Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Asia Pacific 2023 reveals our readers’ picks of the best hotels, pools, spas and even general managers in the South Pacific. These lists show how much awesomeness there is to be had at the ends of the Earth.
WITH ITS NEAR YEAR-ROUND sunshine, turquoise lagoons and big-hearted locals, the South Pacific nations are a salve for the soul. Popular with honeymooners, couples and families, they boast some of the most luxurious island resorts in Asia-Pacific. During the pandemic, those employed in the hospitality and tourism industries returned to their homes and to the land, growing crops to sell at the market. This has had a flow-on effect, with resorts now looking to more sustainable practices and self-sufficiency, such as solar farms and sprawling gardens to grow their own vegetables, and produce eggs and milk.
Fiji is at the forefront of this movement in the South Pacific, while Tahiti boasts some of the most beautiful eco-resorts and protected marine areas in the world. With the real threat of climate change affecting the low-lying islands of the South Pacific, there has also been a push to create awareness about the environment and restore ocean health. Many resorts are implementing marine conservation programs, such as beach and snorkeling clean-ups, as well as initiatives to grow coral on artificial reefs.
Cruising continues to be a popular way to explore the islands of the South Pacific nations, but it’s not the only way. New airline routes have opened to Fiji from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Tokyo, making the country and its some 330 islands more accessible to a global market. There have also been a series of new multi-million dollar developments in Fiji, including an overnight stay at Seventh Heaven, an A$47 million new Wananavu Beach Resort development in Rakiraki and services and infrastructure to unlock potential in Vanua Levu. Captain Cook Cruises is expecting the arrival of a new ship offering high-end expedition itineraries to Fiji, including the North, Lau Islands, as well as Tonga and Samoa.
Readers voted COMO Laucala Fiji the Best Resort in the South Pacific, and Fiji’s most exclusive resort is the stuff of legend, with its cattle farm, submarine, and A-list guests. In the Best Spas category, Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa took top prize; here the aqua therapy zone is the ultimate pre-treatment jet lag cure. Special shout out to Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Bora Bora (No. 5), which is located on its own private island.
The Best House Reef prize goes to Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji, where the waters are flourishing with marine life and colorful corals, especially snorkeling site Split Rock. You also love Fiji’s second-place-in-this-category Paradise Taveuni Resort, which has deep water frontage for diving and easy access to Vuna Reef.
The St. Regis Bora Bora says they have the largest overwater villas in the South Pacific, starting at 143 square meters, but one thing we know for sure is you think they have the Most Outrageous Villa in the South Pacific: the massive, 1,200-square-meter Royal Estate, closed in on three sides by coral walls, with a private beach and mountain views.
Castaway Island Resort Fiji, the Best Resort for Families, is heaven for kids and adults alike. Comfortable bures, gentle beaches and a fantastic kid’s club mean more time spent at the pool bar. All-inclusive Jean Michel Cousteau Resort (No. 4) educates kids on the importance of ocean awareness and conservation, and every kid under five gets a complimentary nanny.
Best Co-General Managers in the South Pacific, Nowdla and Bill O’Keefe of Namale Fiji Resort & Spa have years of experience in remote island settings and are avid scuba divers. Their jungle escape in Savusavu on the north island Vanua Levu also took the title of Best Hotel Pool, as it overlooks a sheltered bay. Special mention to Bart Simpson at Jean Cousteau Resort Fiji (No. 5) who is passionate about the resort’s pioneering community and sustainability initiatives.
Best Resorts in South Pacific
2. The Brando
Best Resort Spas in South Pacific
3. The Brando
Best Resort Pools in South Pacific
Best House Reefs in South Pacific
Most Outrageous Villas in South Pacific
Best Family Resorts
Best General Manager in South Pacific
1. Nowdla & Bill Keefe, Namale Resort and Spa
2. Gary Henden, COMO Laucala Island
3. Robert Ring Tokoriki Island Resort
4. Alex Wilson, Plantation Island Resort
5. Bart Simpson, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji
Read on for the full lists of our readers’ picks of the Best Hotels, Spas, Reefs, Villas and more in the South Pacific for 2023. And for all of this year’s Luxury Awards Asia-Pacific winners, click here.
Lede image courtesy of Fiji Tourism.