Managing Directors of Seasonz Travel, Matt Lines & Sam Porter hit the South Pacific to the beautiful Laucala Island Resort...
Sam and I arrived in Nadi, Fiji on May 13 and were surprised to be greeted at the airplane door by two smiling airport staff. “Mr. Matt and Mr. Sam?” they enquired, then we were off, expedited with great ease through customs and onto the awaiting Air Laucala Island aircraft.
After a comfortable 50 minute flight we were in ‘heaven’. This island has a magical charm and the scale of the island and the property is awesome to say the least. The ‘airport’ is an impressive piece of engineering and caters for ‘serious’ aircraft and yes you can park your private plane in one of the three hangers adjacent to the runway. Sadly we left our jet at home on this occasion.
We were met by Risako and David Stepetic, the island management team and Vincent Pauchon, the recently appointed Sales & Marketing Director. The team and their staff were so welcoming and seemed truly excited to finally have us on the island.
So here’s the thing, we’ve sent a number of clients to Laucala over the years but we have never actually had the chance to go, until now. The experience was worth the wait as Sam and I agreed that Laucala was about the coolest place either of us has ever been. Originated and developed by the man who brought us all the energy drink Red Bull, nothing is missed. Every detail seems to be seamlessly stitched together.
So what makes Laucala Island so good?
The island itself is huge and is a hilly, rugged, lush tropical oasis. Yep, paradise!
The main collection of island villas are scattered sparingly along a 4km stretch of heaven on Earth. The one, two or three bedroom Plantation and Seagrass Villas are stunningly appointed, yet in keeping with the local design. The villas are spaced generously apart and privacy is optimized cleverly. All villas have wonderful large pools, a private beach and a collection of outdoor and indoor areas in which to relax. There are also Plateau Villas, the seemingly suspended Peninsula Villa and our personal favorite, the Overwater Villa.
The island’s owner has a pretty special place on the top of the hill, phenomenal in fact. You can stay here but you have to ask him nicely first!
Sam and I love surfing and golf so maybe this is why we didn’t want to leave. The waves were epic and only a short 20 minute boat ride away. We were on it and were guided ably by Gordon and our ‘best friend’ Tim. He became our best friend as he accompanies you in the surf on a jet ski and drags you out of danger when things don’t go so well and puts you right in the right spot when the sets are coming your way. The Laucala ‘touches’ don’t just stop at the end of the wharf you know!
The golf course is immaculate and a truly world class layout. Be very clear that the intention is to run international tournaments here at some point so the standard is very high. Some of the holes need to be seen to be believed. Tony Christie is the resident pro and fellow ‘kiwi’. It is well worth playing at least your first round with Tony as he knows every nook and cranny. He’s pretty impressive to watch and is full of fun stories about life as a pro golfer.
But wait there’s more, a world class spa, every water sport you can think of, cultural activities, the list goes on. You could spend two weeks here and not scratch the surface. Then again you could choose to do nothing and relax on one of the pristine beaches. Of course they will allow you to enjoy your very own beach for the day with nothing but a picnic hamper.
A highlight that took us a little by surprise was a tour of the hydroponic centre and the island’s organic gardens with the island head chef Martin Klein. This is an amazing insight into the impressive ‘back of house’ operation of the island and we recommend it to all clients visiting the island. Just magic!
Leading on from the point above, pretty much everything you eat on the island is produced on the island. This is the reason you are met with fresh seasonal produce at every turn. From the fresh juice ‘shots’ that are distributed upon arrival at any of the restaurants to the in-room banana chips to the hamper packed for surfing, the food was incredible. On night one we were treated to an 8 course degustation which showcased a huge variety of island produce, cooked to perfection.
If you’re like me and you love seafood - well it simply doesn’t get any better. Try catching your own Mahi Mahi and letting the chef work his magic.
The dining options are spectacular and varied. Make sure you take the time to catch the sunset at the west-facing Seagrass Lounge. The omnipresent smiling face awaits your arrival at every venue.
Martin and his team provided the most incredible culinary experience.
The staff are courteous, professional and in true Fijian tradition both friendly and super approachable. Nothing is too much trouble and there is clearly a great sense of pride in this island paradise. We were treated to a cava ceremony (that stuff is great) and a traditional Fijian dance. I’ve seen a few of these performances and the difference was that this one was real. You could tell the smiles on their face and pure enjoyment in their eyes. Great fun.
In summary we felt that Laucala Island sets the benchmark in the South Pacific. ‘Exceeding guest expectations’ seems to be what leading properties aspire to. In Laucala they have just knocked it out of the park. We strongly recommend that, if resources allow, this is a ‘not to be missed’ travel experience.
The best months are May to October but anytime would suit me. You can choose to add Laucala on to a trip to New Zealand or just enjoy this place for a number of days on its own. We can’t get all the info into this short article but we would be delighted to discuss this with you if you require more details. Just contact us!
We look forward to a strong relationship with the fabulous Laucala Island team and thanks once more to Risako, David and Vincent for their impeccable hospitality.
Matt Lines - Director Seasonz Travel
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