I was enjoying the happy hour at FTU Advanced in San Diego last March when one of my readers, Bob, started telling an amazing story about his trip to the Laucala Island Resort, an exclusive hotel in Fiji. It’s not part of the major hotel chains and requires an expensive private charter by plane or boat. Yet he still found a way to use some travel hacking techniques to lower the cost. I’m always interested by trips outside the ordinary, so I asked Bob to share his story with the rest of you:
In late January my partner and I were fortunate to create a side trip to Laucala Island Resort in Fiji as part of our trip to Australia and Hong Kong. Although I would love to report that this trip was completed solely with airline miles and points, this was one of those times when the best trip was a combination of miles/points and cash but absolutely worth it! This 3,000 acre paradise was formerly owned by Malcolm Forbes; upon his death his estate sold the island to Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
Getting to Laucala Island Resort
Since we had already booked our trip to Australia, we added our trip to Laucala Island Resort from Sydney by flying Fiji Airways, flying them again on our return trip to Melbourne. In order to get to Laucala Island Resort, you either need to arrive by your private plane/yacht or you need to take the island’s private jet from Fiji’s capital city, Suva.
This short 45-minute flight will cost $600 per person each way. But just one of the amazing features of staying at Laucala is that when you arrive in Suva, you are greeted by a resort employee who escorts you through the customs process (very quickly I might add), and you also have use of the resort’s private hanger, which has a shower for you to “freshen up” from your flight.
The resort offers an array of accommodations depending on budget, size of your party, and whether you desire to stay over-the-water, near the plantation, or up on the bluff. There even is an 11,000 square foot private villa on its own island you can rent if it’s in your budget! There are one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom villas available. During our trip we stayed in a one bedroom villa on the beach.
My best guess is that our villa was approximately 1,500-2,000 square feet with two separate living quarters comprised of the lounge with a stocked fridge, couch, two-person dining table, lounge chairs, and an incredible stereo system. The second living quarter was comprised of a king bed, custom made couch and lounge chairs, a separate vanity, desk and closet leading to the bathroom.
The bathroom was HUGE and was comprised of a huge vanity with double sinks, a separate toilet room, a hand carved stone bathtub and separate huge shower. Just off of the bathroom is an outdoor shower area with another hand carved stone bathtub and bed for massages. All of the furniture is hand carved and custom made from materials on the island.
Each villa has it’s own “splash” pool which again was massive. The property for the villa was completely private with an outer gate that separates staff from the guests. Should you not want to leave your villa during your stay it is completely possible to do so without seeing another guest while in your villa, pool or on the beach.
A collection of five restaurants and bars offers everything from beachside BBQ to fine dining, with many of the buildings inspired by nature.
Plantation House occupies an airy replica colonial mansion, the fine dining and bar complemented by a thoughtfully selected premium wine list. Alfresco meals are available at Seagrass Lounge and Restaurant, which specializes in Asian and Fijian favorites. The Beach Bar is all about casual barbecues beside the water. Shared plates of Mediterranean-style fare are served at the Pool Bar, beside Laucala’s 2,000 square meter lagoon-style swimming pool. The Rock Lounge features open-air dining above Seagrass Bay, with finger food and cocktails the order of the day. Another great feature is the teppanyaki dining available in the Seagrass Lounge, which is set on a platform over looking the ocean below.
Laucala also offers dining by design, which means customized menus in private dining locations — amid the jungle, along a jetty, in your villa. We took advantage of the customized dining by having a BBQ one evening on the beach in front of our villa. There is also in-room dining upon request which we took advantage of several mornings.
Although there are menus available at most of the restaurants, the award-winning chef is more than happy to customize your meal upon request. Be sure to try breakfast at the Plantation House, as it’s amazing.
Land and Sea Activities
Laucala’s diversions range from relaxing to adventurous. A wide variety of water-sports introduce guests to Fiji’s azure oceans, while rainforest walking tours, golf, farm visits, and horseback riding are exhilarating ways to explore the island.
The island’s Water Sports Center is home to a fleet of 14 boats, including the Riviera Open Flybridge for game fishing as well as Dragon sailboats and traditional Fijian outriggers, ideal for sunset cruises or archipelago discovery. From here, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, and jet-skis are also available.
Arguably the best way to explore Fiji’s marine offerings is by taking the plunge, and Laucala offers snorkeling equipment and PADI certified Dive Centre to get guests up close and personal with hawksbill turtles and angelfish. One of the most thrilling and unique features of the Water Sports Center is the two-person submarine, which is for the exclusive use of the resorts guests. Be sure to bring your GoPro for this activity, as it’s truly amazing. If are you claustrophobic this activity probably isn’t for you.
When it comes to experiencing Laucala’s beaches, plantations, and hinterland, guests have access to eight immaculately groomed Fijian horses. Guided walking tours also lead guests to far-flung corners of the island, with arranged visits to a Cultural Village detailing Fijian arts, crafts and traditions, as well as Laucala’s organic farms and gardens.
An island highlight is the 18-hole championship golf course, thoughtfully designed by David McLay Kidd with spectacular greens and fairways overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If golf isn’t your thing, there are several tennis courts to utilize. The staff even arranged to have a tennis pro for the duration of our stay.
Closer to the resort, the Kids Club caters to children of all ages with fun, educational, and informative activities under the watchful supervision of trained staff.
Although there was a significant cost involved for this trip, when you factor in that it is all-inclusive, it was amazing on every level. The customer service was outstanding with the staff doing everything in their power to make our trip a memorable one.
You can be as active as you’d like and schedule endless activities or you can simply kick back and relax, especially since each guest receives a complimentary 90-minute spa treatment of their choice. Although it is not possible to create this trip solely on airline miles and points, it is possible to significantly reduce the costs of visiting Laucala Island by using airlines miles for your travel to Nadi International Airport and becoming a member of the Leading Hotels of the World program.