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In my palm, I cradled a piece of purple coral that felt like a rock, yet my guide assured me it was very much alive. “In half a year, it’ll grow 6 to 8 inches,” she explained as I attached my sandpapery “seedling” to the rope where it would regenerate. It was hard to believe that this dead-seeming thing could become a vital new part of the nearby reef. But as I stood on the beach at Six Senses Fiji, I was helping it to do just that.
Even before the five-star property opened on Malolo Island last April, Six Senses has been working to restore nearby reefs. Growing and replanting coral is just one facet of the property’s sustainability program, which includes operating on 100 percent solar power and farming many of the fruits, vegetables and eggs that are served at the resort’s three restaurants. Six Senses also employs Jessie Matai, a sustainability officer, who steered me through that morning’s coral-growing project (an activity that’s offered to Six Senses guests upon request).
Vibrant corals and some of the world’s best surf breaks surround Malolo Island, which is relatively easy to reach from Nadi International Airport. After landing, I boarded a shuttle for the 30-minute drive to Port Denarau Marina, then hopped into a speedboat for the 45-minute commute to Six Senses. (Alternatively, guests can take a 10-minute helicopter ride from Nadi to the hotel, at a cost of about $280 per person, each way).
Although I glimpsed boat traffic from Six Senses’ neighboring resorts (which include Likuliku Lagoon Resort and Lomani Island Resort), I felt pleasantly secluded once on property.
Partly, that’s by design. Mud flats once dominated this stretch of coastline, so the resort’s developers constructed everything that the 120-acre property would require: They erected rock walls to shelter the marina’s docks, hauled in sand to make the beach and even built two small islands in the new lagoon. Twenty-four guest villas and 60 residences hug the shore, and behind them, steep, arid hills create a natural fence around the enclave. Guests can choose to rent one of the two- to five-bedroom residences, or stay in one of the smaller one- and two-bedroom villas.
Checking into my beachfront villa, I discovered that Six Senses’ version of sustainability feels plenty indulgent. I enjoyed air-conditioning at night but switched it off during the day and opened the sliding glass doors between my living room and deck. All 24 villas include private swimming pools, so I started off most mornings with a dip in the water, then followed the short path to the beach on a seashell-collecting mission.
More indulgences awaited at Tovolea, the resort’s main eatery. The open-air, poolside design let me savor views of turquoise water while I sipped tepache and the other fermented “living sodas” that the resort brews on-property. All are rich in healthful probiotics — and make delicious cocktail mixers. The resort’s signature “G&G,” for example, blends spicy ginger beer and gin.
Open for breakfast (included in the room rate), lunch and dinner, Tovolea acts as the resort’s de facto lobby and social hub. Though service was slow, the food was well-worth waiting for: Traditional Fijian dishes (such as kokoda, a fish and coconut combo) share billing with burgers and lobster tacos. A second restaurant, RaRa Restaurant and Bar, overlooks the marina and offers fine-dining dinner service, often with a prix-fixe theme (I opted for the “Seafood Festival” of ceviche, grilled lobster, green-lipped mussels, whole snapper and more).
There are relatively few day trips available from Six Senses (the most appealing option is to book the Big Blue Fiji catamaran for some offshore island-hopping), but there’s plenty to do on-property. The spa menu alone is so comprehensive that I could have filled a whole week with treatments. Other standouts include surfing lessons, aerial yoga on a breezy hillside platform and a Grow With Six Senses childcare program (the under-10 crowd was amply represented among the guests during my stay).
Some amenities, such as the spa’s sauna and steam room, were still under construction, along with 47 additional residences. Consequently, the sound of pounding hammers and heavy truck traffic often interrupted the resort’s serenity.
However, the turquoise ocean views made it easy to tune out the noise. One evening, as the setting sun lured guests to the beach to ogle the sky’s streaks of pink and orange, I was impressed by the diversity of Six Senses’ visitors. Tots played in the sand, Instagrammers snapped selfies of their glamorous fashions, honeymooners clinked glasses, and surfers replayed the day’s adrenaline highs — yet the South Pacific sunset united us in wonder.
The DetailsSix Senses Fijiwww.sixsenses.com