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Providing you with the inside word on the newest and most exciting luxury travel experiences around New Zealand and the world, along with keeping you informed of our updates, travel tips, and upcoming events.

10 reasons why you have to visit Laucala Island Resort

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Laucala (pronounced Lau-tha-la) Island is the latest luxury Fijian resort to join the Touch of Spice portfolio of the best luxury stays in the South Pacific.

I was lucky enough to stay at Laucala recently and experience why this particular resort is the go-to for celebrities around the world.

It’s hard to put into words how truly amazing Laucala was, but here are my top 10 reasons why Laucala is the ultimate luxury getaway!

 

Super Luxe Villas
The oceanfront villas are amazingly gorgeous, luxurious yet modestly unpretentious.  They haven’t overlooked a thing in these Villas.  From freshly roasted nuts and locally grown plantain chips served every afternoon, to delectable sweet treats baked fresh every day and a very generous selection of wines, spirits and of course Red Bull. The Villa itself was a haven that you didn't need to leave.  Three brightly painted coconuts sat at our front gate used to indicate “come in” “stay away” or “clean me please!”.  All of the beachfront villas have private pools and direct access to your own part of the white sandy beach.

 

Lush locally made bathroom amenities
The attention to detail, craftsmanship, talent, and skill of all the people involved in running Laucala Island is evident everywhere, right down to every handmade amenity. The body oils, soaps, shampoo & conditioners, body wash, bath bombs and body scrubs were perfectly crafted by the local Fijian staff using the island’s own natural resources.

 

The Epic Pool 
The massive lagoon-style pool that sits at the heart of the resort is a masterpiece. Divided into three areas, the pool includes tropical manmade islands as well as Laucala’s iconic 25-metre-long glass cube. The swim-up-bar serves all day cocktails, my favourite being freshly made chili Margaritas!

 

Exceptional staff
Over 400 staff maintain this 1400-hectare piece of tropical paradise to service a maximum of just 80 guests. Absolutely nothing is too much trouble true to the reputation of Fijian hospitality.

 

Anything is possible!
Anything can be done at Laucala at any time – even a midnight massage is doable! No reservations are ever required and so whether it be a romantic dinner for two, a last-minute decision to go for a dive, golf lessons with a golf pro, or urgent laundry and dry cleaning. You can take your holiday at your pace and find your own “island time”.  Stays at Laucala include all food and beverages so you can indulge from dawn till dusk at your leisure.

 

The Rock Lounge
With its roof-top-treehouse design, uninterrupted never-ending ocean views and the most spectacular sunsets, The Rock Lounge is where I spent 50% of my daylight hours! With cloud-like lounger chairs, delicious finger food and gins coming without even asking, I never wanted to leave.

 

The Farm Tour
As one of the largest Fijian Islands, Laucala is passionate about sustainability. All the organically grown crops and farmed animals on the island provide the majority of products provided and I mean all the way down to the limes in my margarita.

 

The Butler Trays at Plantation House
Occupying an elegant colonial-style mansion, Plantation House served the best array of breakfast treats I’ve ever encountered in all my travels. The Butler’s Trays can’t be missed with three different trays to choose from, my go-to had to be The Healthy Tray which included; Wholemeal Waffles with Agava Syrup, Rye Flour Crepes with Laucala honey & tropical fruits, Fresh Herb Cream Cheese & Crudites, an assortment of energy balls and Yogurt & Fruit Coulis. No better way to start the day! Alongside this is a complete choice of breakfast options, a heart-stopping array of freshly baked goods and an amazing selection of freshly squeezed juices using fruit straight off the island.

 

The devil is in the details
On my first night the staff had noted that I’m partial to a gin & tonic, and by the time we arrived back to our suite post massage, the gin decanter sitting in our bar had been filled with extra just in case we were to run dry.

 

Private Airstrip
If traveling by private charter or jet, the island has the added convenience of its own runway, avoiding any necessity for transfers from the mainland. Another upside is that the island has its own air and maritime exclusion zones, meaning the island is truly off limits to prying paparazzi.

For Laucala Island reservation inquiries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through [email protected]

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Kokomo Island Uncovered

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Representing the very best in luxury stays in the South Pacific requires a very thorough understanding of what is on offer inside and out - which is why I came up with the clever idea of combining celebrating my wedding anniversary with a visit to the stunning Kokomo Resort, Fiji. (Lucky me)!!

Kokomo Resort recently joined our Touch of Spice “Residence Collection” portfolio of luxury stays which is a handpicked selection of the very best luxury accommodation available throughout the South Pacific region. 

 “The Residence Collection” was formed  in late 2017 to meet the increasing swell of high net worth visitors to our part of the world. This leading collection has attracted all sorts of international guests such as well known celebrities and diplomats, through to acclaimed entrepreneurs  and royalty.

So it was imperative that I fly to Fiji to Kokomo Island to research all it has to offer, from the cocktail menu to the bathroom amenities to make sure it delivers a guest experience of the calibre expected from Touch of Spice guests.

Kokomo Island is an hour’s flight away from Nadi.  You can get here by Kokomo’s very own Sea Plane (a twin otter) or by Helicopter – we opted for the Helicopter.

Landing on the top of the island, General Manager (Martin Persson) greeted us with a golf cart at the ready.  He whisked us quickly down to reception taking us past the resort pool complete with waterfall, kids club, teenagers hang out and pizza oven, past the Yaukube Spa Sanctuary and a couple of very large 5 bedroom Residences, down through to Reception where we received the traditional Fijian welcome by the resort staff.  While listening to their incredible voices we were given fresh coconut water (served in real coconuts) which was a welcome refreshment in itself after the hour long flight in.

Our two-bedroom Bure was located right on the water, complete with our own pool and a very private beach.  A welcome bottle of Veuve was chilling on ice alongside a personalised card and a platter of local fruits.  

While I’m in the business of luxury and have a general expectation of what will be on offer at resorts such as this, the first few moments of arrival into our room always remain magical.  I love the excitement and the child-like exploration of uncovering everything on offer.  And nothing had been spared here at Kokomo – the outdoor and indoor showers both have full complement of bathroom amenities all Kokomo’s own brand complete with body scrubs, body lotions, sunscreens, mosquito sprays, toothbrushes and razors and everything in between.  The mini included a full complement of Nespresso coffees & T2 Teas as well as a fridge full of sodas and waters plus a delicious jar of freshly made cookies (tempting me to open).

We were at this stage quite hungry, so to avoid cracking the cookie jar we wandered along to the outdoor restaurant & bar - “Walker D’Plank”.  

Located in a small cove near the arrival jetty on the island Walker D’Plank is set into a rockface, overlooking the water reminding me very much of a similar spot my husband and I had been to in St Barths on our honeymoon

With colourfully painted tables and chairs, friendly staff, a fresh sea breeze and a very enticing cocktail menu, we settled in for an afternoon of Asian-inspired seafood delights, consumed at the laid-back pace of the Bob Marley music playing.  We were treated to fresh sashimi tuna and crayfish followed by stir-fried Asian flavoured noodles and chicken.  I ordered a Bloody Mary (as one should) and it arrived with freshly squeezed tomatoes – no bottled tomato juice here!

Completely satiated we decided to burn off some calories with paddle boarding and snorkelling around the nearby coral and then it was back to our Bure where a private chef was waiting to cook us up a seafood BBQ banquet of scallops, prawns, fish and crayfish.  With a  hankdering for a freshly made chilli margarita, a bartender arrived almost immediately and whipped them up on the say. Needless to say – heaven.

That was our first blissful day, and there have been several days just like this with kayaking, tennis, more lunches at Walker D Plank, walks around the island and relaxation activities like 90 minute massages and sunset yoga.   At night we have been enjoying the 5 course degustation on offer yet again sampling the fresh fish and crayfish from the local waters. 

While I spent the morning getting on top of emails this morning my husband Josh went off deep-sea fishing catching a huge mackeral we enjoyed for lunch – tonight we are dining on his freshly caught snapper cooked whole just for us.  At Kokomo if you don’t like what the Chef has on the menu (which is hard to imagine) you can order whatever you want.  If you want a chicken curry instead of lobster cocktail or you want a toasted sandwhich or steak and eggs, they will make it for you.  Nothing is a problem on Kokomo (if fishing isn’t your thing you can also opt for a catamaran tour on the water)

Kokomo has certainly lived up to and exceeded all my expectations and I know that our Touch of Spice customers are in great hands here.

Tomorrow we head to Laucala, which is next on the hit list for The Touch of Spice Residence Collection.

(It’s a tough job but someone has to do it).

Kokomo Private Island is on promotion for its 1st anniversary with an offer of stay 4 nights and receive a complimentary night’s stay. Book by 30 April. Travel dates 20 March – 30 June 2018. Email [email protected] to enquire.

 

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Our latest loves

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Tihi Chalet, Queenstown

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$190 pp pn
Your Scandinavian chic property with outstanding, uninterrupted lake and mountain views and luxe interiors.

 

The Edge, Wanaka

Sleeps 10 | 5 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From $110 pp pn
A retreat where every morning you have your coffee in absolute peace overlooking majestic mountains, and end your day in the soak tub with a wine in hand under the stars. 

 

Mudbrick - The Lodge, Waiheke Island 

Sleeps 6 |3 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$215 pp pn
A truely experiential stay. Relax and unwind at the gorgeous lodge, wander over to the two different onsite restaurants or treat yourself to an ocean swim & coastal stroll.

 

Blanket Bay Villa, Glenorchy

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 4 bathroom | From NZ$1,725 pp pn
Enjoy all the benefits of a luxury lodge, but in privacy. The villa has been designed and built to the highest spec and every element of your stay has been carefully considered. 

 

Cascata, Queenstown

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$1,250 pp pn
The very ultimate in entertaining. Everything about Cascata is glamorous; from the glass elevator and rooftop terrace to the top-of-the-line sound system and elite appliances.  

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Our top 5 luxury New Zealand stays for 2018

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Lakefront Luxury, Queenstown | Sleeps 8 | From NZ$156 pp/pn
 How did you find staying in a villa compared with a hotel suite?
“The villa is so cleverly split across two levels, it feels spacious and homely with areas for the family to come together in. There’s the impressive dining area with the stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, the cosy media room with plush cushions and sofas you can sink into plus the jacuzzi to unwind in after a long day exploring. All facilities are yours for private use.” - LYNDAL

 

The Boathouse – The Landings, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 4 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What surprised you about your stay?
“Being positioned on sacred Maori land, there’s a lot of beautiful art and history ingrained in the property which I loved hearing stories about. This experiential aspect added another level of 'wow' to the stellar service, food, wine and architecture." - LYDIA 

 

The Banya, Wanaka | Sleeps 2 | From NZ$350 pp/pn
 How would you rate The Banya as a great couple’s getaway?  
"The space is peaceful and secluded, the interiors are plush and comfortable, and the bonus of having access to the infinity pool and jacuzzi was the cherry on top. We enjoyed plenty of bubbles on the bean bags on the deck, taking in the exceptional lake and mountain views. It was heaven!" - JUDI

 

Scrubby Bay, Annandale, Christchurch | Sleeps 14 | From NZ$415 pp/pn 
Annandale’s tagline is “Stay where the world can’t find you…” – how would you describe the experience having stayed at Scrubby Bay?
"The setting is dramatic, the location is completely private, and the service is faultless. We relaxed in the open air jacuzzi under the stars, ate like kings thanks to our private chef Glen and unashamedly lounged around feeling at peace with the sound of the ocean in the background. It was the ultimate paradise." - EMMA

 

Donkey Bay Inn, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 6 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What was it about your stay that made the best impression?
“It was the small details that made the biggest impact. The loose gemstones on the walking track down to the beach, the freshly baked scones and jam to be enjoyed whilst reading in the library, your own mini sculpture park that echo’s Barcelona’s Güell Park, and enjoying a handcrafted Donkey Bay Gin on the balcony. A truly magical experience!” - JILL

 

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The best luxury stays in the South Pacific

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There's no denying that the South Pacific offers the best of the best in luxury Resorts, Lodges & Villas. 

In 2017 Touch of Spice introduced a new portfolio called the 'Residence Collection' which brings together a selection of premium exclusively managed properties and a hand picked selection of the best luxury stays in the South Pacific. 

NEW TO THE COLLECTION:

REMUERA RESIDENCE - AUCKLAND | Sleeps 10, from $NZ10,000 per night

Our latest property to join our Auckland properties Privately positioned in an exclusive waterfront location, Remuera Residence is a secret city oasis nestled in an expansive resort like surrounds. With multiple living spaces, this property is perfectly appointed for entertaining with friends or the extended family. Drenched in all day sun, the stunning residence has panoramic views of the Orakei Basin and the Waitemata Harbor. 

THE HILLTOP RESIDENCE, KOKOMO ISLAND, FIJI | Sleeps 12 from NZ$18,000 per night

Designed for the intergenerational traveller, you can relax with peace of mind knowing that Kokomo Island is equipped with all of the facilities to cater to your needs. Whether it is indulging in culinary delights, participating in one of the many water or land activities or transporting yourself to a haven of relaxation at the Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary. 

THE PALMS RESIDENCES, VOMO, FIJI | Sleeps 8 from NZ$12,075 per night

Immediately relax and unwind from the moment you step ashore. VOMO is one of the most luxurious resorts in Fiji. Fringed with long white sand beaches on both sides of the island, plus several other small beaches, you can find your own new little spot in paradise every day

MORE OF THE BEST LUXURY STAYS

NELSON, NZ

Mahana Villa |  Sleeps 14 from $NZ$6,500 per night

Set on its own organic viticultural vineyard, and boasting its own collection of contemporary art, sit back and relax with an award-winning wine in hand , looking out over the rolling vines and towards the south pacific ocean. With own heli access, all inclusive chef prepared meals, multiple living and sleeping areas this property is great for an extended family or group of friends. Heli or drive to the amazing Abel Tasman Regional Park for walking and kayaking or take a charter boat out for activities on the water such as fishing, water-skiing and deep sea diving.

BAY OF ISLANDS, NZ

The Cooper Residence, The Landing | Sleeps 12 from NZ$13,000 per night

Set in a private gated community on a headland site with 360-degree views of the surrounding ocean and countryside, this magnificent house is decorated and detailed to the very finest standards.

Rahimoana, Eagles Nest | Sleeps 8 from NZ$10,000 per night

A multi-award winning presidential villa, which rests atop its own private headland, offers the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Rahimoana epitomizes the refined elegance of modern minimalism

QUEENSTOWN, NZ

Lodge at The Hills | Sleeps 12 from NZ$32,000 per night

From grand entrances and voids to the intimate nooks, the Lodge marries intimacy with scale. Set in a private section of a members-only golf course, yet only 20 minutes from Queenstown's restaurants, shopping and activities. 
 

Stelvio | sleeps 10 from NZ$20,850 per night

Stelvio is a world-class property that has no stone left unturned in its attention to detail and function. Sitting proud and private on top of Queenstown Hill with uninterrupted 180-degree views of the township, lake and mountain ranges. 

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The best luxury stays in the South Pacific

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The prestigious Residence Collection by Touch of Spice is a hand-selected portfolio of the best of the best in luxury villas available throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific. Stays in The Residence Collection can be all-inclusive with personal chefs and on-site staff or tailored to the guests needs.

Many of these residences feature unique on-property experiences such as art & sculpture tours, golf on private golf courses and wine-tastings in on property wineries. All have their own heli access, or a private landing nearby and we can assist you in arranging customised activities for guests right from their doorstep. 

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The best things to do in Queenstown this summer

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THE TOP ADRENALIN ACTIVITY
Highlands Motorsport Park - Described as an adrenaline version of Disneyland,  this motorsport park is without a doubt unlike any other place you will visit with its range of activities to suit everyone. 

THE TOP ACTIVITY TO DO FOR FREE
Queenstown is surrounded by a variety of fantastic walking tracks for every level. Our favourite, The Ben Lomond Track, is a demanding climb, but on a clear day, you will be rewarded at the summit with spectacular panoramic views of Mt Earnslaw, Pikirakatahi and Mt Aspiring. At about 800m, alpine tussocks and dracophyllum dominate the landscape with magnificent lake and mountain views. 

THE TOP PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK OR TWO
Opening it’s doors late last year, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan has already built a steadfast following by locals and visitors alike. Housed in a restored cottage, enjoy a glass of their finest whilst gazing out to the picture-perfect gardens.   

THE TOP PLACE TO EXPLORE FOR THE DAY
Milford Sound’s untouched landscapes make for a truly spectacular backdrop. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages and is breathtaking in any weather. 

THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
Perfect for couples – be flown by a private helicopter charter to “The Ledge” of Cecil Peak for a magical hour of tranquillity. There, overlooking Queenstown and The Southern Alps you’ll enjoy a delicious Champagne picnic in an incredible sensory moment, where the imposing scale of nature is awe-inspiring. 

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CATEGORY : Summer, Queenstown

Our top Auckland activity picks for this summer

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WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
La Cigale French Style Farmers Markets in Parnell – You can spend hours here tasting all the fresh produce and baked goods being New Zealand's largest farmers market. Leave the whole morning spare with the idea of having breakfast here.

WHAT’S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
The sunset sea kayaking tour to Rangitoto Island is quite the experience! Leave the bay before sunset, arrive on the shore of Rangitoto Island and embark on a trek to the top which you’ll reach in time to see the cities lights turn on. Back on the mainland beach, you’ll be greeted by the smell of a Kiwi BBQ dinner. An afternoon well spent!  

WHAT’S THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
A heli to Waiheke Island for a private winery tour and long lunch is what you’ll be raving to friends and family about on your return home. This quaint island is full of art, vineyards, restaurants and beaches – heaven on earth!

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE FOR AFTERNOON TEA
Little & Friday is the sweetest little bakery you’ll find in all of Auckland. Starting from humble beginnings, prepping all week, only opening on a Friday, Little & Friday now has 4 locations across Auckland, and is open 7 days to meet the popular demand. The chocolate, beetroot & salted caramel cake is a must-try!

 

WHERE’S THE BEST OUT OF CITY EXCURSION
2.5 hours drive from Auckland city is the Coromandel. Head there for a day of stunning scenery, nature walks and long stretch beaches.

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CATEGORY : Summer, Auckland

Our top Bay of Islands activity picks for this summer

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THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
Start the weekend with a buzz by cruising off-road. Truly a unique outdoor adventure, experience riding through forestry tracks, sand dunes, and along the beautiful Ninety-mile beach tracks. Stop for a sand board on the dunes and enjoy the untouched scenery not accessible to the public.

THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
What better way to see the beautiful coastline of Northland than by air? See Hole in the Rock, Cape Reinga, and the large rolling sand dunes all on a scenic flight by helicopter or aircraft. Land on a secluded beach, sandboard on the dunes or pair your flight with a wine tasting at local vineyards. This excursion is a must-do splurge, leaving no stone left unturned when it comes to seeing the Bay of Islands. 

THE MOST SCENIC WALKING REWARD
Completing a walk along the scenic Kerikeri River Track is just over 4 kilometres and totals 2 hours return. Enjoy exercise among the continuously changing scenery, the calling of the native birds, and the reward of two stunning waterfalls during the journey - Wharepuke & Rainbow falls.

THE BEST FAMILY EXCURSION
Indulge in a private boat charter for the day as you level sail around the islands alongside dolphins and whales. Relax on the large trampolines while you are served lunch you’ve caught. Experience navigating the vessel at the helm and learn about the area from the knowledgeable hosts. Enjoy a swim, kayak, paddleboard or hike if you wish to anchor. Each experience is curated to the guest's desires.

THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR A SWIM IN THE OCEAN
?At the northern end of Paihia lies Te Tii Bay, a golden sand beach lined with native pohutukawa trees. Te Tii is a generally calm beach suitable for swimming and fishing and has a popular children’s playground at one end.

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CATEGORY : Summer, New Zealand

ICE DRIVING

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Last week I was invited to experience the ultimate in ice driving at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SPHG).

Having recently being awarded "international proving ground of the year" verifying their status as a world leading testing ground, I knew I was in for a real treat! And fun fact - top automobile manufacturers secretly go here to test their cars!

‘Let the drifting begin’ I said!

Feeling very excited (but in a butterflies floating inside me kind of way) I drove up to the site to be met by stunning views of the valley and sheets of snow. We were each thrown a set of keys that unlocked a luxury Audi that was to be slid across the immaculately groomed mountain environment. The moment of truth.

Luckily, I wasn’t completely left to my own devices though. Via radio, we received expert tuition from industry leading race car drivers talking us through challenges such as the giant slalom and snow drift circle – it truly was an unbelievable experience!

It’s an adrenaline must do, the feeling of being in a Fast & Furious movie set is unbeatable… and I have the videos & photos to prove it all.

And yes, I did ask but and you can’t take the Audi home.

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CATEGORY : Winter, Queenstown, News