At this moment in time, more than ever, we need to dream. This is the perfect opportunity to let your imagination run wild and start making big [albeit abstract, for now] plans for the future. And if you love hotels and you love to travel, then visiting Laucala Island needs to be on your bucket list.
Last winter I had the great fortune of experiencing what in my opinion might truly be the most amazing hotel in the world: Laucala Island. We were hosted, along with three other SmartFlyer/Ever After Honeymoons agents (slash dear friends), as part of a reward trip to Fiji for the top-producing travel advisors on our team. And it. Was. GLORIOUS.
I don’t even know where to begin to describe how phenomenal Laucala is (there’s a reason Oprah and George & Amal Clooney count it as their favorite too). They have thought of everything and anticipate your every wish and whim. Because it’s so exclusive and expansive, it would be equally perfect for a honeymoon, family vacation, multi-generational retreat, or milestone anniversary.
Honestly, I think I peaked by having stayed here already, but at least I can relive it by sharing here…
Laucala (pronounced Lau-tha-la) is its own private island located in the middle of Fiji’s Koro Sea. Fiji Airways operates a nonstop flight from Los Angeles that will get you to the main island of Nadi in just under 11 hours. Once you arrive, you’ll receive VVIP Meet & Greet services and be escorted from the plane directly to the Laucala Private Lounge, where you can get check-in out of the way. From there, you’ll hop on Air Laucala for a 50-minute private jet to the island.
(And if commercial isn’t your thing, Laucala operates a 24-hour Category 4 Certified Private Airport and can facilitate international arrivals, including customs and immigration, right on the island.)
After deplaning on Laucala, you’ll be greeted by your own personal “Bula” (welcome) with a traditional Fijian song by the staff, before being escorted via Land Rover to your villa.
Once you’re dropped off at your new home, electric golf-carts will become your transportation of choice (though of course if you need to get somewhere across the island, such as a deserted sand dune for a private picnic, you’ll be chauffeured in a luxury SUV no problem).
With only 25 private villas (aka bures) set on 3,500 acres, Laucala is the ultimate exclusive private island retreat. Owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, billionaire founder of Red Bull, this hedonistic retreat is perfectly private and the epitome of luxury. Yet it still manages to maintain a feeling of warmth and intimacy — when you arrive you are family (and you’ll never want to leave).
It’s also hard to talk about the aesthetics of the resort without mentioning the landscape. Jurassic Park is called to mind quite often when you’re roaming the island. Rows of palm trees line the grounds near the plantation area, and the lush natural rainforest throughout the rest of the island is almost otherworldly. The coastline features both white sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. It’s almost as if someone put together the very best elements of every other tropical island and compiled them together to make Laucala.
The interiors are plantation-chic meets traditional Fijian, with a strong focus on natural elements and the surrounding landscape. The common areas vibes vary from luxe treehouse to colonial, but all share the common thread of barefoot elegance. The one, two, and three bedroom villas are traditional in design yet have thoughtful modern touches throughout. Each villa has its own private infinity pool and yoga pavilion, indoor and outdoor dining spaces (and as we already mentioned, fully stocked bar), and lush gardens. My personal favorite element were the soaking tubs – one indoor, and one outdoor for each bedroom. I love a good hotel bath, and these are at the very top of my list. Some of the specialty villas include the Overwater Villa (one of the few in all of Fiji), and the Hilltop Villa (a “resort within a resort” – the crown jewel of Laucala that includes its own two guest villas that form one large private estate overlooking the island, and even it’s own mini version of the iconic Laucala pool! – perfect for a family celebration).
One could make an argument that you never have to leave your room, if there wasn’t so much to see and do on the rest of the island…
One of the most recognizable features has to be the 25-meter glass swimming pool. The landscape architect was before his time, because this seemingly made-for-Instagram photo opp was actually designed before the age of influencers. (Make no mistake, we spent the better part of our afternoon running back and forth to get the shot here.)
Laucala gives a new meaning to “all-inclusive” – literally the sky is the limit here. Think of anything you could want, and the fabulous staff will make it happen for you. Pretty much everything is included in the nightly rate, so while the $ amount does have a bit of sticker shock (rates start at $4800 per night for a One-Bedroom Villa for two), the value is truly there. That means: all food and house beverages (including a fully stocked bar in your villa), laundry & dry-cleaning, babysitting services (yes, you read that right), personal buggy/golf-cart, WiFi, most activities (including the Kids Club and golf) and inner-reef watersports. Even your introduction to the spa is included, with each guest receiving one 60-minute massage per stay (BONUS: when #bookedbyarbiter, each guest actually gets two more additional massages – that’s THREE per person per stay!). Pretty much the only extras are outer-reef dives and surf trips, deep sea fishing or boat charters, additional spa journeys/treatments, and shopping at the boutique.
EAT & DRINK
The food at Laucala, like everything else, is exceptional. The island has a focus on sustainability, and they grow/farm/raise as much of the food as possible on their 240-acre farm, so virtually everything is farm-to-table. Meals can be prepared pretty much anywhere you’d like (a private beach or hike picnic, in your own villa, on the beach), or you can explore any of the resort’s five dining establishments.
Plantation House is an old colonial style mansion offering fine dining in an elegant but relaxed setting. I personally love the juxtaposition of a traditional vibe on an island and really enjoyed the lavish breakfast spread here!
Seagrass Lounge & Restaurant is located on a cliff overlooking the sea, and offers Pan-Asian cuisine. The fresher than fresh sushi is unreal. And I highly recommend arranging a Teppenyaki dinner – the chef is so fun! (Oh, and the best part about being on a private island is that you can show up to dinner in your robes!)
The Pool Bar (casual barbecue and seafood) and Beach Bar (Mediterranean-style) each offer relaxed options so that you don’t need to leave your sunbathing (or Instagramming at the pool) perch during the day.
Rock Lounge is the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with creative cocktails and light bites, and the most amazing views. Also great to stop by for post-dinner drinks on your golf-cart drive home from Seagrass!
There are also special dining events, such as a night at the Cultural Village, which showcases the local traditions and cuisines, and includes a kava ceremony in the bure kalou (aka spirit house), as well as a dance performance, followed by a traditional Fijian feast.
There is so much to do both on land and sea here. Most activities and watersports, including inner-reef diving and snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, jet-skis, under-water scooters, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, horseback riding, tennis, biking, fitness center, yoga, cooking classes, spa classes, kids club, and golf.
The 18-hole championship golf course, designed by David McLay Kidd (known for designing the award-winning Bandon Dunes course in Oregon that I only know about via my husband’s obsession) has less than 150 tee-offs per year, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have it all to yourself. The course is set on the mountain with the most spectacular views and lush scenery. Lessons are available by PGA pros for every level (including kiddos). Green fees, buggy, and club rentals are all included in your daily rate.
The spa at Laucala is truly my happiest place on earth. While one 60-minute massage per person is included for all guests, booking through Arbiter gives you TWO additional treatments per person. I would pay about a million dollars to go back for one of Phoebe’s (my angel of a masseuse) massages right now – and I had prenatal massages at the time, so I can’t even imagine how good a real one would be.
Families are welcome, and the set-up of the villas is perfect for them (and the rate includes nanny services on request – score!). The Kids Club is available for toddlers to early teens and offers fun, unique, and educational experiences.
Although Laucala is beyond inclusive, clients of Arbiter get even more perks…
- One spa journey (60 minutes) per person, per stay
- One additional complimentary 60 minute massage per person per stay
- Champagne, cake and fruit basket