What is it? Laucala is an island in Fiji owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of Red Bull. It comprises 3,500 verdant acres, including beaches, mountains and 25 Fijian-style villas. The thatched-roofed, tropical-garden-ensconced dwellings range in size and vary in location. You can stay over the water, cresting a hilltop or – literally – on the beach. As ideal for romantic getaways as it is for family holidays, Laucala can be a hideaway or a social event.
Red Bull? Is it about extreme sports? While you’ll find bottles of the energy drink in your complimentary mini bar (next to the champagne, spirits and local beer), the X Game-style references end there. Nevertheless, in one way, the resort is extreme – extremely opulent. People come to Laucala for maximum repose, and the resort brims with “your-wish-is-my-command” possibilities, from diving to yoga, horse riding and surfing. A par 72 golf course meanders across the island. There’s even a two-man submarine, for those who dare. And because Laucala guests are charged an all-inclusive price, you can do it all over and over again. Or you could just lounge in a hammock, cocktail in hand.
Wait, wait! What’s that about a submarine? The first resort in the world to offer this mind-boggling toy, Laucala’s futuristic DeepFlight Super Falcon immerses guests, Jacques Cousteau-style, into the depths. The US$1.7 million sub dives to 60 feet and attracts colourful schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and more during its hour-long excursions.
Laucala sounds like the setting for a reality-television programme. Well it certainly suspends disbelief. A former coconut plantation, the island has bone-coloured beaches, rainforest-flecked mountains, cobalt lagoons, an organic farm and its own livestock, including chickens all the way from Austria and wagyu cattle.
The food must be decent, then, eh? Australian-born executive chef Anthony Healey, whose résumé includes stints on Australia’s Hayman and Lizard islands, lords it over Laucala’s five distinctive restaurants and bars. Graceful Asian and Oceanic dishes (a fusion of South Pacific cuisines) satisfy the formal crowd at the Plantation House but it is the Seagrass Lounge & Restaurant’s teppanyaki barbecue that rules the day. The more casual Rock Lounge, Beach Bar and Pool Bar bring Mediterranean flavours and Western fare to the party. Love to cook? Sign up for a culinary tutorial in Healey’s sleek kitchen (his saffron pasta has become my new dinner-party speciality). And no restaurant or bar closes until the last guest has gone to bed, so you can party all night if you have the energy (maybe that’s where the Red Bull comes in).
Can I get a massage? That’s almost a silly question. The mountainside spa, composed of al-fresco suites, has a local theme and crafts its signature potions and scents from island-grown herbs and botanicals. Try the island volcanic scrub – with mineral-rich soil and a little local folklore thrown into the mix – or a ritual using crystals to cure whatever ails you. In the spa, you can not only get massaged, facialed and body treated, you can also take a course on soap making.
How do we get there? From Nadi, Fiji’s third-largest conurbation, guests are flown by Laucala Air, the island’s own airline. One-bedroom villas begin from US$4,800 per night. For more details, go to laucala.com.