I had no idea what to expect from the world’s most exclusive hotel. Laucala Private Island is one of Fiji’s most remote resorts, only accessible by private jet, and is the passion project from Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who bought the island in 2007 as an idyllic holiday retreat to enjoy with his family and friends. Realising its potential he built twenty-five luxury villas and every imaginable amenity to create a paradisiacal retreat for the most dicerning of travellers.
After a short private flight from Nadi domestic airport we touched down on the exotic island. Enthusiastic musicians sung the local welcome song, and moments later we were drinking fresh coconut water and were wearing beautiful frangipane garlands around our necks. It was a short drive to our beachfront villa, Sekoula, named after the flamboyant tree growing in the garden. I instantly felt relaxed in the spectacular villa, sensitively designed to echo the traditional Fijian home. The importance of light and nature is noticeable in every aspect of the rooms; natural local materials and products are featured wherever possible, and curved shapes create a harmonious environment. Every villa has its own private pool, outdoor lounge and bathroom, and many have a stretch of exclusive beach too.
A night's stay at Laucala starts from £3,500. The price tag seems ludicrously expensive, until you consider what's included - everything from a trip in the highly exclusive submarine to a 90-minute spa treatment, a cooking class with executive chef Anthony Healy or unlimited champagne from the in-villa minibar. Take a fishing trip, a rainforest hike or a sunset cruise on one of the Laucala boats or utilise the facilties on the island with a round on the 18-hole golf course, or a guided tour of the extensive farm (complete with Wagyu cows, vanilla pod plantation and avocado orchards).
I loved sampling the varied cuisine on the island. With over 3,000 acres of fertile, verdant land Laucala Island is 85% self-sustaining, and any other delicacies are flown in at the guests’ request. There are five restaurants to choose from, though it is tempting to stay in the villa for a private dining experience. The Plantation House is where Anthony Healy exercises his talent, creating tailored degustation menus for foodies and showcasing the island’s finest produce. Highlights of our meal included immaculate handmade Beef Cheek Ravioli and heavenly Lemon Saffron Panna Cotta with raspberry consume and earl grey tuile. As a Thai food fanatic I was delighted to discover the food of Chef Piak, who previously cooked at Bangkok’s legendary Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Sample his irresistibly creamy curries at the Seagrass restaurant, a picturesque spot that became our favourite lunch option. On our final night a surprise barbeque and cocktail bar was assembled in our villa garden. Premium meat and seafood was grilled to our specification and served with matching wines and bespoke cocktails.
Each villa has its own buggy to zip around the island as desired. I used mine to travel up to the secluded spa several times to indulge in the wonderful treatments. Fully kitted out with top of the range facilities, guests can enjoy specialised packages such as Vichy showers and rainforest water-features. I highly recommend the stimulating coconut body polish, which softened and exfoliated the skin; the perfect pre-beach ritual. The staff keep busy hand making all the products for the spa and the in-villa toiletries, using flowers and herbs from the garden.
A stay at Laucala Island is truly unique. With over 350 members of staff, every wish and want is attended to. After a teary farewell we stepped on board the Laucala jet back to reality. Flying over the impossibly blue waters with this magical island in the distance, it all felt like an unbelievable dream.
Feature guest edited by Milly Kenny-Ryder