Escape to Nanuku Auberge Resort, Fiji
Newcomer Nanuku Auberge Resort offers an authentic and intimate holiday experience in entirely lavish surrounds. Faith Thumath finds instant friendship and fun in this truly special destination.
As someone whose favourite hobbies all involve eating, spending a weekend at an all-inclusive luxury resort is right up there with spending a weekend with George Clooney.
While the cuisine at Nanuku Auberge Resort was top notch, it was something else that really stuck with me about my stay — I came away feeling as if I’d spent a weekend as the treasured guest of friends in a small (but luxurious) village.
Nanuku is a relatively recent addition to the Fiji scene, located on a largely deserted beach, two hours’ drive from Nadi Airport or an hour from Suva.
It’s an intimate property of six residences, each of which can be rented as a whole or split, and at its heart is the public area with a restaurant, bar, spa and a pool overlooking the beach.
The resort is an unexpected find in the Pacific Harbour region, Fiji’s adventure capital known for activities such as shark diving and 4WD treks.
When I arrive, Fijian warriors accompany me up a quiet torch-lit pathway to a bar overlooking the ocean, where I’m handed a drink and a gorgeously light lemon-lime soufflé.
The Vunikau Residence
I chat easily with the barman in what sets the tone for the rest of my trip. He tells me about the resort and, in particular, its enormous clifftop penthouse suite, known as the Vunikau Residence, where I’ll be staying.
As I soon discover, it has its own pool table, cinema room, wine cellar, bar, spa, infinity pool, private beach ccess and multiple lounging decks.There’s a full-sized kitchen, but with all meals included, guests rarely cook for themselves (there is an in-room catering option at an added cost).
The soufflé I’ve just enjoyed turns out to be just a taste of what’s to come, and the next morning at the resort restaurant I’m given freshly baked pastries, fantastic eggs benedict and the best barista-made coffee I’ve tasted in Fiji.
Activities at Nanuku Auberge Resort
The morning also brings an introduction to my gorgeous villa mama Ani and villa buddy Tukini who are always close at hand to help with any requests. Tukini offers to keep me company on whatever I’d like to do with my free afternoon.
Nanuku offers cultural and adventure activities including snorkelling, hiking or visiting its private island, but first I want t0 check out the resort’s cultural centre.
Nanuku focuses on offering an authentic cultural experience, and the centre is the place to hear stories from Fiji’s past and learn about the country’s traditions. My guide is an elderly gentleman who once travelled the world promoting Fiji, and he’s a charming character who takes me gathering young coconuts that we open to reveal a plant shoot — a delicacy something like eating a coconut sponge cake.
He demonstrates how age-old building techniques such as woven coconut fibres have been used in building the resort, then presents me with a hat woven from coconut palms.
I wear it to lunch where I’m handed a menu with delights including fish on sugarcane skewers, eggplant parmigiana and floating islands for dessert. Under the watchful eyes of executive chef Walther Whippy, Nanuku’s chefs pour their hearts into every beautifully presented dish. There’s a new menu each day and a focus on using local produce such as fresh seafood. Any good intentions of stopping at two courses go out the window.
It’s time to work off my meal with Tukini, who arrives to take me stand-up paddle boarding on a local river. We glide easily down the silent river, past trailing mangroves and floating coconuts, and Tukini chats about Fijian life and tries to teach me some local language. It’s like spending the afternoon with a friend.
Lomana Spa and Wellness Centre
While it’s not a strenuous paddle, I feel I’ve earned a spa treatment and head off to the resort’s Lomana Spa and Wellness Centre, where the expertly executed full body scrub and massage using Pure Fiji products leaves me relaxed and refreshed.
I while away an hour or so in the spa pool on my deck overlooking the ocean as a storm blows up around me, amazed that I can enjoy complete privacy despite being perched on a cliff.
By this point I’m so relaxed that I order my three courses as room service, and am soon tucking into duck salad in my private cinema room and screening a cheesy rom-com from the enormous digital library.
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The next day, as I’m greeted by name by those I pass on the way to checking out, it strikes me as a very different kind of greeting from the ubiquitous ‘bula’ you’ll hear at properties all over Fiji.
It’s relaxed and personal, and as I leave some of my new friends tell me I’ve brought them luck in gaining access to a waterfall they want to take guests to, and they’re naming the waterfall walk after me.
I’d like to think it wasn’t a shameless attempt at flattery but even if it was, it worked — and at the very least, going back to check is an excuse to return for another magical holiday.
Nanuku Auberge Resort nanuku.aubergeresorts.com
Getting there Fiji Airways offers multiple weekly flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to Nadi, and additional twice-weekly flights between Sydney
and Suva. www.fijiairways.com
More information www.fiji.travel