A private island, sandbar excursions and a £1.5k-a-night villa: Inside the Fijian resort named the best in Australia and the South Pacific by Condé Nast Traveler
- Sadie Whitelocks stayed at Nanuku resort in Fiji and was upgraded to a one-bed residence
- The luxury two-storey lodge costs FJD$4,250 (£1,488) per night with perks including a pool and cinema room
- At the resort, there are only 37 suites, villas, and private residences nestled among verdant foliage
‘I wish I had some friends here to invite over,’ I told the buggy driver, as I was dropped off outside my cavernous villa.
I’d landed at Nanuku in Fiji – an Auberge Resorts Collection property voted the best resort in Australia and the South Pacific in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards. And in a bid to show me ‘how the other half live’ (and the fact it was very quiet at the hotel following a cyclone) I’d been upgraded to a one-bedroom beachfront pool residence.
The luxury two-storey lodge, designed in typical South Pacific-style with a thatched palm roof and dark wood beams, costs an eye-watering FJD$4,250 (£1,488) per night, so I was keen to investigate what the perks of this price tag would be.
The Nanuku resort in Fiji was voted the best resort in Australia and the South Pacific in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards
A shot of the main pool area at the Nanuku resort with a swim-up bar and ocean views
The one-bedroom beachfront pool residences come with private swimming pools and terraces (pictured). Sadie said the staff spelt out her name on the bottom of the pool with stones as a welcome gesture
The dining and kitchen area of Sadie’s lodge. She said the latter had a distinctly American feel to it
Firstly, the villa was more than four times roomier than the average London flat, with 2,152 square feet to play with.
After buzzing open the front door with a handy electronic rubber wristband instead of using a key, I entered the living area.
There were several sofas in the lounge – plenty of space for all of my non-existent family – and this led through to a large kitchen.
The dining table was made out of a hunk of wood with its natural edge on show, with glossy wooden benches to match.
It felt a little ‘American’ in the kitchen, like something out of a TV show, with a sparkling marble-topped breakfast bar, a coffin-sized refrigerator complete with an ice machine, a coffee maker and microwave.
Finishing my exploration of the downstairs area, I ducked my head into a little washroom before moving upstairs.
The bathroom in Sadie’s villa had a double sink with granite basins and a bathtub with bubble jets
Sadie said she was a fan of the coconut cart where a man macheted the top of fresh coconuts for drinking
It seemed such a shame to be in the place alone, as the bedroom was quite a sight to behold.
Under a beamed apex ceiling, there was a king-size bed on one side with a partition separating the sleeping area from the bathroom.
The dark wood washstand featured double granite sinks, there was a deep bathtub with jets and a spacious shower.
Off to the side, there was a closet with robes, mosquito spray and an ironing set secreted inside.
Another perk of the upstairs bedroom included a balcony looking out over the South Pacific Ocean.
The hotel manager had told me that the star feature of the villa was the outdoor space. She was correct.
My temporary residence came with its own tropical garden and swimming pool. Going the extra mile, the hotel staff had spelt out my name on the bottom of the pool with stones.
‘Bula (hello in Fijian) Sadie,’ the message read.
It was then I discovered another perk of the ridiculously vast villa – a private cinema. Considering I was alone and there was quite a big TV in the bedroom installed with Netflix, I neglected to use this space.
‘A sight to behold’: Sadie’s bedroom, pictured, had a king-size bed under a beamed apex ceiling, with a partition separating the sleeping area from the bathroom
Sadie’s tropical sanctuary featured this beautiful living room area, which was adorned with hand-picked sculptures and gigantic sofas
The most exclusive accommodation is the six-bedroom owner’s residence, pictured, which features three plunge pools with stunning views
Luxury lagoon: The beachfront villas aren’t too shabby, as this image shows
A map showing where the resort is located, on the south side of Fiji’s main island
But I could imagine with a large group of people if there was a bout of tropical rain, this nook to watch films could come in handy.
The tropical garden led down to the beach. It was almost deserted on the sandy shore apart from a member of staff who kindly took a photo of me, on what felt like a solo honeymoon given the romantic dreaminess of the place.
After taking a shower and experimenting with the various coconut-infused wash products in the bathroom I ventured on two wheels – all Nanuku guests get a bike – to the main resort area to have a drink and watch some live music in front of the infinity pool as the sun set.
A waitress came and offered me a fish goujon, but on biting into the breaded morsel, I discovered it was chicken. Luckily, I’m not a vegetarian.
Feeling a bit of a spare wheel in the bar and restaurant space surrounded by tanned-looking couples and families I decided to get an early night.
Biking back to my abode, large bats swooped overhead in the moonlight. I’m not sure if it was the winged creatures that triggered an ominous feeling but that night, I found it tricky to sleep.
Sadie said she felt like she was on a solo honeymoon, ‘given the romantic dreaminess of the place’
The resort won Sadie over with its ‘comfortable style and friendly, unfussy service’
Guests who want to turn the castaway experience up to 11 can book some time on the resort’s private island, pictured
The island has a ‘white sandy beach covered with swaying 100-year-old coconut trees’, the resort says. ‘Explore the sandy trails meandering through shaded rainforest canopy, or linger along the coast, where you’ll take in the rhythmic lapping of the gentle waves that surround you from all sides. Keep your eyes peeled and you might even spot a leatherback turtle returning to hatch and bury its eggs’
Fancy relaxing on this sandbank? The resort can make that happen. You can even tie the knot on it
A view of the smart bar area at Nanuku, with wicker bar stools and traditional wood furnishings
The friendly service at Nanuku was a highlight for Sadie. Above, guests are welcomed when they arrive with a traditional Fijian drum ceremony
Once guests tire of slicing open coconuts and flapping about in turquoise waters, they can flop into a colossal beanbag and catch a flick at the resort’s outdoor cinema
This image shows the overnight camping feature at Nanuku Resort. You can choose to camp on the private island – Nanuku Island – or at the resort itself. It’s reportedly very popular with children. The resort says: ‘Nanuku offers over 50 land/sea activities depending on our guests’ interests. The resort is located in the “Adventure Capital of Fiji”, which is why we can offer so many different adventures/activities/day trips at the resort – or from the resort’
The two-bedroom beachfront residence (pictured) is one of the top accommodation options
The two-bedroom garden villas come with 1,850 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space and rather nice bedrooms
Rates at the Nanuku, Auberge Resorts Collection in Fiji start from FJD $1,233 (£432) a night. For more information on exploring Fiji visit www.fiji.travel.
It felt so isolated and private in the villa that I was scared of being alone. A strong wind meant that the palms kept rustling and at one point, I was convinced someone was creeping around downstairs. Thankfully, it was just my mind playing tricks, but I kept the bedroom door closed just in case.
My one night of luxe swiftly came to an end, but I can see why this humble slice of paradise has been praised in this part of the world.
Some things could be upgraded – the bikes are pretty old, the paint looks tired on some buildings, and Pringles and Doritos in the villa minibar seem somewhat out of place given the price point.
But overall, Nanuku won me over with its comfortable style and friendly, unfussy service. A roving bicycle cart where I could get cooled coconuts macheted for drinking, a sunrise hike to a nearby hill and a kayak down the neighbouring river were other highlights to note.
The feeling of privacy about the place comes from the fact there are only 37 suites, villas, and private residences nestled among mature gardens.
I felt so tucked away from everything on my solo sojourn it was almost eerie. In the comfort of my sprawling residence, I made do with the company of squeaking bats, rustling palms and crashing waves.
Hungry for a moment alone: The resort can offer some delightful romantic dining experiences
Branching out: This treetop is another incredible romantic dining option at Nanuku
This is the resort’s amazing spa. Treatments take place in private suites, ‘with the door left discreetly open to the balmy tropical breeze’
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