Fiji conjures up images of dreamy landscape, dazzling beaches, salubrious climate and blessed with warm and hospitable people. The average Fijian is so friendly that falling in love with this speck of paradise becomes a truly graceful act of conversion, which is far, far removed from the cut throat jet set competitive world.
This island nation comprises of as many as 320 islands, many of which are not yet inhabited. The island of Vitu Levu with its capital city Suva, which pretty interestingly has two names - in the east the city is referred to as Suva while in the west as Nadi. Nadi is actually your point of entry to Fiji as the international airport is located here from where visitors disperse to their chosen islands.
Fiji with a population of 900,000 is an eclectic mix of native Fijians (56%) and Indians (38%). Other races like Europeans, Rotumans, Chinese and Pacific Islanders make for a truly diverse racial mix.
If you are an Indian, you will find the senses and aromas of India unmistakable – a literal home away from home. Fiji’s India connect has two distinct factions – “Calcutta Wallahs” from UP, Bihar and Bengal, while the other – “Madrassis” from down South. Both these factions make up the overall Fiji Indians.
By the way, the average Fijians are of Melanesian origin, with a blend of Polynesian, which is predominant in Eastern Fiji. The spirit of Fijian wanderlust is best epitomised by the fact that families trace their ancestry through 11 generations – it invariably starts with alien sea people who sailed to the Fijian shores from far-away lands and gradually settled down in Fiji in the midst of fellow Melanesian populace who already inhabited the gorgeous Fijian landscape.
This exciting mix of eastern Polynesians and western Melanesians has had a deep physio-cultural imprint on Fiji’s social landscape, which is unabashedly reflected in the island’s social setting.
The big question now is - how do you differentiate Polynesians from the Melanesians? Well, generally the Polynesians are tall and well built, possess fair skin and straight hair, while the Melanesian lot is short and dark skinned. No wonder that there are uncountable instances of visitors who have fallen in love with tall and handsome Fijians with their trademark aquiline features!
The dramatic Fijian landscape has lured many rich & famous people to its shores. For instance, Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who was so mesmerised by the ethereal charms of Laucala island that he decided to buy the island and develop perhaps one of the world’s most outstanding island hideaway.
If history is anything to go by, back in 1972, billionaire business magnate Malcolm Forbes bought this little speck of paradise and transformed Laucala as his private sanctuary. Its present owner, Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, has left no stones unturned to fashion a magnificent island hideaway. And, the result is top end luxury that guarantees total privacy. Out here in serene Laucala, each of the 25 villas are all sensational adaptations of time-honoured Fijian residences.
In the words of Dietrich himself: “Our integral philosophy encompasses the whole island, growing our own live stock and vegetables, caring for our own environment and hand making all our own guest products using the islands natural resources. We have tried to preserve the integrity and history of Laucala in this way”. Truly, Laucala epitomises Eco-Tourism wizardry!
Each carefully crafted villa comes with its own private pool and once inside, the distinctive Fijian decor takes your breath away – be it the sofa sets or the bathtub! Tell me, which island hideaway on Planet Earth can lay claim to cook any plausible meal for you? Laucala does that, literally!!!
Laucala is all of 3,500 acres - coconut plantations and green rolling hills, besides off course dreamlike sandy stretches of beaches. Out here, the switch from indoor to outdoor is one of the most harmonious, unmatched by any other island hideaways, largely due to the resort’s respect, admiration and commitment for vernacular Fijian architecture. No wonder that Condé Nast Traveler has ranked Laucala as a Top 20 Resort in the Australia/Pacific region.
The Telegraph quotes: “This private-island holiday home of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz is almost kitsch in its perfection: four square-miles of private forest and coconut groves, cut through with a golf course, pools and waterfalls. With just 25 villas, and almost 350 staff, the service is as glorious as the island’s setting”.
Laucala may be remote – to the north of the archipelago and surrounded by coral reefs and lush green mangrove forest that is just ideal for an escape from civilization and embracing a paradigm culture & nature shift. Dietrich’s passion for everything big and expansive finds reflection in the resort’s in-house submarine and chances of Shark sighting are a regular phenomenon. This seven-metre semi-submersible submarine reportedly cost $2 million.
In terms of investment in the Tourism sector, Dietrich’s Laucala Island happens to be Fiji’s largest Tourism development project ever.
Here in Laucala, privacy is of utmost importance, much more than even security. The impeccably appointed residences or “Bures” as they are referred to in the local Fijian parlance, have been rather meticulously crafted, yeah! Crafted and not built because the essence of Fijian vernacular architecture that relies heavily on locally available materials like bamboo, cane etc... are meant to offer the discerning guests with a slice of “Natural Fiji” they never knew existed.
For the quintessential foodie, Laucala’s offerings are simply irresistible and they make good use of the island’s organic gardens as fruits and vegetables are all sourced from the resort’s signature kitchen garden. Apart from a bewildering array of nouveau international cuisines on offer, you would do well to order authentic Fijian stuff, coz that’s why you are here – to experience Fiji.
The venue for dining is at a thoroughly renovated old plantation residence and needless to say the service too is every bit colonial. The culinary norm here at Laucala is that all meals are nicely complimented with wines and spirits to match the dining temperament. The in-house wine cellar, well stocked with high quality wines has been a matter of mystery to the wine connoisseurs.
Sensitive to the guests’ spirt of wanderlust and curiosity for things Fijian, Laucala authorities offer truly immersive cultural experiences in their own private culture village where traditional Fijian dance, drama and musical performances are performed. The Kava ceremony in particular is an outright hit with guests as they partake the centuries old traditional drink of Fiji from the community bowl. This centuries old practice of drinking in a community set up is the hallmark of Fijian villages, as people share their emotions after a day’s work... A great stressbuster too!
For those wanting a SPA treatment, the Laucala Wellness SPA has 4 suites, all with shower and change rooms. The mesmerising views from the cliff top is every bit stunning. The best part of the Laucala SPA is that all herbs and flowers are grown in the resort’s in-house gardens.
Dietrich’s love for Golf meant that the 18-hole Championship golf course at Laucala had to be world class and so he roped in Scotsman David McLay-Kidd. PGA professionals support golfers at Laucala and what is more, a chauffeur and nanny too are on call.
Traveller’s Fact File
Villas cost in the range of $4,800 per night + taxes.
Plantation Villas. Located in the midst of coconut plantation and comes with a private beach. If you are a beach bum, Plantation Villas are the right option.
The Plateau Villas. Located on Nawi Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the sea. and The Plateau Villas provide a front row seat to a beautiful sunrise every morning.
The Seagrass Villas. Located on the idyllic Seagrass Bay in the midst of tropical jungle. The villas are impeccably appointed with wooden decks and the pool compliments the oceanic views.
Airlines that fly to Nadi – Fiji Airways, British Airways, Qantas, KLM, Cathy Pacific, Emirates, Korean Air etc... are some of the world’s leading airlines that fly to Fiji. Fiji’s international airport located at Nadi is your gateway city. There are numerous international airlines that fly routinely to Nadi. Once you have landed in Nadi, a King Air B200 transports you to Laucala island. Journey time is 50 minutes.