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Fiji-Savusavu-NamaleJune 2, 2008 By: Mark Rogers
Pacific Sun's 18-seat De Havilland DHC-6
It was a refreshing experience boarding my Pacific Sun flight from Nadi Airport to the island of Savusavu. No ticket, no boarding pass, I kept my shoes on going through security and a seat assignment was given to me verbally as a boarded the plane. Nice.
The plane itself was one of the smallest I’ve ever been on, an 18-seat De Havilland DHC-6. It was only an hour flight and we were in sight of land and sea the whole way. It was the kind of flight where you felt every errant wind, heard the noise from the props and smelled the fuel from the engine.
We touched down on the Savusavu landing strip and made our way through the airport, which was no bigger than a fast food restaurant. I was en route to a meeting at Namale– the Fiji Island Resort & Spa, which is owned by self-help guru Tony Robbins. The resort is one of Robbins’ four homes around the world. He regularly holds seminars at an adjacent resort that he built just for that purpose, so guests wouldn’t be compromised by seminar activities.
The Dream House at Namale
Namale consists of 18-ultra luxury bures, a really sophisticated blend of Fijian design, native woods and stone, with a slight touch of Asian influence from antiques and art objects that Robbins and his wife, Bonnie Pearl have picked up in their journeys. Everything at Namale is all-inclusive, except for scuba diving, spa treatments and items from the boutique. Guests have the option of having all of their meals in their bure at no extra charge, or taking their meals in the resort’s airy restaurant. There’s also no extra charge for the resort to prepare a gourmet picnic lunch. Fourteen of the bures are Ocean View, while four are Garden View. The top bure, the Dream House sleeps four and goes for $1,925 a night; the least expensive bure, a Garden View, costs $925 double. In my opinion the Honeymoon Bures are really special, having their own plunge pools, a huge Jacuzzi and a romantic vibe that can’t be faked. There are no TVs or phones in the bures, contributing to a pleasant feeling of escaping the madding crowd. Although there is WiFi in all of the rooms for those who need to stay connected, as well as Bose sound systems. All the bures have sunrise views.
A waterfall at Namale's spa.
The spa is spacious at 10,000 feet. There are four treatment rooms. A favorite treatment at the spa is the Moonlight Magic couples massage. The spa director is Kay Lepper. Agents can make advance appointments by contacting her at [email protected].
The Kava Bowl is a game room on steroids, with a two-lane bowling alley, video golf, an antique pool table, a large screen for viewing movies, a bar and a scattering of couches to encourage socializing.
The resort doesn’t accept children under 13 years of age, partially because the resort isn’t child-proof- a curious kid could take a nasty fall off some of the walkways and balconies.
There’s a pretty amazing array of bold-faced names that have stayed at Namale, including Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman (when they were dating each other), Anthony Hopkins, Bill Gates, Meg Ryan and Donna Karan.
Mary Billings, the front office manager, gave me an example of how the resort goes the extra mile when it comes to special requests. A guest from the U.S. who collected car license plates requested one from a Fiji vehicle. The search was on and Billings found two brothers who worked as chefs in the kitchen who had an abandoned vehicle in their backyard. It may have been dented and rusty, but the guest got a genuine Fijian license plate for his collection.
“The product sells itself,’ says Leba Naka, resort business development manager.
The Namale staff greets Mark Rogers
Leba informed me that Savusavu is closing its main airport for four months. With the rerouting of flights, the previous seven-minute drive to the resort becomes a lengthy 90 minutes. “Namale is meeting the challenge head on and will try to make the longer trip as pleasant as possible for its guests by breaking up the trip with waterfall stops along the way,” says Leba.
The travel agent contact is Emilie Satesh. She’s based in San Diego and can be contacted at [email protected].