Laucala Resort in Fiji: ooh-la-la/Falling Cdn. dollar good for tourism?/Deal of day
I'd heard of Laucala Island Resort before. But I'd never given it much thought until Thursday, when I met with their p.r. person at a press luncheon in Toronto.
Man, this place is something else; a south seas paradise where it's the only resort and the only building site, for the most part, on a good-sized island in Fiji. There's an incredible setting, with lush beaches and mountains and flowers, and an exquisite design. It'll cost you about $5,000 a night, maybe more, so be forewarned. But it does include all your food and drinks, plus activities such as world-class diving and golf, not to mention surfing and horseback riding and kayaking and a 90-minute spa treatment thrown in.
It's the sort of place that attracts folks with a lot of money and a desire to get away from just about everything. And to be pampered like you wouldn't believe. There are 25 villas but they aim for about 30 occupancy, so you'll likely only have a few dozen people on the entire island. Oh, and there's 360 staff.
Even for what you pay, it doesn't sound like a great business model. But the place is operated as something of a toy or a hobby, I was told.
The island used to be owned by Malcolm Forbes but for the last few years has been owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of the Red Bull energy drink company.
As I mentioned, there are 25 villas, all one to three bedrooms. Each has its own pool, lush tropical garden and indoor and outdoor areas and each comes with a chaffeur, nanny and housekeeping staff. You also get laundry and dry cleaning.
Everything is paid in advance so once you get there you don't need your wallet and you don't even have to sign for anything. They have five restaurants (amazing for 25 villas) and have top chefs from around the world, serving a variety of cuisine. The island is big enough to support farming, so almost all ingredients, including fresh pork and Wagyu beef, comes from around the corner.
"It just doesn't exist like this anymore," said global advisor Kurt Wachtveitl. "And you don't have to bring your golf equipment or anything; it's all there."
Oprah Winfrey was a guest after her TV stint in Australia last year, and Michael Dell also has popped in with his family.
They have magnificent bungalows perched right on the edge of the ocean as well as others set back a bit from the sea.
Expensive? You bet. But if you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this just might be it.
FALLING DOLLAR COULD BE A GOOD THING
In case you hadn't noticed, that trip you were planning to New York or Boston or Chicago for next weekend might be a little more expensive than you thought. The Canadian dollar has dropped to about 95 cents against the U.S. greenback.
It's not enough of a drop to mean a whole lot, and you'll still save on a lot of items by buying in U.S. states with lower taxes or lower prices. Still, that $200 a night hotel might now cost you $210 with the exchange.
Of course, it's a good thing for folks coming the other way. And that's good for our home-grown tourism folks. The CBC posted a story on Thursday saying that American tourists in Charlottetown, PEI had noticed the difference.
"Our money goes further so it should save us a dollar or two," said Kenny Adams, visiting PEI from Virginia.
That's music to the ears of hotel and restaurant operators across Canada...
AIR CANADA BUMPING FEES
It's nice to see consumer advocate Gabor Lukacs still fighting for the little guy. Lukacs on Thursday said Air Canada's proposed compensation for passengers bumped off domestic flights is "unreasonable."
Lukacs recently told the Canadian Transportation Agency that passengers should be compensated between $200 and $800, depending on the length of the delay. The CTA then asked Air Canada for its opinion. The airline recently proposed that passengers should be entitled to $100 to $800, depending on their airfare and length of delay.
It's a tad confusing. But the bottom line is the CTA appears to be forcing Air Canada to bump up its now puny offerings of $100 cash or a $200 voucher. And that's a good thing for you and me.
CHINA OPENS UP
Good to see Canada and China upping the number of flights between the two countries. Federal Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Thursday that the maximum number of flights will go from 66 a week to 76, and that added destinations will be permitted in both countries.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY: PORTUGAL!
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a deal today for a fabulous (and tasty) trip to Portugal, priced at $2,422, including $424 in taxes).
- BONUS: $100 Future Travel Voucher per person to be used on future vacations with Transat or Nolitours
- BONUS: Extend your flight from Europe for up to 14 days at no additional cost (accommodations and tax extra) and return from anywhere in Europe
- 9-Day, 7-Night Flavours of Portugal Tour including various lunches of Portuguese cuisine, wine tastings at several vineyards, a cruise on the Douro River and visits the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, take a culinary workshop in Aveiro and more!
- Includes 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
- Think of the food! Most of your lunches and dinners will have you sampling some of Portugal's most scrumptious authentic dishes
- Taste the unique flavour of green wine and learn to make a local Portuguese dessert in Aveiro
- September has some of the absolute best weather for touring in Portugal
- Valid for travel on September 8, 2013
- Includes return airfare from Toronto to Porto on Air Transat and airport/hotel transfers
- 7 nights' accommodation at the 4-Star Axis Porto Hotel (or simmilar)
- Includes transportation via deluxe motorcoach and services of an English-speaking licensed tour guide
- Pricing (per person):
We also offer other departure DATES and GATEWAYS.
Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is refundable until July 17, 2013 at 5PM EST. After that time, this offer is 100% non-refundable