Fiji: A Fijian lap of luxury

By Jane Jeffries

Tadrai, Fiji's newest five-star resort, takes personalised service to a new level. Jane Jeffries reports.

Each villa has its own plunge pool and guests can dip in Tadrai's communal pool.
Each villa has its own plunge pool and guests can dip in Tadrai's communal pool.

It is hard to believe another luxury resort can withstand the difficult economic times, but the occupancy rate is good and couples come to be indulged at this small and intimate destination.

There is now a handful of these top end resorts in Fiji providing something people are clearly willing to pay for - service.

Individual attention and service are concepts Australian Tim Grace, general manager at Tadrai Resort has embraced.

Quietly spoken Tim's most important conversation of the day is with his guests: "What can we do for you today?"

"Guests are on a time frame," says Tim. "We need to provide a hands-on, very personalised service so they can do what they want, when they want."

The list of activities is endless.

I wanted to snorkel beyond the reef. It was out of my comfort zone and I was reluctant to go on my own so Niko, one of the staff, came with me, literally to hold my hand.

Jumping off the boat, we navigated the reef wall, toiled with the idea of bringing home an octopus for dinner, but ended up settling for sea grapes - a type of seaweed that looks like green raspberries - to have with our kokoda (raw fish) canapes.

The next day, our picnic was anything but shabby. Chairs, a chilly bin with chicken sandwiches and Champagne, were loaded on to the resort's boat. On arrival at our secluded island our picnic was set up for us to enjoy.

That evening we watched the sun slip away as we were served mussels and melon with chilled wine, while local lads baited our lines, hopeful of catching some fish for dinner.

I celebrated my birthday on Tadrai and was lucky enough to be treated to a massage as I lay right over the lapping waves in a secluded bay.

After a scrumptious meal of my choice, we arrived back at our villa to a bathroom of flickering candles, with scarlet bougainvillea floating in the steaming bath.

Staff are extremely helpful. Picture / Jane Jeffries
Staff are extremely helpful. Picture / Jane Jeffries

Staff members Tito Daurewa and Niko Saladuadua, nicknamed the Laughing Man, for reasons that swiftly became obvious, say they'll do anything for the guests. Tito recalls being asked to blow dry a guest's hair.

"I have never blow-dried a woman's hair before," he says laughing, "but I think she looked okay."

Niko, too, recalls a funny night when a Swiss couple, enjoying rather a lot of Champagne, requested the hobie cat be put in the pool. The boys brought the kayak instead and the couple had a great time.

"We will do whatever it takes to make the experience memorable," says Niko. "You get to know the guests and what they like to drink and whether they are in the right mood for a joke or not," he says.

As well as activities, guests are well looked after by executive chef, Vanessa Grace, wife of Tim.

Trained in Australia, Vanessa has several executive chef positions under her belt and is well experienced in island resort cooking and produce from the sea.

On our last afternoon, Tim took guests to Musket Cove to buy flip-flops and came back with crayfish and giant Spanish mackerel. Vanessa had been tipped off so was waiting for the catch, ready to cook.

The result was a memorable meal of meaty crayfish tails and char-grilled fillets of mackerel, finely shredded slaw and a little lime zing.

The menu is changed daily and is inspired by international, Fijian and Indian cuisine.

If I was to niggle about anything, the resort could invest in more sumptuous bed linen, a variety of canapes for all guests in the early evening before dinner and a more expansive wine and cocktail list. Small details, easy to adjust.

Island Hoppers transport guests by helicopter at their convenience.

Other Luxury resorts in Fiji
• Vomo Island Resort
• Tukituki Lagoon Resort
• Yasawa Island Resort and Spa
• Dolphin Island

Checklist

Getting there: Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways have frequent flights from Auckland.
Details: Tadrai Resort, on Mana Island, has five villas and can host a maximum of 10 guests.
Online: fiji.travel

- NZ Herald

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