar. There is a 240-acre farm on the island. "What I loved most was the fact that it felt like a completely bespoke island experience. Every day was tailored to our personal taste and nothing was ever too much trouble. Staff were ready and waiting to assist. The yoga schedule was when and where I wanted it. No request was too big,” says Yvonne Verstandig, co-founder of Australia’s Executive Edge Travel.
Laucala is best known among its VVIP clientele for a multitude of sporting and cultural
activities for guests of all ages. From an 18-hole championship course, organic spa, tennis,
horseback riding, yoga, pilates, diving, sailing, hiking, biking, trekking to meet indigenous artists, there is lots do, or of course, nothing if that’s your preference. If you stay longer (recommendations are at least seven days) you can make off-island forays.
The island has one of three DeepFlight Super Falcon submarines in the world. Laucala Water Sports Center has diving (with multiple dive options), snorkeling, jet skiing, kite-surfing, kayaking (in glass bottom boats), fishing,
sailing equipment and more. The center additionally has its own fleet of 14 boats for guests.
Andrew Harper voted Laucala “Best Hideaway in the World.” There is not a single complaint on Trip Advisor, where it gets 100% 5-star ratings, something I’ve never seen for any other hotel on the review site.
Omar Cherif, CEO and Founder of O.C. Special + Travel in Paris and Los Angeles, says Laucala is perfect for takeovers with groups of up to 60. If you are coming from North America or Europe, he says Laucala is a good combination with Australia and New Zealand, particularly since it has its own private airport. Cigar Aficionado quotes luxury travel advisor Chad Clark as calling Laucala, “Pure Paradise.” He continued, ”This island is Fantasy Island. The most exclusive and luxurious island resort in the world, period. It has five restaurants, a championship golf course, a fleet of boats/yachts, and its own submarine—for 25 villas.”
Vogue Australia writes, “Most of the resort’s 25 villas (map above) hug the
coast on cliffs, plateaus, beaches of an
old coconut plantation, while the sprawling
principal residence surveys the island from
a more remote hilltop. The setting is truly spectacular; all of them
provide total seclusion.”
Last year, Conde Nast Traveler named Laucala as the resort it most recommended readers to visit. "Less than an hour by private plane from Fiji"s main
airport-and a world away from everything else-lies
Laucala Island, a seven-mile-long atoll with an
almost unbelievable 16 staff for each of the resort’s 25
villas. Even when Laucala is ‘full,’ there's a good chance
you won't see another guest, whether you're snoozing
on a secluded beach, horseback riding through coconut
groves, or exploring reefs in the resort's two-passenger
submarine. Yep, you read that right: submarine.”
Included in the rate is breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar, drinks and house wine list, health bar, welcome spa
sports and activities: golf, tennis, horseback riding, sailing with catamarans and sailboats, inner reef sunset cruise on the resort’s sailing boats, inner reef boat activities, water-skiing, inflatable’s, wake
boarding, trawling, jet skis and underwater scooter, Submarine DeepFlight excursion, windsurfing and paddle boards, sea kayaks, mountain bikes, fitness center, yoga, cooking
classes, and kids club. Villa
Amenities include WiFi in the villas and restaurants, designated buggy
per villa, daily laundry and dry cleaning services, air conditioning, fully stocked mini bar and
health bar per bedroom and lounge, iPod and iPhone docking stations, Bose home
entertainment system, (audio and video), Satellite TV in each bedroom and lounge with four in-house
movie channels, swimming pool and yoga deck.
Services include private cook, chauffeur, nanny, housekeeping, and Tau service. Each guest (16 years old and above) receives a 60 minute spa massage as a welcome gift.
Plantation Restaurant’s Specialty Premium Wine List, imported delicatessen items such as caviar, foie gras, cigars, premium spirits; private sports lessons with instructor/dive courses, arrival and departure flight, scenic flights, half and full day yachting, and telephone calls.
Cherif says, even his most jaded clients are wowed by Laucala. “Clients who have everything life can offer are still amazed by the beauty of nature, by the smile of happy Fijian islanders,” he says.
As the locations and style of the various accommodations varies, I recommend you spend a bit of time deciding on which villa is right for you. The three travel advisors I’ve quote all know the different villas intimately and at the end I’ve provided you the direct contact information of the MD as well.
The Hilltop Estate is likened to a “resort within a resort,” situated atop the high green hills of the island. The views, unique atmosphere, and unusually designed main villa with its own panoramic view, landscaped garden and two spacious guest villas all work together to form one oversized private “estate” on the hilltop.
The main villa features a master bedroom, lounge, dining room, library, outdoor pavilions and lap pool, and two one-bedroom guest villas feature one separate pool and private kitchen area. There is nearly 13,000 sq. ft. of living space and the entire complex covers nearly 120,000 sq. ft. Verstandig says, The Hilltop Estate is perfect for those of you who want to be away from everyone else or travel with bodyguards and security.
The Overwater Villa provides the unique views of those traditional overwater bungalows you’ve seen in places like Tahiti and perhaps stayed in, but without long walks over a hot jetty and with more privacy. Cherif says this and the Peninsula Villa (below) are the best for seclusion if you are seeking a romantic hideaway.
The two-bedroom villa appears to float above the emerald-green lagoon, allowing you to reside in luxury whether relaxing on the spacious terrace, bathing in the hot tub, or swimming in the large private pool which is carved directly into the rocks of the shore. Verstandig says, she would not recommend this villa if you have very young children and are concerned about the direct drops from the deck into the water below.
The Peninsula Villa is a luxurious mansion that resembles an “island on an island” surrounded by green hills, a white sand beach, the waters of the South Pacific and plenty of space for privacy.
The villa’s spacious living areas are connected by wooden bridges that offer spectacular views from every angle. The private pool, concealed beach and jetty guarantee privacy. Cherif likes the villa’s 180 degree views and also if you want uber seclusion, its private beach. He notes, if you or anyone in your party have mobility issues, you might not want to choose The Peninsula Villa as it is spread across three levels connected by steps. Verstandig agrees that if you are looking for a secluded love nest, The Peninsula Villa is the top choice.
Plantation Villas (11 villas)
Plantation Villas are incorporated into the old coconut plantation positioned on a private
beach area, ranging from 3,330 to 6,500 sq. ft. Each of the (6) one-bedroom villas, (4) two-bedroom villas and (1) three-bedroom
villa offer their own pool, hot tub, sun deck and indoor/open-air lounge. They are closest to the main pool area and central resort. Cherif says, if you are traveling with young children, Ua, Vivili, Meitei and Seoul are closest to the main pool area and activities, so might be preferred.
Plateau Villas (4 villas)
Plateau Villas are situated on Nawi Mountain, offering views out to sea and
across the neighboring islands. The open-air design plans for (3) one-bedroom villas and (1)
two-bedroom villa unify the boundaries between the interior and exterior areas, providing an
a secluded locale along the ridge. Verstandig says these villas are good if you don’t want to be right on the beach, and notes they are close to the spa.
Seagrass Villas (7 villas)
Seagrass Villas are nestled under the green foliage of Seagrass Bay’s coastline. The villas combine natural materials and comfort, creating an ambiance for nature lovers in each of the (4) one-bedroom
villas, (2) two-bedroom villas and (1) three-bedroom villa. Verstandig says, the Seagrass Villas are good for families with older children who don’t mind being further from the main area of the resort. They are more secluded than the Plantation Villas and the main beach where other guests might be out kayaking. While you have a buggy to get from your villa around the island, she says there is a steep hill you go up and down to get from the Seagrass Villas to the main areas of the resort, so something to consider if you have people with mobility issues in your traveling party.
3. RESTAURANTS AND BARS:
There are five restaurants and bars, however you can dine anytime and anywhere. Laucala Island produces much of what you will consume at its own 240-acre farm. Crops and livestock are cultivated by
traditional methods. Cattle, sheep and pigs graze naturally and poultry from chicken, ducks and quails
are reared in free range pastures and barns.
Candlelight dinners on a private beach, fine dining in the Plantation House
Restaurant, authentic Asian delicacies in Seagrass Restaurant, sundown cocktails in
the Rock Lounge, avant-garde finger food at the Pool Bar and barbecues at the Beach Bar are all part of your wide variety of choices.
Verstandig says while it’s a private island, there is exceptional diversity and options for both dining and drinks. She says it’s nice to be able to rotate and while it’s a small place, depending on who else is visiting, it can be a bit of a party scene.
Plantation House Restaurant
Plantation House Restaurant, located in a mansion replicated in the original colonial style,
provides a fine dining experience that incorporates the experience of a professional,
international team with gourmet dishes and a large wine list featuring older
vintages and “New World” options. Cooking classes and show kitchen are also available.
Seagrass Lounge & Restaurant
Seagrass Lounge & Restaurant, available by land and boat, offers a combination of
top-quality cuisine with a distinct Thai touch. Set against panoramic views,
with a sensuous atmosphere, specialties include Teppanyaki barbecue and authentic Asian
The Beach Bar offers a relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy your favorite drink with white sand and crystal
clear water at your toes. Eat freshly caught and barbecued fish in a beach setting.
The Pool Bar provides a Fijian avant-garde experience where imaginative design in the form of
off-the-wall architecture combines with tropical drinks and light, modern Mediterranean cuisine.
Rock Lounge is comprised of scenic views overlooking Seagrass Bay, spectacular sunsets, a “chill-out” atmosphere for drinks and cocktails
There is an extensive fitness center with state of the art equipment. Free weights include plates up to 45 lb. each and dumbbells up to 110 lb., meaning even weight lifting enthusiasts will feel at home. There are stationary and recumbent bikes, row machines, treadmills, and multiple weight machines, including chest press, incline press, leg press, leg curl, shoulder press, lat pulldown and so forth. You’ll also find a full assortment of medicine balls, yoga and stretching mats.
Laucala Island has the largest lagoon pool in the South Pacific and every villa has its own
private pool. Villa pool sizes varies from
villa to villa between 1,100-1,300 sq. ft.
There are nine Spa Suites. Laucala’s four signature scents, Molikaro, Wainimate, Senikau and Qele are integrated into all “spa journeys.” Wainimate, meaning herbs or herbal medicine, uses local curing
botany. Molikaro, the wide variety of native citrus trees, Senikau, countless tropical blooms, and
Qele, indigenous roots, woods and spices are all used. There are four treatment villas with two wet treatment rooms, Vichy shower and steam rooms. Each villa has a
treatment room, hot stone, relaxation room, outdoor bathtub, private changing room with
shower. There are two wet treatment villas at 1,400 sq. ft., two treatment villas of 1,500 sq. ft., experience showers, beauty salon,
pedicure and manicure rooms, hair salon, spa garden with perfume pavilion, flower pavilion
While this resort was being built, the main aim was to preserve the original character of the
island. The architect of the 18-hole championship golf course found this task a particular
challenge. The result was the David McLay Kidd golf course is set against the mountain meandering through
natural vegetation which has been carefully integrated into the old plantation area. Undulating
fairways, challenging greens with strategic bunkers ensuring a balance for the
experienced player and less accomplished player alike. Either way, you won’t find it crowded. It only sees about 150 rounds a year. USA Today ranked it as one of its “Top 10 Golf Course With Epic Views.”
Laucala is the first resort in the world to operate the state of the art, two person
winged submersible craft: The DeepFlight Super Falcon. A “must-do” during your holiday, it can
take you to a depth of 40 to 60 feet underwater. You’ll see the abundant coral reefs and marine life
in a unique way.
9. FOR CHILDREN:
Laucala caters for families and has a kids club and nanny service. From toddlers to 14 year old kids, the resort offers educational, fun and
unforgettable holiday experiences. Visiting the kids club the
children receive a “welcome package” with the most important things for a holiday - a map
with Laucala’s treasures, a compass and a disposable camera.
Children can paint, learn how to carve wood, dress up like a princess or a super
hero or they can play in the biggest sandpit ever at the beach. There is a bubble maker course at the dive shop and fishing, or they can just splash in the pool. There are also cooking classes, mountain bikes, tennis racquets, pony rides, various water activities such as tubing, knee
boarding, and children’s hobby cat. There are also junior golf sets are available
from the age of five years.
10. RECENT AWARDS:
- GOLD LIST 2017 by Condé Nast Traveler
- Most Luxurious Hideaway in the World by Hideaways Magazine
- GOLD LIST 2016 by Condé Nast Traveler
- Reader’s Choice Award 2016 by Condé Nast Traveler
- Most Luxurious Villa in Australasia - World Luxury Hotel Awards
- Most Luxurious Private Island Resort in Fiji - World Luxury Hotel Awards
- Australasia’s Leading Private Island Resort - World Travel Awards
- Best for Outdoor Adventure & Activities 2016
- Spa Finder Wellness Travel Awards
- Best for the WOW Factor - Spa Finder Wellness Travel Awards
- Best Private Island Resort in the World - Cigar Aficionado
11. GETTING THERE:
Laucala Island‘s private airport operates by day and night. The grooved concrete airstrip is 3,769 ft. long and 75 ft. wide, suitable for all aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 88,000 lbs. Three aviation hangars are available for maintenance on island and one hangar
at Nadi International Airport.
International port of entry is possible upon approval by Air Laucala. Customs, Immigration and
agricultural clearing can then be arranged upon request directly on Laucala.
12. KEY CONTACT:
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is by luxury expert Doug Gollan
My name is Doug Gollan. I am a strong advocate of the private aviation industry. You can read my frequent coverage of private jets and luxury travel at Forbes.com.
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