Imagine being utterly pampered on a South Sea island. For that is exactly what happens on Laucala, a private island resort in the Fijian Pacific archipelago.
The island was once owned by the Forbes family for their own recreation. But in 2002 it was purchased by Dietrich Mateschitz of the Red Bull drink company. Since 2009 it has been recognised as the southern hemisphere’s largest private island resort and today appears in the portfolio of The Leading Hotels of the World.
Picture a South Sea island of 3,200 acres with soft, white, sandy beaches, brilliant blue lagoons, mountains and coconut plantations. Amongst the plantations are 25 luxurious, private villas whose guests can enjoy golf – the island is big enough for a Par 72 Championship golf course; beachside horseback riding; scuba diving and snorkelling, should they so wish.
Get another view of the island from the water – Laucala has its own boats – amongst them a cruiser and a Fijian canoe. There are spa facilities, tennis courts, swimming pools, and bikes for guests who want to explore the island for themselves to discover the wild goats and weird volcanic rock formations.
But what also impresses the Foody Traveller is that guests have a choice of five restaurants: fine dining; candle lit dinners on the private beach; finger food; Asian cuisine; a barbeque.
And as the island is 80% self-sustainable the ingredients are as fresh as they possibly can be – growing one minute, on the plate the next. The fertile volcanic soil on Laucala’s farm produces the majority of the vegetables, fruit and herbs. Though as Fiji only has two seasons and the temperature never drops below 18˚it is not possible to grow ‘cooler climate’ crops such as apples, pears, potatoes, carrots so these are imported from New Zealand.
The island produces its own honey – there are some 18 hives in different locations on the island to ensure the best and most delicious honey possible. Some of the honey is used in the spa treatments, whilst some of it makes its way into the kitchen. Any spare wax is used for candle making.
Chef Martin Klein’s cuisine has been influenced by the many renowned chefs he has worked with during his career in Salzburg and he favours dishes which do not necessitate heavy use of fats or are fried or served in rich cream sauces. Where possible he likes to discuss with guests when they arrive the type of food that they prefer.
Fijians traditionally cook their food in an earth oven – a lovo. The food is essentially steamed as pre-heated rocks are covered with leaves and pieces of banana stumps. The food is put on top and covered with more leaves to seal in the steam. If pigs or goats are being cooked, heated stones are also put into the body cavity to make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked through.
Laucala holds regular Fijian cultural evenings and these are when the lovo comes into its own. Included in the evening is the Kava ceremony (traditional drink) and Fijian dancing. The food is served buffet style with a wide choice of starters, main courses and deserts.
To be honest we have not experienced Laucala Island, but we know somebody who has, and it sounds so idyllic that we think it deserves the Foody Traveller commendation of Simply One of the Best.