Hot Namale

Fiji’s enchanted hideaway calls to clients

By: Karla Aronson

VANUA LEVU, Fiji We mistakenly entered Namale resort from the back gate, but who could tell? The road that wound through the 300-acre property, on the northern island of Vanua Levu in Fiji, enchanted us from every direction.

After sighting a couple strolling along a nearby footpath and passing several beautiful wooden buildings, we arrived at the reception bure (a traditional thatched-roof Fijian bungalow), where the staff greeted us with native songs and music.

While Namale struck us as the kind of place Hollywood celebrities might favor, the resort caters to couples from across the U.S. and often serves as a business retreat for companies.

“When I go back to Fiji, and I most certainly will, I will only stay at Namale,” said one honeymooner. “Everything was perfect from the moment we arrived ’til the moment we left.”

The deluxe luxury resort has just 16 private accommodations, ranging from romantic beachfront bures to two-bedroom, oceanfront villas.

Our stay began with an official tour via chauffeured bula (“welcome” in Fijian) golf cart. Our first stop was the dining facilities. The staff met us in the breathtaking dining room and lounge, built in traditional Fijian style with thatched roof and high ceiling timber posts. Guests can dine indoors, or outside on the terrace while overlooking the stunning Koro Sea.

Delicious three-course meals with a tropical flair are included in the resort rate. In the evenings, guests can mingle over cocktails in the cozy lounge.

Of course, guests can also enjoy their meals in the privacy of their own bure, or at other outdoor locations. This is good to know, because when we saw our accommodations, we wondered if we would ever leave.

Our beautifully designed bure, with its palm wood accents, conjured up notions of a fantasy tree house. Each bure and villa at Namale is completely secluded, and includes a private deck.

Though tempted to remain in our hideaway, numerous outdoor activities also beckoned. The staff can arrange for a wide array of watersports, as well as horseback rides, mountain biking and tennis.

The cliffside Namale Spa features an indoor stream with footbridges that traverse the 10,000-square-foot facility. One giant room, with windows overlooking the ocean, contains six bathing pools and oil-scented baths. Spa treatments can even be enjoyed outdoors on private balconies.

Other resort amenities include swimming pools, a boat marina, a conference center and the Kava Bowl recreational facility, which offers bowling, virtual golf and movies.

“The resort was perfect for me. It offered enough interaction with other guests and plenty of activities if we so desired, but also afforded Camille and myself our own private escape,” said newlywed Mike Brown.

Most visitors to Namale are likely to have the same sentiment.

Prices, which include meals, beverages and activities, range from $640 to $1,800 per couple. The resort can also accommodate children 12 and older.