Perched amid lush hillside gardens in Fiji, Taveuni Palms hotel boasts postcard-worthy Pacific island panoramas. Offering peerless privacy and pampering, each of the three spacious two-bedroom villas comes with a seven-person dedicated staff, so you’ll be treated to first-class dining and soothing massages without having to lift a finger.
Two exclusive-hire pool villas, each with two suites.
10am, but flexible subject to availability and a half-day rate. Check-in, 2pm (for guaranteed early check-in, you'll need to book the night before).
Double rooms from $1308.00, excluding tax at 25 per cent.
Rates cover welcome champagne and post-flight massage, all meals (including a five-course dinner), select non-alcoholic drinks, private dining, seven staff, hotel activities (guided snorkelling, kayaks, cooking lessons) and return Matei Airport transfers.
Spa treatments come to you, with therapists setting up massage tables on your open-air terrace (there’s no standalone spa). Drift off to the sounds of the sea and birdsong, as the long, sweeping Fijian stroke technique soothes away stress.
At the hotel
Private beach, bikes, boat, kayaks, gardens, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, iPod loaded with 500 songs, library of books, CDs, DVDs and board games, computer, fully stocked maxibar and kitchen, Pure Fiji toiletries, deck, hammock.
Our favourite rooms
Both of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas is wow-worthy, but the Lower Beach Villa is handiest for beach access; the Upper Horizon Villa, between the two, works a more Balinese style. All come with romantic outdoor double showers; the top two villas also sport white stone baths in courtyards. Your villa staff includes a manager, two chefs, waiter, barman, housemaid and nanny, housed in separate quarters.
Each villa has its own private plunge pool, flanked by shaded day-beds and dining areas with panoramic Pacific views. Spot live-aboard diving yachts sailing past while you lap and laze, or dolphins frolicking in the waves.
Binoculars for scanning the azure horizon wouldn’t go amiss, but Taveuni’s savvy Brit/Kiwi owners have pretty much thought of everything, so just bring convivial companions to help you appreciate this peaceful paradise.
Alcohol, spa treatments, diving and excursions cost extra, as do golf and tennis (available nearby). There's a three per cent surcharge for all credit card payments. Smoking is allowed outdoors only.
Welcome, with intimate family time assured in Taveuni Palms' private villas. Baby cots and extra beds for children under six can be supplied for free. Free babysitting with a nanny and a kids' menu are also available.
Children are welcome at Taveuni Palms, where the spacious villas, switched-on staff and total privacy make a family stay a pleasure. Don't expect kids' club action; this is more about mellowing out in style in a boutique home-away-from-home.
Any age, although the steep headland setting, including stone stairs down to the beach, and tempting plunge pools might not suit curious toddlers.
All villas are family-friendly – just nab the master bedroom, and let the smalls settle into the second room with their own ensuite. The Grand Villa also has an upper-floor TV den with banquette seats that convert into comfy kids' beds, a shower and loo.
There's isn't a formal one, but co-owner Kelley sometimes invites children over to play with her kids at her house nearby, where there's a children's trampoline.
Many of the adult activities here work well for children, especially older ones, including walks to waterfalls, a visit to a pearl farm, or kayaking, boat trips and private island picnics. Taveuni also entertains the smalls with snorkelling, Fijian weaving lessons and coconut experiences. Babysitting is available with a staff nanny, free of charge.
There’s no dedicated children’s pool, but kids can play in your private outdoor villa pool, and floats are available.
Your personal chefs can whip up tasty dishes to appeal to junior appetites or picky eaters, and can even involve children in a cooking class to inspire them. Kids can eat with you or the nanny anytime, anywhere, with plenty of airy outdoor dining spots for relaxed gatherings.
Available with a staff nanny, free of charge.
No need to pack
Baby cots, provided for free. If you require any other child-friendly equipment for your stay, just request it upon reservation, and the hotel will try to oblige.
Extra beds for older children aged under six are also gratis.
The delicious food ticks the three eco trends du jour – organic, seasonal and locally sourced – drawing on Fijian produce such as cassava, papaya and coconut, with homegrown vegetables, herbs and rainforest aromatics (think feisty ginger and vanilla). The self-sufficient Taveuni team catch fish, too.
With each villa boasting five private dining locations, there’s no need to eat in the same spot twice. It’s hard to beat the table out on the deck, or snack by the pool or beach. If it rains, retreat indoors to your smart dining room.
Chic yet casual coastal wear (think Bali-meets-Fiji). This isn’t a place for people who want to glam up and go out; it’s about relaxed socialising chez-vous.
In-villa dining is a private affair at Taveuni, with your personal chef whipping up a spread to suit your desires, served by your own waiter. Expect delicious breakfast fare such as Pacific muesli, papaya pancakes, coconut banana flapjacks, spicy omelettes and mango French toast. The wahoo fish tacos, marinated in a secret sauce, with papaya lime salsa, make a lip-smacking lunch, or opt for a Fijian or Indian curry. Dinner kicks off with sunset cocktails, followed by four fabulous courses, with pretty deck lights creating a magical mood. On a practical note, the team can cater for kosher, vegetarian and gluten-free diets (just fill in the pre-arrival questionnaire), or design a menu to suit you or the kids. Picnics and snacks for sightseeing trips are yours for the asking.
Order drinks as and when you want indoors or out on your airy deck (we’re partial to the Beach Villa’s ‘bula deck’, a comfy configuration of lounge chairs to flop in and watch the sun set). Lounge by the Horizon Spa Villa infinity pool for killer views too. Choose from local and imported beers, spirits, champagne, Australian and New Zealand wines, and tropical-inspired cocktails and smoothies (BYO is strictly by prior arrangement). Cigar aficionados can kick back with a Montecristo Havana.
This is bespoke service at its best, so staff work around your body clock when it comes to dining or drinks. When you've reached the end of the cocktail road and are ready to call it a night, they'll dim the deck lights.
Available for free from 7am to 8pm (just press the intercom), with tempting treats such as fruit platters, pastries with banana jam, popcorn, French fries and Fijian pizza (Indian-style roti with tasty toppings).
At Naselesele Point on the northern tip of verdant Taveuni Island, in Fiji's north-east, Taveuni Palms hotel perches on a beachfront headland with vast views out to sea.
Fly into Nadi International Airport (www.airportsfiji.com), on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, served by Fiji Airways (www.fijiairways.com) and regular international carriers. From there, grab a 90-minute domestic hopper flight with Pacific Sun (www.fijiairways.com) to Matei Airport on Taveuni Island, just a two-minute drive from the hotel (some flights route via capital Suva in the south, a 45-minute flight from Nadi followed by a 60-minute flight to Taveuni, but it’s quicker to wing it direct). Return airport transfers from Matei are included in room rates. Check your inter-island flights fit in with check-in and check-out times before you book.
Given the short hop from Matei Airport to Taveuni Palms, it’s not really worth hiring a car, unless you plan on exploring the rest of the island under your own steam. The hotel provides drivers and vehicles for all Taveuni tours and trips though, so why not let them take the strain?
When only a helicopter will do, try Island Hoppers (www.helicopters.com.fj), for fast connections from Nadi to Matei. If you’re connecting to Taveuni from smaller offshore islands Qamea or Matangi, your hotel will arrange the short boat/car rides; from larger Vanua Levu island, inquire about charter boats, but it'll be more comfortable and quicker to fly.
Worth getting out of bed for
Free activities at Taveuni Palms include swimming off your small private beach, kayaking around the island, great solo or guided snorkelling on the house reef and bikes for exploring. Foodies can take a cooking class with the chef to learn how to make the villa’s papaya soup, cassava chips and coconut pesto dip; nimble-fingered guests can craft flower leis (garlands) or head decorations. Too taxing? The groundsmen will climb a tree to fetch you a fresh coconut to savour by the pool.
At extra cost, spa treatments on your terrace are a must, using Pure Fiji products and a mix of island and global massage styles. Book after breakfast for daily pampering from 8am to 5pm. Taveuni Island’s waters are considered the soft-coral capital of the world, so diving here is a thrill, with rainbow-bright reef fish, and possible turtle, ray and dolphin sightings. The hotel can hook you up with a PADI-certified operator, Taveuni Ocean Sports, for dives or courses, including striking sites such as Rainbow Reef, the Great White Wall and the Yellow Grotto. Guided snorkelling tours to further flung reefs or surfing trips to ride offshore breaks are also up for grabs.
Popular excursions include horse riding from Vuna, with scenic mountain and island views, and a trip to the Waitabu Marine Park to the east, where beaches, snorkelling and bilibili river rafting await, as well as a village visit. Walks taking in beaches, rivers, rainforest and waterfalls include the spectacular Lavena Coastal Walk (which can be teamed with kayaking), the Bouma Falls Hike and the more demanding Vidawa Rainforest Walk, with transport, guides and gear included. En route you’ll spy rare tropical birds and fauna, and you can cool off in rock pools or picnic when you need a break. For more cultural experiences, check out local villages, mission churches or the International Date Line, which runs through a landmark on Taveuni.
Offshore, set sail on excursions to Taveuni’s outlying islands Qamea, Matangi and Laucala, catch your own tuna or walu on a deep-sea fishing foray or get romantic with a private picnic and snorkelling session on Nanuku Atoll, aka the Honeymoon Island (the captain will drop you off with tasty treats, so you can enjoy the island alone). Golfers can tee off at the Soqulu Golf & Country Club, a 40-minute drive away, which offers a beautiful nine-hole course strung along the coast, as well as tennis courts, lawn bowls and a clubhouse for a drink or snack afterwards. Those seeking a retail fix can visit the local black pearl farm to see how these oyster-born treasures are cultivated in their ocean nursery and bag some to take home. CIVA Pearl Farm is known for its amazing range of colours, from gold to pink, blue and cranberry, not produced anywhere else. You can also peruse brochures from Savusavu’s respected J Hunter Pearls in the villa reception.
With amazing, all-inclusive meals at Taveuni Palms, you’re unlikely to stray in search of food, but if you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after arrival, try Restaurant Tramonto (+679 888 2224), on nearby Prince Charles Beach west of Matei Airport. The Brit royal once took a dip here, hence the moniker, and you can enjoy princely pizza and chilled-out ocean views. Coast-hugging guesthouse eatery Coconut Grove Restaurant (+679 888 0328) is a more authentic Fijian affair, with fish, meat, soup, salads and regular buffets, washed down with sea views.
Meet a local character, enjoy a sugar hit and even sample some free Kahlua shots at informal Audrey’s Island Café and Pastries (+679 888 0039), where your eponymous US-born host welcomes visitors for delicious home-made cake and coffee on the porch of her village house (her chocolate cake is to die for). Audrey’s is a five-minute stroll east of the hotel opposite Audrey’s Beach, and with only one road, you can’t really miss it.
Taveuni is pretty quiet, with island-hopping rather than bar-cruising the norm here, so we suggest you stick with cocktails on your villa deck.
Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from a stay at this luxe island villa-style hotel, a full account of their boutique beach break will be with you. In the meantime, just to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick postcard from Taveuni Palms in Fiji...
Perched high on a lush coastal headland on tropical Taveuni Island in north-east Fiji, Taveuni Palms’ sexy beachfront setting immediately envelops you. When you arrive at one of the hotel’s three super-chic villas, your personal staff of seven will be there to welcome you with a local song, flower garland and refreshing coconut drink. You’ve got a villa manager, chefs, waiter, barman, housemaid and free nanny at your disposal, and the gardener and snorkelling guide may swell the ranks, too. Smart service is one of things this exclusive escape gets right, with separate staff quarters to ensure your privacy, but a friendly team on hand when and where you need them.
Staggered from the headland down to petite private beaches, all three secluded villas embrace the outdoors thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass doors, wraparound decks and romantic courtyard bathrooms (the Grand Villa’s master bedroom boasts particularly stellar sea views). Simple, stylishly curated tropical-modern design complements the chilled-out location, with dark-wood furniture, striking art, shell lights and cool Fijian and Balinese accessories set against a serene, white backdrop. Dreamy day-beds and hanging chairs make the most of the endless ocean horizons, with your own pool at each villa and a plethora of private dining spots to sample Taveuni’s oh-so-tasty food. Fragrant flowers, glowing lanterns and cool tunes ensure a mellow vibe.
Laid-back yet luxurious, this just remote-enough-retreat works equally well for sociable couples travelling together, family getaways or heavenly honeymoons, with great diving, snorkelling and waterfall-dotted walks on tap if you can bear to leave your paradisical pad. Most guests rebook as soon as they leave; we can see why…
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