Hidden away among uninhabited isles in Fiji’s north, Laucala Island is one of the most indulgent and exclusive tropical enclaves on the planet. Once a private retreat for the Forbes family and now owned by Austrian billionaire and Red Bull guru Dietrich Mateschitz, this remote paradise offers privacy and luxury in equal measures.
Reservation by application
Unlike many resorts in Fiji, Laucala is rather discerning as to who visits. In fact guests looking to arrive during peak season or to pamper themselves in the exclusive Hilltop Estate, an owners retreat that goes for a cool US$44,000 per night, will need to submit an application first.
A protected Eden
Just as it did for Malcolm Forbes (who requested the island be his final resting place), Laucala has a special place in Mateschitz’s heart and the billionaire has ensured its development hasn’t negatively impacted the rest of the island. In fact, despite all its first class amenities, the resort only uses 10 percent of the island, with the rest remaining blissfully untouched.
Your own little island
Privacy is core to the Laucala experience; little wonder when you see the clientele, which includes Oprah and Elle MacPherson. Guests can fly in with their own private jet or on the island’s twin-engine plane, and even skip customs procedures at Nadi. The island has restrictions on who can fly over it or sail around it, and even Google Earth’s satellite images are blissfully beer-goggled over this luxurious locale.
Villas to die for
Once you’ve arrived, you might find it hard to pry yourself from your little slice of paradise. Laucala boasts just 25 spacious, beautifully-appointed Stephen Albert-designed hideaways, ranging from 11 Plantation villas set against a white powder sand beach, through to four Plateau villas perched atop Mount Nawi, and a solo Overwater Villa. All come with 24 hour butler service, in-villa wine libraries, decadent outdoor bathrooms, and personal golf buggies.
At Laucala Scottish designer David McLay Kidd was tasked with building a challenging course that would appeal to players of all skill levels, while cutting down as few trees as possible. The result is one of the best – and most rarely used – par 72 courses in the Pacific.
Where everyone knows your name
With such a staggering guest-to-staff ratio (approximately 7:1), expect service levels rarely encountered anywhere else. Favourite tipples are pre-made every time you approach a bar, just in case you have a hankering; post-rainforest hike shoes are spirited away and returned glowing; baths are run when you’re finishing up on the golf course, and a ‘yes to everything’ mantra ensures you can be as active or inert as you like.
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Going it alone
Laucala strives for self-sufficiency; a 240-acre farm breeds free-range pigs, cattle, chickens and quails, while a vast herb garden and hydroponic greenhouses keep the salad bowls filled. The resort even catches its own fish and makes its own sparkling water, spa products and bath bombs.
This is Fiji so you’re going to want to hit those turquoise lagoons. Fortunately a billionaire’s island comes with the right kinds of toys, included traditional outriggers, a Dragon sailboat, a Riviera Open Flybridge launch, a fleet of powerful jet skis, and a million dollar, two-seater Deep Flight Super Falcon submarine.
You are what you eat
Laucala takes its dining diversity seriously (it helps that Mateschitz owns Salzburg’s acclaimed Ikarus restaurant). There’s five distinctive restaurants, including fine dining served in the colonial-esque Plantation House; al fresco Asian and Fijian favourites at Seagrass; beachfront barbeques at the Beach Bar; Mediterranean-inspired tapas at the Pool Bar; and degustation menus at the vertiginous Rock Lounge.
A holistic haven
Complete with four sumptuous spa suites, each with an outdoor tub for post-treatment contemplation, the spa at Laucala Island rivals that of some big city hotels. A curated collection of indulgent treatments use ingredients from the resort’s own Spa Garden and rituals from Fiji’s wellness heritage.