THE waterfall gushes like a South Pacific socialite and indeed, that’s precisely how I feel, lounging in this crisp, private pool, replete with my own bodyguard to ensure no one interrupts my island idyll. I am on assignment for Luxury Escapes, Australia’s fastest growing online travel holiday business. And this delicious destination in which I find myself is Fiji’s luxurious Namale Resort & Spa, on the remote northern island of Savusavu.
I exit the waterfall with what I imagine is all the elegance of a mermaid, dine on prawns and sip champagne with Mother Nature as my only companion, before sashaying back to my villa, Rosi, one of 19 beautiful bures on this yawning 212ha property. What I didn’t know before checking in, is that not only is this resort owned by renowned motivational guru Tony Robbins, he was meant to be on the island at the same time as me.
I glance at the full-sized pool table in my villa lounge room, and picture asking Tony over to sink some balls and shoot the breeze. I can imagine Tony saying something profound such as “The path to success is to take massive, determined action” while I would razzle dazzle him with a few of my own motivational quotes such as “Always use butter first if you are going to make a Vegemite sandwich” or, equally inspirational “Never date a Brisbane bloke” Tony, you’re welcome.
In Tony’s absence I easily entertain myself on this expansive property, which boasts an activity centre, fitness centre, tennis court, 9-hole golf course and two swimming pools. Impressively, it also houses Fiji’s only bowling alley, affectionately known as the Kava Bowl and at which I initially thought I was being taken for a traditional kava ceremony. Bit early, even for me, I thought to myself, and was relieved when I realised it was, in fact, a bowling alley. Plonked in the middle of the South Pacific. There’s also an indoor golf simulator here, more than 700 movies and an indoor basketball centre. In short, there’s plenty to do on a tropical rainy day.
Namale’s other claim to fame is that in terms of actual size, it is home to the largest day spa in the South Pacific with the Valeni Sasauni Spa Sanctuary measuring 10,000 square feet. It is here, nestled among the cliffs overlooking the Koro Sea, that I indulge in a 75-minute Ultimate Fusion Massage combining soft tissue, Swedish, and hot stone therapies while listening to the waves crash against the rocks outside. Afterwards, I shower naked outside. Again, Fijian fishermen, you’re welcome.
There’s also plenty of active outdoor options and I join the boys from the dive centre one sunny Sunday afternoon and we board the Namale Pearl anchored in Savusavu Harbour and head out to the Lighthouse Reef. Here, we drop anchor, slip into Fiji’s famed warm waters and spend a sublime hour snorkelling with tropical fish, turtles and black and white tipped reef sharks. It’s enough to work up an appetite which is just as well as there is nothing The Global Goddess loves more than an impressively-stocked bar and canapés before a multi-course dinner served with local produce. Yes, this is an all-inclusive resort and I mingle with the other guests, before we sit down to the nightly entertainment, which introduces us to local culture through the employees and their families from the two neighbouring villages. With a staff to guest ratio of 3:1, you’ll never feel alone here, unless, of course that is your wish.
Namale Co General Manager Nowdla Keefe says despite his fame, Tony has not branded the resort in his name, as he prefers to adopt a low-key approach to the former coconut plantation which started out as his home, 27 years ago.
“He would bring family and friends and they would open up for him and then close the resort but then it got to the point where they decided to keep it open,” she says.
“His intent is that everybody experiences what he experienced when he first came to Fiji. It’s about disconnecting from the world and reconnecting with yourself. A lot of the staff have been here a long time, 70 per cent come from of the two neighbouring villages and they feel like it is theirs. The service you experience comes from the heart.
“He’s very congruent, he walks the talk and the staff love him.”
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Guests are encouraged to leave a piece of themselves at the resort and are invited to inscribe a stone with their name, which will be placed at a locale of their choice upon departure. And instead of tips, guests have the option of donating to the Namale Staff Appreciation Fund; The Namale Education Fund; and/or The Namale Medical Fund; which all support the local villages.
One of the absolute standouts of a stay at Namale is its private dining options and apart from my waterfall experience, there’s also a surprise dinner option. On my last night I am whisked away in the dark, and deposited on a beach under the stars. At my table for one I’m served locally-caught lobster and fine Australian wine. Just when I think things can’t get any better (and that I am becoming very good at romancing myself), out of the bushes pops a Fijian man with a guitar. He proceeds to strum 10 stirring love songs. And I am reminded of another Tony quote “We can change our lives. We can do, have and be exactly what we wish” And right now, on this remote Fijian beach, under a moon as round as a coconut, that’s precisely here.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Namale Resort & Spa. This post is sponsored by Luxury Escapes whose travel packages are personally tested by one of their expert travel team. Her opinions remain her own.
AT first I was afraid, I was petrified. Gloria Gaynor is trying to lure me into the Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji’s Vakavanua bar where a group of merry Maoris is staging a post-wedding party. Before I have time to ponder my comparative lack of rhythm (play that funky music white girl), a woman – twice the size of me and my mate – yanks the two of us onto the dance floor. We are too afraid to protest and frankly, our South Pacific sista has all the moves. It’s only later, when we see her with another woman in an affectionate head lock, we realise how lucky we’ve been.
I’m on this island nation’s Coral Coast but it’s not the usual picture-postcard experience I’m enjoying. Sure, there’s coconuts, hammocks, swaying palm trees, and merry marriage-makers, but there’s just one of Fiji’s fabulous faces. This journey begins in the Sigatoka Valley known as the “fruit bowl of Fiji” which rests inland from the Coast through a lush tropical valley. I’m on the Sigatoka Cave Safari in a bouncy off-road vehicle which makes me wish I’d worn a sport’s bra. Never mind, there’s too much to see as we carve our way through traditional villages before arriving at our destination, and besides, with my bra-less breasts I feel like I’m embracing the inner islander I’m convinced lays inside every uptight white person.
At this stage, I should point out that The Global Goddess is not very intrepid. I’m clumsy, I slip, I trip, and I break bones in the most unlikely of scenarios. I’m talking situations so incredulous, that I have to sometimes lie to emergency room doctors about how events unfolded. But on this occasion, I’m in good company with a group of new friends for whom strange things also seem to happen. And thus we march bravely forth.
“You’re in the jungle now,” our host says simply and with that, we begin a muddy trek down to the Naihehe Cave where the Sautabu people used to eat their enemies. Little white girls like me wouldn’t have stood a chance. We wade through cool water and pass through three chambers including a tight spot known as the pregnancy passage – if you get stuck, it means you are pregnant. Thankfully, there’s none of that here today. Unfortunately, for my friend Laura, who has indulged in a fake tan before her Fiji trip, the cave water does act like a paint stripper, and she emerges looking part Pointer Sister and part Scissor Sisters. Chantay is convinced there’s a (harmless) bug in her hair, I’m thinking about sex, and Shannon is already talking about what she wants for dinner.
Back in the village with the chief and a group of his men, I introduce myself as The Global Goddess and they nod like it’s the most natural thing in the world as we share a sacred cup of kava and partake in this honourable tradition. I only wonder what he makes of me and my motley crew of mates.
The next day I meet Fred, Fiji’s rare crested iguana at the Kula Ecopark Fiji. This is Fiji’s only wildlife park and facility for the breeding of endangered species as well as the only free environmental educational facility for school children. Lounging lizards not your thing? Well you can also cuddle a boa constrictor, or simply wander through this lush acreage punctuated with turtles, birds and bats. Chantay wraps the baby boa around her arm and it gives her a little nip, Laura has gone all jungle-girl in leopard print and lipstick, I’m thinking about sex, and Shannon is talking about lunch.
We spend the afternoon in the Bebe Spa Sanctuary – I told you we were hard core – where I have booked the Ultimate Bebe Fijian Polish. This two-hour treatment includes something called a Dilo (I swear I read dildo) and leaves me scrubbed seashell-smooth and relaxed. At the end of the two hours my therapist looks puzzled and asks whether I have another treatment booked. I reply in the negative and look at the piece of paper she is clutching in her palm. It says simply “back wax.” First I escape the Maori wedding, only to have a close call with a back wax.
We amble back down the hill to the resort. It’s dinner time, Chantay now has pretty pink nails, Laura has survived the massage she had originally feared, I’m thinking about sex and Shannon is talking about food.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji – http://www.outriggerfiji.com. Guests who stay in the resort’s bures and suites enjoy a daily Talai butler service where an attractive Fijian arrives daily with champagne and canapés at cocktail hour. It’s a 24-hour service you can enjoy.
Later this month, the resort will open its exclusive adult’s only pool and poolside bistro called Vahavu which means to “chill out and relax”.
Also check out: Bebe Spa Sanctuary – http://www.bebespafiji.com; Off Road Cave Safari – http://www.offroadfiji.com; Coral Coast Tourism – http://www.coralcoastfiji.org; and Kula Ecopark Fiji – http://www.fijiwild.com.