Beautiful Fiji, beautiful you

By Juliet Rowan

Bebe means butterfly in Fijian, thus the entrance to Bebe Spa is a majestic wooden double door engraved with a butterfly.

Through the door is a reception not unlike that of other spas, with tranquil music and beauty products lining shelves, but never before have I seen such a view. Floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides take in a tropical panorama of lagoon, reef and seemingly endless blue-green ocean.

Below is the luxurious Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji resort where we are staying, set amid a dreamy landscape of swaying palms.

My two-hour ritual at Bebe begins with an aromatic cup of lemon tea, and a questionnaire which asks, "How many treatments would you like to have during your stay? One, two, three, or more."

Considering the tempting array of options on the menu, I think the answer is obvious, but I am more than happy with my choice for that morning - "The Ultimate Bebe Fijian Polish", which combines a traditional Fijian Bobo massage with a body polish, body wrap and mini-facial.

My therapist Ashna leads me to the treatment room, which has two massage tables, and a shower and spa bath on the deck. I can hear the waves breaking against the reef, despite it being several hundred metres away.

Ashna begins by scrubbing my back half with a coconut body scrub. The scrubbing borders on painful at times, but I endure it by thinking how I'll be rid of dead skin by the time she's finished.

Once it's over, I wash the scrub off in the shower. Then it's time for a body wrap, a facial and another massage.

Ashna finished by gently circling her fingers around my ankles and sweeping her hands across my back and legs, presumably to flush away all those unwanted toxins.

Afterwards, I have a fresh carrot, orange and ginger juice in the bar, again with incredible views.

Bebe Spa has eight treatment rooms, including two "cocoon" rooms with hydrotherapy machines. There is also a wedding chapel, which doubles as a yoga and meditation room.

More than $3 million was spent on Bebe, which opened this year and claims to be Fiji's first five-star spa.

Spas in Fiji are flourishing, and Bebe's director Marie-Adele Hames predicts that within a short time, a hotel in Fiji won't be considered a hotel worth visiting unless it has a spa.

She says even with hotel occupancy rates across Fiji suffering in the wake of the December 2006 coup, spas appear to be a guaranteed money-spinner.

Guests at the Outrigger averaged two or three treatments during their stays, and other less luxurious resorts have also invested in spa complexes.

At the nearby Hideaway, you can have a massage while watching surfers on the reef, or lounge in a rock sauna while caked in beautifying mud.

I also had a pedicure at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa's Mandara Spa. My 45-minute pedicure lasted a generous 75 minutes and, thanks to much care taken over my nails, the polish was still intact a month after I returned home, acting as a nice reminder of my Fijian holiday.

Now, I am saving for my next visit. I badly want a milky flower bath on the deck, and a turn in the intriguing hydrotherapy cocoon.

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FIJIAN SPAS

Where to go: There are spas at many hotels in Fiji and these are just two examples, but they were great.

Bebe Spa
At the Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, which is on Viti Levu's Coral Coast, about an hour and a half's drive from Nadi International Airport. Some accommodation packages at the Outrigger include treatments at Bebe Spa, but most are add-ons to the bill, and they range from FJD $52 ($45.50) for a 30-minute Ginkgo Biloba Eye Mask to FJD $325 ($284.50) for deluxe two-hour, 45-minute rituals which include massages, body wraps and milky flower baths in hydrotherapy pools on the treatment-room decks.

Mandara Spa
At the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, in Fiji's main resort area of Denerau, near Nadi International Airport. Treatments start at FJD $58 ($50.80) for a therapeutic bathing ritual, and run to FJD $577 ($505) for a five-hour, 45-minute "Mandara Day of Perfect Bliss". A 50-minute traditional Fijian Bobo massage is FJD $147 ($128.60).

Harmony Spa Retreat
At the Radisson Resort on Fiji's Denarau Island Harmony Spa Retreat offers massages, facials, body delights, manicures, pedicures, waxing, hair braiding and bathing rituals, using organic produce.

More information:
Bebe Spa: www.bebespafiji.com
Mandara Spa: www.manadaraspa.com
Radisson Resort: www.radisson.com/hotels/fijden
The web link http://fiji-islands.com/spa lists several new spas in Fiji

- NZ Herald

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