With 333 Fijian Islands from which to choose, your discerning
clients need sound advice. So when they utter the words “escape,”
“romantic,” “barefoot” and “exclusive,” you can suggest Vatulele
Island Resort. Opened in 1990, this 85-acre, very private resort
offers 17 deluxe beachfront bures (bungalows) and two super-luxury
villas, all surrounded by dense jungle situated on a coral reef and
Vatulele is among Vitu Levu’s outer islands. Guests are usually
flown by seaplane from Nadi and put down in the lagoon in front of
the resort. As soon as guests arrive, the shoes come off, as the
preferred footwear here is bare feet, although one tender-footed
guest did note that “you definitely need reef shoes if you are in a
bure ... as there are coral rocks to cross before entering the
The resort has an impressive report card from the media: The
Wedding Channel, Vogue, Modern Bride, Departures, Fortune, Food
& Wine and Condé Nast Traveler have all bestowed awards, plus
this year’s AAA Tourism Awards name Vatulele “Best Hotel in
According to Debora Roberts, manager North America for World
Resorts of Distinction, the resort’s sales and marketing firm,
Vatulele co-owner Henry Crawford, an Emmy-winning Australian
television producer, studied other top resorts before opening his
“It’s like making a movie,” Roberts said. “You build the set,
then you choose the actors or actresses and you produce your film.
Here at Vatulele, we make a new movie each week, with all new
Guests here will be able to get away from it all, with access to
phone, fax and Internet in the resort office but not in their
rooms. They can spend money at the gift shop, or on massages and
diving activities, but otherwise wallets aren’t required at the
all-inclusive resort. Attire is casual, but some women enjoy
donning a summer dress for dinner.
“Vatulele will not suit travelers who feel more comfortable in a
‘bug-free,’ sterile environment,” says the property’s Web site.
“Rather, it suits the more adventurous traveler who wants ‘to get
the sand between their toes.’”
Vatulele’s bures are a stylish combination of architectures,
with thatched roofs, open shuttered doors and large decks. Guests
enjoy a sitting room, bedroom with king-sized bed and large
bathroom the latter have just been renovated, according to
In addition to the standard bures, two popular villas are also
available. The resort’s “super bure,” called The Point, is a
two-level house with its own chef, a plunge pool and additional
small pool. The more-remote Vale Viqi (Fijian for “pink house”) is
a grand honeymoon bure with its own plunge pool that is accessible
via a golf cart.
No matter where one stays, food and alcoholic beverages are
included. Meals are communal, although private dinners are
available by request in the wine cellar, in guests’ bures, on the
beach or at the grotto. The gourmet food is described as a mix of
Californian and Asian, and fresh seafood dominates the menu.
Some reports have commented on the slow food and beverage
service at dinner, so warn clients they may have to adjust to
“island time” during their meal.
Overall, however, service is exceptional. The ratio of 110
resort staff to 19 couples ensures “most exclusive” goes
hand-in-hand with “all-inclusive.” Furthermore, tipping is not a
custom in Fiji, however, you may donate to the resort workers’
Respectful familiarity begins with arrival, as photos are taken
and your clients’ will be hung in the main bure.
“From that moment on, the staff calls you by first name,” said
one repeat visitor “They pay attention to you as a real person. It
was all just amazing,” said travel consultant Charles Dafoe, of
South Seas Adventures Inc., in Denver.
When it comes to watersports, Vatulele is the only five-star
island resort in Fiji with PADI (Professional Association of Diving
Instructors) “Golden Palm” status , and has 22 diverse dive sites
close by and the resident dive crew welcomes all levels of divers.
Scuba diving and instruction is available at an additional charge,
as is sport-fishing.
Among “included” activities are snorkeling, a boat trip and walk
to see the local favorite “Red Prawns” (scarlet crustaceans sacred
to Fijians) and a local village or Sunday church service visit.
“I went kayaking and sailboating, and I loved the beach barbecue
and meke,” said Dafoe. (A meke is a traditional Fijian
story-telling through song and dance.)
Finally, couples looking to tie the knot might be interested in
a beach wedding under floral arches, with a local minister and
Fijian choir, plus other expected amenities for $3,375. (Gay
couples are also welcomed warmly at Vatulele.)
“Traditionally dressed Fijian warriors accompany the bride on a
barge trip across the lagoon, and children toss flower petals in
the sand as she is carried ashore to take her vows,” says the
resort’s Web site.
Sounds like just another day in paradise.
Rates: Nov. 5-Dec. 18, and Jan. 6-March 31:
$999-$1,296 per couple, per night.
Grand Bure Vale Viqi: $1,665
The Point: $2,115
Quoted per couple for deluxe beach bure. Meals, alcohol and most
activities are included (scuba, massage, fishing and taxes are not
Guests over age 12 are welcome. Minimum stay, four nights.
Honeymoon special: Eight paid plus two
additional free nights drops the nightly rate for a 10-night stay
Seasons: High: April 1 - Oct. 31; Dec. 22 -
Jan. 10, 2007
Low: Nov. 1 - Dec. 21: Jan. 11 - March 31, 2007
Transfers: Per person, roundtrip from Nadi is $450.
Special charter flight is $1,035 (up to four passengers, one