Sally Vardy, a 16-year veteran of the travel industry and trusted honeymoon expert, is the founder of Honeymoon Hideaways. Sally has started and sold successful travel agencies in New York and Australia, but her real passion lies in the highly specialized honeymoon market, making lovebirds’ dreams come true. On a recent reconnaissance trip to the South Pacific region, Sally checked out Fiji’s most talked about resort–the exclusive Laucala Island–and shares her experience with wandermelon.
Our entry into paradise began at Fiji’s Nadi International Airport where Laucala’s concierge escorted us through the terminal before whisking us away on the resort’s private plane for a 45-minute flight to the island – an experience in itself as we glided over a picturesque patchwork of cerulean blues and greens.
Feeling very excited to experience Laucala (pronounced Lothala) we landed on the island’s private runway and were warmly greeted by the General Manager, Maja, and her staff who immediately broke into song. After our harmonic welcome, we were driven off in jet-black Land Rover’s through lush rainforest in what felt like a ‘Jurassic Park’ moment. Our eyes were literally popping out of our heads in amazement as we strained our necks to take in all the wonders of this beautiful island paradise that was once upon a time, a coconut plantation. There were a lot of ‘WOW’s!
The WOW factor continued when we arrived at our stunning Plantation Residence, which was like entering our own private Garden of Eden estate. Our residence was comprised of an enormous thatched bungalow made from local Fijian materials and beautifully furnished with a luxurious living area, spacious bedroom, ensuite bathroom including an outdoor bath, yoga deck, private dining pavilion, large pool and day bed – all overlooking the ocean. Our home for the next 4 days!
Each residence comes with a club car parked in its own little garage, so we couldn’t wait to jump in the buggy and explore the neighborhood. It wasn’t long before we discovered the Beach Bar, which specializes in barbecued seafood and meats, and stopped to enjoy one of the most delicious meals we’ve ever had… not to mention the killer view. Our smiling waiter suggested we try the “lollypops” for desert. Lollypops consist of six chocolate-coated homemade balls of different flavored ice cream sitting on a bowl of ice cubes. WOW! We were instantly addicted to these delicious taste sensations, which of course became a daily ritual for us at Laucala. Other charming island rituals include the beating of the traditional Lali drum, which calls sunset into your buré, and the lighting of the Tiki torches and fire bowls at dusk. Mesmerized by our sprawling candlelit residence, we never even made it out of our room on our first night.
After a heavenly night lazing around in our bungalow and a sound sleep, we awoke with the sun streaming in through the open windows and the sweet fragrance of Jasmine floating into the room. It was then I remembered it was my birthday and that in fact I was not dreaming–this was real! Starving, we commandeered the buggy and headed to the colonial style Plantation House for breakfast. To my surprise, the staff all gathered around our table singing “Happy Birthday” in Fijian and presented me with a thoroughly delectable chocolate cake. What a way to start the day!
For some adventure (and to burn a few calories off), we headed down to the Pool Bar & Leisure Center at the heart of the resort where we soon discovered all the toys; Laucala has everything you could possibly want. Manoa, who manages the center, was ready to arrange whatever we desired from Dragon and Hobiecat sailing to traditional Drua canoeing. We were keen to check out the surf, so he arranged for us to use surf boards, stand up paddle boards, snorkeling gear, and a Jet ski. Then off we went in one of their spiffy speed boats on a beautiful ride across the water looking back at the island and passing by the different beaches, restaurants and residences along the way. When we reached the break, it was small, but perfect for stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling, so we spent the next few hours in the water, retreating back to the boat for snacks and refreshments whenever we pleased.
Later that day, we returned to our residence, swam in our pool and relaxed for a while before lunch at the Pool Bar. Post lunch, we explored the island visiting the farm animals on the Farm, the horses at the Equestrian Centre, and learned all about the operations and logistics involved in running the island, which are impressive given the high level it functions at. We ended our first afternoon with a pampering and blissful experience at the hilltop Spa, which offers a range of treatments using their signature scents Molikaro, Wainimate, Senikau and Qele, all made from native citrus trees, tropical blooms, indigenous roots, woods and spices. You can also explore some of the local tropical flowers, fruits, herbs, and spices in the fragrant Spa Garden. For cocktails and dinner, we sampled the gorgeous Seagrass Restaurant, perched on a cliff’s edge and overlooking the ocean – perfect for watching the glowing sunset fade into dusk.
The next day we spent our morning much the same as the day before, but tried a spot of game fishing in the afternoon on the island’s boat, the Riviera. This was a real treat as the luxurious Riviera was all prepared and ready to go with a lovely lunch served on board by the staff. James, the Captain, was delightful. He got us all ready with our rods and it wasn’t long before I was playing tug-of-war with the first large fish I’ve ever caught… a Wahoo! When we returned to shore, the chef was ready and waiting for the catch and turned it into a delicious meal that was eaten later that evening at the Plantation Restaurant. Literally from shore to plate!
Our final day at Laucala involved more water activities and a tour of the island, including a peak inside some of the other 24 residences, such as Seagrass, Plateau and Overwater Residences, and finished up with a visit to the prize Hilltop Residence, which will set you back US$35,000 per night! Suitable for up to six people and situated on the highest point of the resort, the residence captures a 360-degree panoramic views around Laucala Island and is an absolute showstopper – a resort within a resort. For golfers, there is also an 18-hole Championship Golf Course designed by David McLay Kidd, as well as horseback riding, yoga, mountain biking, tennis and a comprehensive Diving Center, including a Marine Biology Center and Fijian Cultural Village. For families, there is a Kid Center with plenty of activities to keep children busy and happy.
We finished off our busy afternoon with another relaxing treatment at the Spa, before racing to catch the sunset at the cantilevered Rock Lounge with views of the horizon. After a few delicious sundowners we moved on to the Teppanyaki Bar for our exclusive Teppanyaki dinner on the edge of a cliff. Definitely another WOW! This was a truly amazing experience that shouldn’t be missed. The view, the fading twilight colors in the sky, your own private chef, impeccable service, and incredible cuisine make this one of the most romantic and beautiful evenings anyone could dream of.
It was a sad feeling to know that we had to leave this paradise the next day and end our fantasy island sojourn. The smiling staff that seem to pop out of nowhere to greet and serve you, the attention to every detail, the incomparable dining experiences, the fun and adventure to be had on the water, the feeling that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and coming home to your own private residence to surprise gourmet treats, all make Laucala Island one of the most memorable holiday or honeymoon experiences to be had – a slice of heaven on earth! And the perfect place to play Adam and Eve.
Getting There: Flights to Nadi International Airport are available on Air Pacific, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Korean Air. Check-in and check-out at Nadi International Airport is taken care of by Laucala staff in the company-owned resort lounge. Guests are transferred to and from Laucala Island by the resort‘s own King Air B 200. (Fees apply.)
Rates: Start at US$3800 p/night for 2 adults for a one-bedroom Seagrass, Plantation or Plateau Residence including meals, beverages, Wi-Fi, amenities, a spa treatment and all activities and sports (except for Deep Sea Fishing).
Contact: For more information about Laucala Island, visit: www.laucala.com. For more information about Honeymoon Hideaways, contact Sally Vardy on +61 403 182 682 or email: email@example.com. Become a fan on Facebook.