There is only one way to eat crab: freshly caught, of course, but also with the shell and claws cracked and the flesh extracted, by someone else, so I am able to enjoy the delicious feast without having to pause and deal with the mechanics of getting to the sweet white meat.
Ideally, I like it with champagne. Indulgent, decadent? Yes, I’m guilty.
But, without a skerrick of guilt troubling me, this is what I am enjoying high up amid palm trees on a tall ocean-side cliff, seated in The Folly – an intimate, stuccoed gazebo purpose-built for al fresco lunches, surrounded on three sides by nothing but stunning views of the clearest, bluest waters of Fiji. I’m being waited on by staff who climb the hillside to my eyrie bearing tray after tray of glorious tropical food – crayfish, lobster, pawpaw, and delicate chocolate cakes studded with mango. This bliss is an everyday part of the impeccable service that’s laid on at Vatulele (Vah-too-lay-lay) Island Resort where my home is a series of open tiered rooms – open bathroom, open dressing room, open-air lanai with hammock, etc – housed in a stuccoed villa, hidden in lush hibiscus rainforest from just a handful of other villas on the island.
My own private beach lies at the end of a short sandy path, set with sun lounges under a thatched canopy. My breakfast of fruit, juices and western-style goodies to order is served to me here or on my villa’s terrace at the snap of my fingers – late, late in the morning if I wish. For drinks and anything else I desire during the day, I have merely to place a flag in the sand and waiters arrive at my command.
Vatulele is managed by Six Senses, a leading international resort operator that prides itself on offering a luxury experience – yet with a laid-back, deceptively simple ambience. It’s a sister resort of Six Senses Samui Hideaway, the Thai resort just recently named The Best in the World … and that means “best” of ALL: with every travel category combined in a single list – including islands, cities, hotels, resorts, destination spas, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators … and countries! Six Senses also operates Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, named Best in the World in 2002 (and my own personal “best” too).
They call their philosophy the “slow life”. Part of it is sustainable tourism, using local building materials and locally harvested foods. Yet with the lazy luxury that’s laid on, it’s hard to always remember we’re in a “back to nature” environment. Admittedly, the exotic wines served at a dinner in a wine cellar dug deep under the beach are certainly exotic, but otherwise the food, accommodation and service all contrive to be superb, yet we’re totally relaxed, feeling we’re living the simple life. Our host, genial GM Nick Juett, is a true Fantasy Island’s Mr Roarke, overlaid with the bonus of charming, rather colonial-style/Old Etonian savoir-faire, who insists on perfection.
See www.sixsenses.comand your travel agent. Pacific Blue flies to Fiji daily.