AFTER TAKING A FOUR HOUR FLIGHT FROM AUSTRALIA AND A QUICK HELICOPTER HOP FROM NADI, LUXURY TRAVELLERS WILL FIND THE MOST TRANQUIL, ROMANTIC AND INDULGENT RESORT FIJI HAS TO OFFER – LIKULIKU.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN FIJI
The rain is pattering down on the roof of our bure, but even that can’t dampen our spirits – because even when the weather isn’t perfect, Likuliku Lagoon Resort still is. In fact, out of the 150 hotels I have stayed at around the world over the last 18 months this may just be the best.
Why is it the best? It’s quite simple – it is seemingly impossible to fault. That’s not just my opinion, but having read through the guest comment books over the last three months one morning over breakfast, the notes left also pointed to just that.
Likuliku’s location in a lagoon on Malolo Island – a one hour boat journey or 15 minute helicopter ride from Denarau Island – is the first impressive aspect of the resort. Facing west, each night the hotel looks out to one of Fiji’s best qualities – amazing sunsets. It is also the setting for ten glass-bottom-floor overwater bures, the only offering of its kind in the Fiji Islands.
Along the beachfront are another 35 garden bures, each with a daybed, private outdoor shower, deck chairs, direct beach access and some with a plunge pool. While on pricing these are the ‘next best thing’, I think they are the real highlight of the resort. It doesn’t get much better than watching the sunset in the plunge pool with your life partner by your side and a glass of Veuve Cliquot in hand.
“We say Likuliku is a quintessential Fijian experience,” says Ahura Resorts Group General Manager and expat Australian Steve Anstey. “It’s the total experience… architecture, location, staff, food and activities. It’s not one single entity, but an alchemy of all these things that provide the Likuliku experience,” he says.
The food at Likuliku, which forms part of the ‘all inclusive’ package deals, is better than you will find in many of Sydney’s leading high-end restaurants. That is in part thanks to the work of Executive Chef Brett Kryskow, whose resume is highlighted by a stint at top Sydney eatery Balmoral Bathers.
Then there is the produce itself, which Anstey says is sourced from the finest producers in the Fiji Islands. “Fresh, clean and creative, we showcase the finest local produce with an emphasis on local seafood, lush tropical fruits, premium products and the diversity of cultures that have shaped the South Pacific,” he says.
The menu changes daily for lunch and dinner, while breakfast is the same each day – but that’s not a bad thing. On the breakfast menu at Likuliku is a succulent mud crab omelette, which is impossible to past, even for four days straight.
Anstey says the quality of the meals comes down to the produce the kitchen sources. “Over 80% of all produce in the Likuliku kitchen is sourced in Fiji, supported with our own vegetable and herb garden onsite,” he says. “Some of our local suppliers offer free-range eggs, organic fruit and vegetables, and pork from Vuda Piggery, near Lautoka.
“Spices of Fiji, an organic plantation and oasis of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper at Wainadoi, halfway between Suva and Pacific Harbour, supplies some of the finest spices found on any world menu.
“The hot tropical climate lends itself to simplicity, whilst our market positioning requires a unique creative style and contemporary flair,” he says.
With bure rates starting at FJD$1375 per night for two including all meals, the quality of meals has to be high-end and quite simply, Likuliku have excelled in this area.
The property also has a heavenly day-spa – Tatadra – with treatment rooms that overlook the beach and waves that crash underneath. Massages, body wraps, manicures and masks are all specialities, particularly the Couples Indulgence package that includes the Paradise Sugar Body Glow.
The restaurant and day spa are just two of the many reasons why Likuliku Lagoon Resort continues to perform well. Anstey says despite the global economic downturn, the outlook is positive for the property.
“We have seen certain geographic regions shift, both positively and negatively,” he says. “But despite the depressed market, we are going to do better than expected and better than most operating at our pricing levels.
“Whilst we are down on last year, the resort is still showing strong forward bookings and achieving satisfactory occupancies, especially when compared to other competitor resorts,” Anstey says.
Guests are also coming from across the globe – with Australia, New Zealand and the United States being the strongest markets. The recent weakening of the Fijian dollar by the government is paying dividends, with the property – and the country as a whole – now an excellent value-for-money destination.
The next step to driving that is more flights and both Air Pacific and Pacific Blue have addition services in the pipeline. Air Pacific is pushing ahead with planned Hong Kong flights later in the year, while Pacific Blue has applied for unlimited capacity between Australia and Fiji – a move that could pave the way for daily flights from Adelaide and Brisbane, along with the potential to launch direct Gold Coast-Nadi flights, a market Air Pacific gave up on recently after a short launch period.
“Increased air access is vital,” Anstey says. “It’s important to have frequency, choice and flexibility when it comes to accessing a destination.
“A healthily competitive airline market is great for the customer and opens up new markets through competitive pricing,” he says.
Increased flights will not only assist properties such as Likuliku with the leisure market, but also the MICE market – a segment that continues to grow for Anstey.
“We have had 21 weddings to date this year and have another eleven booked in for the remainder of the year,” he says. “This is nine more than this time last year and 22 more over 2007 this time.
“We are hosting one more major corporate incentive group in November this year and have just wrapped up a major automotive company exclusive resort-use incentive in June,” he says.
What a perfect wedding location Likuliku is. It’s also the perfect honeymoon destination and ideal for a five-day getaway. Matter of fact, you don’t need a specific reason to visit Likuliku… just a passport, an air ticket, two bottles of champagne and your life partner. And with no kids allowed, this place is heaven and you’ll find it impossible to leave – we did.