June 13, 2011

Yasawa Island, Fiji: Yasawa Island Resort and Spa; hotel review

Yasawa Island Resort and Spa 

On Yasawa Island’s upper west side, 679-666-3364. No children under 12 except during 20 specified weeks. 18 units (12 private bures, 3 duplex bures). Pool; tennis court; full-service spa.  

The private Yasawa Island Resort and Spa is reached by chartered small-plane transfer that beats anything Disney has to offer.

A superb upper-end resort, it offers an idyllic white-sand beach and every comfort you wouldn’t expect in such a hard-to-reach location. It is not glossy or polished but offers the essential luxuries and the experience of getting in touch with nature, local culture, and yourself. The central public complex was burned by an unfortunate fire in December 2009 and has been replaced with a more contemporary but still comfortable lounge, bar, and restaurant. Fortunately, the individual bures were not damaged and are superbly decorated in contemporary Fijian style, with a thatched roof, breeze-permitting plantation shutters, an expansive deck, an outdoor shower, a personal hammock, and a private beach hut at the edge of the water.

Meals and soft drinks are included, but alcoholic drinks are extra. Guests gather at the open-air bar at sunset and begin ordering cold Fijian beer and frothy Fijian rum-fueled cocktails. A fave cocktail is the Yasawa White Surf, made with local Fijian OP dark rum--which the bartender claims is the strongest in the world at 58%--white rum, fresh banana, and cream, but after drinking one, most guests are still able to stand. Succulent seafood is caught daily just offshore, and lobster plucked from the nearby reefs is a specialty. Guests may dine at the restaurant, on a deserted beach, or in their bure, as they please. A traditional Fijian feast is presented weekly with all the food cooked in a pit dug in the sand; it also features a meke of traditional Fijian song and dance performed by the local villagers.

A prime excursion takes guest via speedboat to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves/Blue Lagoon Caves at the southern end of Yasawa Island for a swim within its chambers and a look-see at the low-key shell market. This spectacular lagoon was one of the settings for the 1980 movie, “Blue Lagoon,” starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins.

The resort’s land is owned by nearby Bukama Village, and the village also supplies many of the employees. With the permission of the chief, guests can visit to attend Sunday church service (kids squirm, parents shush, and clothes wave outside on clotheslines in the sun; men attend barefoot in suit jackets, ties, and knee-length sulus) or to just meet some of the villagers. All activities are included except spa treatments, scuba diving, and sports fishing. A Wedding Packaged includes a tala tala—the priest who performs weddings.

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