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LUXE VITI LEVU  

Five star kids can run barefoot and free at the newly opened Nanuku Resort & Spa, setting a new benchmark in South Pacific luxury on Fijiís Viti Levu.


WORDS: Sheridan Rhodes

Itís not too often you are greeted at a hotel by bare-chested Fijian warriors in grass skirts, one impressively blowing a conch shell. Weíre handed a cool coconut drink served in its shell as weíre escorted into the new Nanuku Resort & Spa. Ahead is nothing but blue: the cobalt waters of the infinity pool and beyond the pristine waters of Beqa Lagoon, framed by swaying coconut palms. As smartly dressed staff bellow out ďBulaĒ in greeting, weíre whisked away to our Beachfront Residence, feeling privileged to be among the first guests at Fijiís newest paradise resort.

Here on a long stretch of lovely beach at Pacific Harbour, personal butlers, private nannies and tailored experiences Ė ranging from epicurean dining, food and medicine walks through to picnics on your own private island Ė are part of the Nanuku Resort and Spa experience. The feel is not dissimilar to the luxurious five star resorts in Fijiís outer islands, which isnít surprising as resort manager Karen Taylor was previously longterm general manager at Fijiís award-winning Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. But this isnít the outer islands. This is the main island of Viti Levu, meaning Nanuku is just that little bit easier for families to get to.

Karen has drawn on her vast experience at both Jean-Michel and before that, Turtle Island Resort, to provide a bespoke resort experience where guests set the agenda, and the welcome mat is thrown out for five star families. Pancakes for breakfast at 7am? No problem. Want to go stand-up paddle boarding after lunch? Why not? If the kids feel like eating lamb cutlets and mashed potato for dinner (again), then just say the word.

Nanuku joins a small elite group of luxury Fijian resorts that welcome children. Unless you book out a private island, surprisingly the choice of resorts catering to five star families in Fiji is limited. The other big thing going for Nanuku, apart from the ease of getting here Ė an easy two-hour transfer or short scenic flight from Nadi International Airport Ė are the luxurious, Balinese-style villas, which sleep up to 17. This makes them ideal for families of all sizes.

 

There are two luxurious accommodation choices. The Vunikau Residence is perched dramatically on a volcanic outcrop overlooking the pristine waters of Beqa Lagoon. The five sprawling Beachfront Residences, which we stay in, are the pick for those with younger kids and families travelling in a large group, being steps from the soft white sand beach for impromptu swims and hermit crab hunting.

All suites and residences, with traditional Fijian vaulted ceilings and local artwork, offer floor-to-ceiling windows and bi-fold doors to catch the balmy breeze. There are palatial- sized ensuite bathrooms with spa baths, media rooms, expansive decks, outdoor living rooms, private gardens and daybeds. I loved looking out from our four-poster bed at the picture-perfect bay beyond the open doors.

The beauty of the Beachfront Residences is that they are like a resort within a resort. Families can enjoy a barbecue lunch cooked by executive chef Walther Whippy in their own villa; a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc in hand, while the kids splash around in the private pool. Spa staff will deliver soothing Bobo massages in the outdoor bure as you listen to the sound of gently lapping waves while the baby sleeps, or the family can all enjoy a cooking lesson together in the residence kitchen.



Your live-in butler, or Ďvilla mummaí, will do your laundry, keep the fridge stocked and attend to your every whim. Families could seriously check in and never leave their palatial residence. Eventually, however, you may like to venture out for mojitos at the Club House, a private picnic or a spell in the Lomana Spa.

Nanukuís Lailai Childrenís Club combines old-fashioned fun with a special cultural learning programme. Kids learn how Fijians use every part of the coconut, use beads to make a necklace featuring their name, how to basket weave and more. Itís not your typical kidsí club. Itís all about bespoke experiences, with individual nannies on standby from 8am to 9pm. If your son wants to play footy on the beach, Nanuku staff will happily kick a ball around with him. Meanwhile older children (aged eight to 16) are paired with dedicated hosts and offered a range of safari adventures.

Pacific Harbour, being Fijiís Ďadventure capitalí and right on Nanukuís doorstep, means thereís no way kids will be bored. The South Pacificís only zipline adventure lets you soar through the rainforest canopy. Or try Ďhorse-boardingí, where a trotting horse pulls you across a lagoon on a boogie board. Surf the legendary Frigates Pass, join an off-road cave safari and wade by lantern light through Fijiís largest cave system, or play castaway with the kids on Nanukuís own private island.

Or simply do as we do: collapse by the pool with a good book and a cool Mai Tai, safe in the knowledge your kids are in good hands at this magical South Pacific hideaway, where every guest is known by name and families are given the red carpet treatment.


Fly: Fiji Airways www.fijiairways.com 

Stay: Nanuku Resort & Spa www.nanukufiji.com 



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