PHOTO: Nanuku Auberge, Fiji. (photo by Kat Vallera)
Looking for an experience in Fiji that is genuine, inviting and feels like your home away from home in paradise?
Look no further than the Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji, which is committed to welcoming guests via a most authentic Fijian atmosphere while adhering to the highest standards of comfort and luxury. Couple this with a staff that is both kind and attentive, and you have a tropical vacation that goes above and beyond expectations.
The Nanuku Auberge is an 18-room boutique resort located on the southern part of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, in a region known as the Coral Coast.
Most guests arrange for a private car transfer to deliver them to and from the resort and Nadi International Airport. Some guests make use of the resort’s private airstrip and helicopter landing pad. My pickup was in a luxury sedan driven by an employee named Ben, who was dressed in a grass skirt and other traditional Fijian attire.
No matter how we arrive, guests are greeted at the entrance by smiling staff members singing a traditional welcome song accompanied by guitars and ukuleles. This gets everyone excited and into the spirit by setting the tone for a wonderful island vacation.
The Polynesian-inspired architecture of the Nanuku Auberge Resort is both sophisticated and inviting. The buildings are constructed of natural materials, such as stone and bamboo, while the thatch roofs are made from the leaves of pandanus tree and carefully maintained on a regular basis.
The suites themselves are some of the most beautiful and spacious accommodations I have seen the world over.
I stayed in a one bedroom beachfront grand residence, (which I would describe to be more like my dream home). The front door opened to a spacious living area with towering ceilings and plenty of furniture suited for lounging—large windows afforded stunning views of the ocean. To the left was the full kitchen and dining room, complete with stainless steel appliances and marble counter tops. This was complimented by a long dining table made of solid wood and sliding glass doors that led to the beach.
To the right of the living area were more sliding glass doors, which opened to a private, oceanfront infinity swimming pool. The two bedroom residence even has a private outdoor jacuzzi. (To me, this was the most enticing quality of the resort.)
The 18-room Nanuku Auberge Resort is far removed from all other resorts, as they have their own private beach. While it’s not impossible, it’s rare for anyone to be walking along said beach, thereby interrupting the privacy of each villa and residence. In fact, I did not witness a single person walking in front of my residence during my entire stay.
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The pool area is even more secluded via strategically placed foliage and tall bamboo walls. This means the infinity pools offer almost absolute privacy along with a prime oceanfront location.
Another of my favorite features included with my grand residence at the Nanuku Auberge Resort was the private media room located next to the pool.
The room was like my own desert island movie theater, complete with Fijian art, wicker furnishings a large projection movie screen and a killer Bose surround sound system. This became my haven one rainy night as I scrolled through the extensive movie selection, which included new releases. The Nanuku Auberge Resort offer a complimentary media menu that resembles services like Netflix (it allows you to watch movies without any commercial interruption) as well as cable television.
They also have HDMI hookup if you would prefer to watch media from your own devices.
The media room is located in a separate building that is detached from the rest of the residence, making it ideal for families who want to keep children occupied while the adults have some privacy. It also separates the television area from the living room and dining room, which is better suited for conversation and entertaining.
The residences and media room are air conditioned throughout. The master bedroom, which is located on the second level of the grand residence, includes even more luxurious amenities: The vaulted ceilings, woven tapestries and Polynesian decor keep you grounded in paradise, while the large soaking tub and complimentary sugar scrub can take you to another world.
The one and two bedroom beachfront grand residences can house up to eleven people, so they’re ideal for both weddings as well as intimate honeymoons. The resort has a kids club and nanny services available, so families are welcome to enjoy the beach cruiser bicycles that come with every residence as well as free wifi that’s accessible throughout the resort.
Guests can savor the all-inclusive meal plan at the resort’s gourmet restaurant. There is also a room service option for more intimate in-room dining, or guests can have a personal chef prepare meals from the residences’ kitchen for an additional cost.
Complimentary daily cooking demonstrations are designed to give guests an authentic local culinary experience. I participated in a demonstration where I was taught how to extract coconut milk, which I combined with fresh prawns, peppers and onions inside a bamboo shoot. I then learned how to seal the top of the bamboo shoot with leaves and place it over an open fire. The workers explained how Fijians would cook their meals like this while traveling because it was easier to carry lightweight shoots than heavy pots and pans.
The resulting prawn dish was a delicious Fijian ceviche that was fresh and flavorful from the coconut bamboo infusion.
Once a week, the resort hosts a Fijian cultural night that features music and dance performed by the staff, who show great pride in their heritage. During our torch-lit dinner, a group of musicians went from table to table performing island serenades, led by a female singer with the voice of an angel.
These Fiji nights are not only intended to entertain, but they educate guests about Fijian culture by sharing the meanings behind local customs. The highlight was the traditional kava ceremony: Instead of unceremoniously passing the coconut around, (as I’ve seen happen at other resorts), the employees at the Nanuku Auberge taught us about the history of this practice as well as how to respect the chief and others seated around the kava bowl.
I loved how the staff at Nanuku Auberge was always eager to share their culture and heritage. Never have I encountered such proud and attentive service as I did while staying at this resort.
For example, when I first arrived, I mentioned how I prefer to drink water without ice cubes. The waiters remembered this detail for my entire stay. I also appreciated how all of the employees wore necklaces with beads that spelled out their names. That way, when they remembered my name, I didn’t have to worry about not remembering theirs. The necklaces were better than name tags because I could refer to individuals by name without having to look down at their chests. Also, the necklaces were waterproof, so they could be worn at all times, even during water activities.
This is important because you’re going to want to visit the resort’s private island, which is complimentary if you book with a travel agent who is part of a consortia known as Virtuoso.
Two staff members escorted us while we rode jet skis to the island; They took great care when my friend managed to throw me off twice! (The resort also has a boat that can take visitors out to the island for guests who don't appreciate being thrown off of jet skis.)
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The island was something out of a Hollywood movie: completely uninhabited and small enough to walk around the perimeter in less than twenty minutes. One side had a beautiful beach, while the other had waves splashing onto the rocks.The middle of the island was lush with coconut trees and other tropical vegetation.
We took some amazing "deserted island" photography before hopping into the water to snorkel the coral reef. This offered an experience with a wide array of colorful fish as well as wildlife, (like the friendly crab who tried to hitch a ride in my hair.)
After we’d finished snorkeling, we found the employees who’d accompanied us to the island were ready with snacks and refreshments. They had set up a table on the beach's best spot with a gorgeous view of the blue sea and green islands off in the distance.
Not only were the meals, amenities and accommodations beyond amazing, but there were plenty of activities to keep us occupied. This included the incredible spa, gym and yoga classes daily. I also appreciated the welcome gifts of fresh fruit and a beautiful batik sarong that were waiting for me upon my arrival, as well as the woven gift bag that included brand name insect repellent and sun care products left on my pillow with the turndown service.
The Nanuku Auberge Resort was so magnificent and exclusive that I recommend this luxury retreat to island lovers in a heartbeat.
There’s no denying that this property provides the perfect setting for private retreats, special occasions as well as group getaways. Between the warm welcome, extravagant oceanfront accommodations and attentive staff, the Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji is the ultimate destination to discover your home away from home in this tropical paradise.