Perfection Island

Exquisite attention to detail in an amazing setting -- The Wakaya Club, Fiji.

By: Allen Salkin

SUVA, Fiji Details. Consider even the adornment on the toilet in our room at The Wakaya Club. There on top of the tank was a fully blooming live orchid. Everywhere we turned at this Fijian paradise, there was a wonderful detail.

The Wakaya advertising slogan is apt: “Where those who have it all go to get away from it all.” Those who have come include Celine Dion, Bill Gates and even James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan. Rates at Wakaya start at $1,600 a day, per couple. That includes nearly everything, including alcohol, meals, minibar and most activities.

Unlike some high-priced experiences, this one does not disappoint. Clients who can afford this place will be happy you sent them here.

Each couple has their own “bure,” the Fijian word for house. There are only nine bures, and the 2,200-acre island is privately owned (by Canadian multimillionaire David Gilmour, who also owns Fiji Water). There is a ratio of 12 staff members to each couple. The staff is not intrusive, but their work is apparent everywhere.

Each bure is surrounded by a lush, perfectly groomed garden of enormous tropical flowers, cool grasses and palm trees. While we sat on our front deck one early evening, a big bright-red parrot landed on a palm branch nearby and pecked leisurely at the tree trunk as the sun set over the Koro Sea.

During our hosted stay, one day around midday, we decided to walk the few steps from our bure to the beach chairs set up at the water’s edge; we found straw hats conveniently hanging near our front door. And these were Shady Brady-brand hats that made us look and feel quite dashing as well as protected from the sun. The beach chairs were a smooth dark wood, covered in soft, pristine-white canvas cushions. There was a hammock slung nearby between two palm trees and over a perfectly groomed lawn with not the smallest stick or burr hidden among its blades to prod or prick the bottom of a bare foot.

The food at Wakaya was splendid: grilled fresh mahi-mahi at one meal, roasted lamb loin at another. There were always at least two menu choices, but special orders were completely welcome. A honeymooning couple decided to have dinner served to them in their bure one night. They ordered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and champagne, and it was brought to them by staff with flowers in their hair.

On the nine-hole golf course there were bags of state-of-the art Calloway clubs waiting near the first hole. It is not a top-of-the-line course, but it does have a nice arrangement of par-3s, with a few longer par-4s that made for a couple hours of fun. One hole stretches alongside a white-sand beach. I took a break to plunge into the cooling sea.

Snorkeling and scuba diving, both included in the room price, can be done in pristine coral reefs.

An older couple staying at Wakaya said they had snorkeled nearly every major reef on the planet, including the Seychelles, and this was the best they’d ever seen, teeming with colorful fish.

There is a lot to do at Wakaya, and the resort requires a minimum five-day stay. It’s not a hardship. The mattress on the bamboo-adorned bed was, somehow, perfectly soft and perfectly firm at the same time. Our oceanview bure had a lava-rock-walled outdoor shower; a bathtub long enough for my six-foot frame to stretch out completely; a selection of beauty creams, soaps and shampoos that had my travel companion cooing; a minibar stocked with champagne, oatmeal cookies and tropical juices; and a stereo system with speakers hidden in the walls that sang us sweet Fijian songs.

Those clients who want super-luxury can rent the Gilmours’ house on the island, called Vale O, a 12,000 square-foot villa with private pool, Jacuzzi, house staff and driver, for $3,500 per night for one bedroom, $5,000 for two and $6,500 for three.

The island is reached only by the resort’s own small plane, which does the 45-minute flight from Nadi International Airport (where most visitors will arrive) for $830 per couple, round trip, or from Nausori Airport in the Fiji capital of Suva, 20 minutes, for $415 per couple.

Commissions are available. "