Enjoying a redefined level of luxury, Cathy Wagstaff relishes three days of sumptuous massages, languid swims and unsurpassed service on Fiji’s most luxurious… and most private… of islands.
I really don’t want to leave. Laucala’s private jet is waiting patiently to whisk me back to the real world, but here on what is unquestionably one of the most beautiful, most luxurious private islands in the world, I just want to linger and succumb to its charms a little longer.
Laucala Island has been the most seductive experience, where absolute luxury merges with nature at its most idyllic. The resort spans the island’s northern coast, with villas stretching along private beaches or hidden among the hills. Buggies transport guests from the waterside spa to horse-riding lessons in the southern area of the island, passing a magnificent 18-hole championship golf course on the way.
It is a lush 1400-hectare island where nature reigns and architecture gracefully cedes superiority to the environment’s wild grandeur. Coconut groves grow alongside exotic orchids; jungle creeps to the edge of white sand beaches and hidden coves; and all is ringed by the stunning blue halo of its protective reef.
Once owned, and much loved, by US billionaire Malcolm Forbes, Laucala is now a private escape for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Elle Macpherson, as well as attracting the world’s leading golfers, including Aussie champion Adam Scott. Present owner, Red Bull baron Dietrich Mateschitz, has indulged his every dream in bringing the resort to life, with money seemingly no object.
Care and passion ooze into every detail. Each of the 25 villas (including the owner’s extraordinary Hilltop Residence) exists in splendid isolation amid wild and verdant surrounds. The morning greets me with songs from the forest, weaving through the free-flowing complex that is my beachfront Plantation Residence. Constructed with natural materials, including thatch roofs, bala bala fern stems and timber from the island, the villas are grand in every sense.
Room to move
Space is the true luxury on Laucala. Airy rooms supported by beams bearing traditional intricate designs lead out to a maze of pavilions, containing my two huge outdoor granite baths and the vast open-air lounge, meandering down to the private infinity pool ringed by Tikki torches in the evening (which is conveniently just metres from my private beach). I also find the villa to be deceptively high-tech, for among the driftwood and pebbles hide modern Bose sound systems and all the fancy conveniences you could hope for. My personal Tao (meaning ‘my friend’ in Fijian) is on speed-dial, and he ensures all three bar fridges are fully stocked with the finest drops the island has to offer, as well as liberal amounts of Red Bull.
or those who demand the very best (and who are fortunate enough to have their application accepted), Mateschitz’s Hilltop Residence is a resort within the resort. It presides over the island’s highest point on a volcanic mountain, commanding views across the Fijian archipelago from the sophisticated main residence (complete with multi-level swimming pool) and its two guest residences. A private cook, chauffeur and nanny all add to the exclusive island experience. And it will only set you back $42,000 a night.
The 97-hectare farm grows organic crops, as well as containing quail pens, subterranean coconut crab enclosures, a piggery, a duck pond and a cattle farm complete with abattoir. Beehives provide honey and chocolates are handmade in-house from the resort’s own cocoa beans. Three organic greenhouses produce vegetables the likes of which you’ll never find in your local supermarkets, and gardens nurture the flowers you find daily in your bure. More than a quarter of the island is covered by coconut groves, used for food, beauty products, building materials and cocktails under the soaring roof of the Pool Bar. On Laucala, paddock-to-plate dining is taken to a whole new level and eighty per cent of everything consumed in the resort, from fruit and flowers to candles and moisturisers, is produced on the island.
The spa is a remarkable showcase. Pools of lotus flowers surround the hilltop oasis, cooled by fresh ocean breezes. Guests can experience wet treatments with two Vichy showers available. I couldn’t resist a Fijian Bombo massage using Molikara Coconut Oil, one of the resort’s four signature scents. I chose well; the massage is sublime. And yet more bliss is to come, for the next day I’m spirited away on a speedboat to Tadra beach where champagne and a long, rejuvenating Swedish massage await.
On an island as naturally extraordinary as Laucala, the great outdoors is as much a temptation as the spa. Riding on horseback through the coconut plantations is true peace. I also opt for
a round of golf. The 18-hole championship course cuts through the green hills, carving out a place on the island that is mine alone. Even when the resort is at its maximum capacity of 89 guests, you will rarely meet another soul.
Water sports have their own appeal, and an entourage of instructors are on hand to take me jet skiing, wakeboarding and speedboat riding. Diving with glimmering tropical fish is available at 25 locations, or you can do it yourself right off the beach.
My last evening is spent aboard the resort’s luxury yach, from where the resort appears in all its glorious green wonder before disappearing into a black silhouette against the gold-stained sky.
On my final day, I partake in an early morning meditation watching the sun rise over the Pacific.