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Laucala Island: What it's like to stay at Fiji's most expensive, exclusive resort

Travel News from Stuff - 05-12-2022 stuff.co.nz

As we land in , there are a lot of unhappy people on our plane. Thanks to a severely delayed departure, we are landing late afternoon, which means that everyone who was planning to catch a seaplane to an island resort will now have to overnight in Nadi.

Those of us travelling to COMO Laucala Island, however, are exempt from the general dismay. Unlike other resorts, Laucala Island has a runway, allowing its private planes to land at night.

One 50-minute flight is all that stands between us and the start of our getaway.

Laucala Island is famous for doing things differently. Created more than a decade ago by Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz – and having recently joined the wellness-focused COMO portfolio – Laucala Island is known as the resort where there are no limits.

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Guests including Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney are happy to pay the steep rates – starting start at US$5600 (NZ$9178) a night for a one-bedroom villa – for a holiday where every luxury is available.

Among the most essential luxuries is space, and Laucala has that in spades.

There are just 25 residences on this 12 square kilometre island, and my one-bedroom villa sits on a plot bigger than the house I grew up in. It has two separate pavilions for living and sleeping, a freeform infinity pool, indoor and outdoor bathtubs and showers, an al fresco dining pavilion and yoga deck overlooking the beach, as well as a fully-stocked (complimentary) mini-bar with a generous selection of wines and spirits.

You could easily spend your entire stay holed up in your villa, and I suspect many visitors do. Even when I hop in my electric buggy to go exploring – if you prefer, your tau, or butler, will drive you – I rarely bump into another guest.

The all-inclusive rate covers water sports such as snorkelling and diving, sailing, surfing and jetskiing. There is horse-riding, and yoga, a tennis court with a pro happy to hit with you, and a jungle-shrouded 18-hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd that enchants me despite my lack of golf skills.

Just about the only thing not included in the rate is spa treatments, although a supremely relaxing 60-minute massage is provided to every guest – a superb way to kick off your stay.

Equally stellar is the food. Most ingredients are grown on the island or sourced from local suppliers. (Our tour of the 97-hectare farm reveals not only fruit trees and veggie beds but also a vanilla plantation, chicken, sheep and cattle.) There are breakfasts at the colonial-styled Plantation (juice menus include a superb watermelon, ginger, cucumber and mint combo), lunches by the beach and dinner at the clifftop Seagrass where we enjoy teppanyaki.

At Laucala Island, you can fill every moment, or simply let the moments stretch out, sitting on a deserted beach watching turtles swim past. But if I had to identify just one thing that lifts this resort above the competition, it would be the fact that, no matter what the request, the answer is always yes.

Whether it's trying to fit in a quick snorkelling session before a sunset sail or ordering another serve of Laucala's more-ish take on Magnum ice creams, this staff makes things happen and makes it look effortless, too.

Fiji Airways flies nonstop to Nadi daily from Auckland and several times per week from Christchurch. The 50-minute transfer from Nadi to Laucala Island on the island's private plane is US$750 (NZ$1229) one way.

Rates start from US$5600 (NZ$9178) a night for a one-bedroom villa and include full board, including wines and spirits, one 60-minute massage, private sessions on the golf course and activities including yoga, horse riding, and watersports including sailing and diving on the inner reef.

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