The church choir on Wakaya island is like a band of angels, singing out hymns in the sweetest of voices.
It’s a wonderful spiritual experience.
The whitewashed timber church with cherry-red windows is among the South Pacific’s most beautiful, a gift from the island’s owner, Canadian multi-millionaire David Gilmour, built in memory of his only child, a daughter who died at 21. The Sunday morning service is a fascinating insight into the twin ethnic and western influences that created The Wakaya Club, Fiji’s most exclusive and expensive resort.
Wakaya villagers form the welcoming staff of the superbly appointed adjacent resort complex with its exquisite furnishings, silk sheets, open-air showers, seaside spa, waterside dining gazebos, tropical gardens, waterfalls and manicured lawns running down past towering coconut palms to raked-sand beaches, set with sun lounges and braided hammocks and tumbling into the lagoon.
Gilmour bought the island in 1970 for around $1million. A philanthropist with a fortune from ventures including hotel chains, gold mining and the Fiji Water brand, he pays for the education of Wakaya villagers and for blind children in the Bahamas and serves on other world charitable foundations.
His Club guests have included Bill Gates, Spain’s Crown Prince, Celine Dion, Tom Cruise and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards (reportedly injured in a fall from a Wakaya coconut tree!) They include many anonymous international visitors who travel for up to 24 hours to seek out the style and seclusion of one of Wakaya’s eight spacious thatched timber bungalows. Each has a wide deck overlooking the water, private sun garden and individual stretch of beach.
From around $2350 a night the food, all beverages, and service are excellent. There are also three super villas accommodating up to three couples, including the 1200sq.m Vale O (“House in the Clouds”) at around $9400 a night. Among diversions are golf, gym, croquet, beach picnics and BBQS, diving, snorkelling, private cocktail and supper parties, beachfront and poolside dinners. Nearly everything, including personal laundry, is covered in the tariff; fishing and spa are options. Guests arrive by private executive jet, descending over magnificent sheer cliffs, and are swept by 4WD through stunning rainforest to the resort.
There are no early morning/late afternoon check-in/check-outs. Your villa is vacant the nights before and after your stay: guests arrive in time for breakfast and leave around 4pm, equal to two extra days over other resorts.
Aside from enjoying chilled Taittinger and fresh-caught tuna sashimi at will, the price of a stay on Wakaya buys guests a sensationally peaceful experience with the very best both Nature, and mankind, can provide.
Best of all, it’s run by Aussies, now seeking more compatriots to take advantage of short, budget flights to Fiji. Pacific Blue has up to three flights daily ex Sydney. Internet fares from $279. one-way include taxes. www.pacificblue.com.au and www.wakaya.com.