Insights+

ISLAND BY DESIGN

The very mention of Fiji quickly follows with an instant dreamy mirage of turquoise crystal clear water teeming with neon iridescent tropical fish and coconut palm fringed powdery beaches.

Laucala is such a place, paradise found, accessible by small jet, yet private enough to escape the world and the paparazzi. A secret luxury spot for those ‘in the know’.

What the very successful traveler is always seeking is something unique where someone has thought of the minute details the way they might. It’s the burgeoning desire to experience the desert island fantasy without losing your connectivity or your mind. Remote enough to switch off, but cleverly designed to switch on the senses to transport guests on a journey that only WATG know how to create.

“The solution was to take the Fijian vernacular of the thatched hut and reinvent it in a way that allowed trees to grow through roofs and pavilions to flow seamlessly into the lush landscape.”

The definition of luxury hotels and resorts means different things to different people. At the very top end of the market it requires a very cultured and esoteric mind to interpret a design brief to create something that’s truly original. For the person who has access to anything and everything this is when craftsmanship comes into play. Does it feel authentically like Fiji? Is it unique in a way that is sagacious and not a cliché?

Ultimately this was a resort destination that had to be impressive and meet the demands of the world’s most exclusive clientele. WATG were engaged because they have consistently set the pace of originality and invention thereby raising the bar in hospitality design globally for over 70 years. The solution was to take the Fijian vernacular of the thatched hut and reinvent it in a way that allowed trees to grow through roofs and pavilions to flow seamlessly into the lush landscape. Nature and human design masterfully connected and intertwined with passion, sensitivity and intelligence.

As Kevin Scholl explains; “We had a visionary client in Dietrich Mateschitz who was entirely focused on the design and the guest experience with the aim to create a fantastic, unrivalled luxury resort. He had an active audience in mind when creating Laucala. He wanted to attract high-energy, active people who wanted to explore the island and partake in all of the activities the resort affords to people in the pursuit of adventure.”

The architectural design of buildings positions them to minimize impact on the site, but maximize the best views and places of seclusion and tranquillity. Shell like thatched roofs, timber and stone, are employed in a way that is ecologically minded in terms of construction and longevity of design. For a genuine island experience the design elements were all about consideration of the variation in temperature along with overhead shading and rain protection, and an invitation to the ocean breeze.

There’s drama in the design that invites inspection and admiration but doesn’t in any way compete or override the beauty of the island.

As you would hope to find on an island, the design creates a sense of definition not separation from the natural features of the landscape. Even concealed lighting emulates moonlight alongside flame torches that all heighten the romantic ambience of the resort. Barefoot luxury is more than an idea here with natural stone steps smooth on the soles leading to your sleeping platform, and bathtubs carved from single slabs of granite. There’s drama in the design that invites inspection and admiration but doesn’t in any way compete or override the beauty of the island.

What has been realized are 25 privately positioned bures of one, two and three bedrooms, each a design orchestrated haven complemented by five restaurants with names like “Rock Lounge” and “Plantation House”. WATG’s goal was to design a resort that would still be unmatched 10, 20, or even 30 years later. Ten years on it’s still leaving seasoned travel journalists searching for the right adjectives to describe heaven on earth, and winning accolades from numerous prestige travel magazines like Condé Nast Traveller whose readers voted it the No. 1 Best Private Island Resort in the world in 2016.

“WATG’s goal was to design a resort that would still be unmatched 10, 20, or even 30 years later.”

Clients entrust the masters of imagination at WATG with creating a guest experience and a design narrative that resonates, bringing a resort destination to life with spectacular results that embrace the essence of the country, the site, and the dream of the client. Laucala is one such vision that is unmatched and rare in the world of luxury resorts.