The exclusive island resort of Laucala features glamorous versions of traditional Fijian homes. The island’s privacy and exclusivity make it the ultimate paradisal escape.
I happily made my way from the delightful island Taveuni, known as the magnificent ‘Garden of Fiji,’ towards Laucala, pronounced Lauthala. Hardly believing my luck, I got onto a 2×350 horsepower aluminium speedboat to deliver me across the water to this superlative island resort.
Pronounced Lauthala, she has her own very special mystique not just amongst the truly well-heeled jetsetter clientele, but to the staff, as well as the typical Fijian. Malcolm Forbes bought it originally as a hideaway for his private interests, but on his death, it was sold to the Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
So there I was thinking that being on an island, off an island, off the mainland of Fiji was surely remote when I met the chef who worked at a restaurant 200 yards from my London home! International specialists get the postings for most of the senior duties. Tony the golf pro is from New Zealand, the head chef Anthony from Brisbane, and Andrew the general manager holds the perfect eligibility for the role, born in Fiji but with considerable experience from the Aman hotel group.
The resort is comprised of 25 villas. A staff of 300+ radiate a complete belief in enjoying the abundance of the “fruits of the land.” They all exude their magnificent dignity, reverence and grace. It is only by waking up at dawn from your private villa and jumping in the sea that you see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes as staff discretely comb and weed the night’s flotsam.
The classiness of what Laucala has to offer is everywhere to be seen. The island’s farm and hydroponic gardens make it uniquely 85% self-sufficient, with such rarities as its own soap, papaya jam and green tea ice cream. I was spoiled with an evening and breakfast degustation. The food is truly stunning with the freshest of ingredients and top international cuisine. The menus have no pricing at the five specific hang out spots: the colonial Plantation House, Beach Bar, Pool Bar (where most guests tend to congregate), Rock Bar and Seagrass Bar.
Recent upgrades include the ‘DeepFlight Super Falcon,’ a submersible which goes down 400 feet, for guests who don’t scuba dive. The cobble-stone roads along which everyone travels in their electric golfing buggy are being made specifically from the best stone from Vietnam and a wonderful 100 year old boat has come from Croatia.
The clientele comprises a small Australian crowd though many Americans and Europeans come via LA. Often they come with a specific purpose, be it golf (the 12th hole has a beach with the sea behind the flag), diving, great jungle hikes, horse-riding and every water pursuit imaginable. Some hire the whole island as Arnold Schwarznegger allegedly did recently. Mel Gibson was photographed next door on the island of Qamea getting friendly with the chief.
I left to the Fijian’s “Isa Lei”, their famous departure song:
Isa Isa vulagi lasa dina
Nomu lako au na rarawa kina
Isa, Isa you are my only treasure
Must you leave me, so lonely and forsaken?
(originally printed in Bleu Magazine Issue #61)