An Unforgettable Stay At Fiji's Luxurious Paradise Cove Resort
Fiji’s Paradise Cove is a five-star resort without the pretence, where guests are encouraged to feel at home
High up on the sunset deck at Naukacuvu Island’s Paradise Cove Resort, guests have gathered to watch the sun slowly sink into the horizon. There are just seven people staying at the resort and as a result they’re being treated to a hilltop dinner. Resident musician Si and his band have formed a circle around the ceremonial kava bowl and serenade the group as they arrive, single file through the bush, for pre-dinner drinks.
The traditional Fijian tunes continue during the meal, a seafood barbecue served buffet-style. After dinner everyone piles on to the back of a tractor trailer lined with Fijian mats to take the bumpy, winding road down to the rooms, with just a torch as headlights. “I’m not going to forget this experience in a while,” says one smiling guest to his wife. And it’s true; this is one of those travel anecdotes that stay with you.
It’s these kinds of memorable moments that the management of Paradise Cove prides itself on.
“We really put an effort into celebrating things,” says co-general manager Mary-Ann du Plessis, who runs the resort alongside partner Ross Buchanan. “That’s what sets us apart. We have the ability to tailor-make an experience. There’s a huge emphasis on looking at your guests and saying ‘What can I do for that guest that will make their stay that much better?’. Sometimes the smallest gesture like a birthday cake and the staff singing to them can make a difference. We try to take it another step every time.”
Serving up a sunset barbecue doesn’t happen all that often at Paradise Cove, but Mary-Ann saw the unusually small number of guests as an opportunity. “It’s something special we could do with that few guests in the house,” she says.
Paradise Cove is a five-star resort in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands, where the cliche of azure blue water meeting pristine white sands doesn’t disappoint. Accessible by air or boat, Naukacuvu Island is a three-hour ferry ride from Port Denarau or a 20-minute flight from Nadi airport. It feels both private and remote, with a 300m-wide channel separating the two islands that make up the resort. Opposite the main island is a row of privately owned luxury residences that come complete with a breakfast butler and a helmsman to transport guests across the water.
At the main resort, Mary-Ann’s sense for hospitality extends to her staff too. From the moment of check in, undertaken by the charismatic Mele, to the serenaded send-off, there’s a genuine care taken to ensure guests enjoy themselves. New arrivals gather by the bar before heading to their room, where they’re offered a cold peppermint-infused towel and a cool drink while they’re taken through a short introduction to the resort. It’s a nice informal way of meeting fellow holiday-makers and key staff, as well as learning the lay of land.
Mary-Ann describes Paradise Cove’s style of service as “genuine luxury”. “What I mean by that is that we are five star but we’re not trying to be glitzy. We offer high quality service with really genuine, interactive staff. It’s not that stand-back-and-serve style. We encourage staff to talk to people; we’re not shy about putting our staff in front of guests.”
Paradise Cove has a family-friendly vibe but couples and honeymooners are also catered for with the recent addition of the adults-only area, The Cove. Opened in 2017, this section of the resort houses 10 adults-only Cove Villas that look out on to a swimming pool and tropical gardens. This area is surrounded by lush planting and is teeming with comfy day beds and cabanas serviced by the adults’ only Boat Bar. “It’s become very popular,” says Mary-Ann.
“There is a demand because what happens when you don’t have kids? We wanted to have that option for guests who don’t want to have to spend their time with children. What we find is that a lot of parents use it — they leave their kids in kids’ club and retreat to The Cove. It’s great for couples. It’s a nice quiet space.” Outside The Cove, the resort spa and gym offer more opportunities for recovery and relaxation.
There are plenty of options for families and groups, with a range of two-bedroom villas that sleep up to six guests. The two-bedroom Beachfront Villa is popular with regulars, with a second room that can be reconfigured to accommodate either two or four people. Flexibility when it comes to sleeping arrangements is characteristic of Paradise Cove and Mary-Ann views it as an extension of Fijian hospitality.
“We accommodate people where possible,” she says. “There’s a lot of multi-generational travel and we cater for that. Every room is set up as a king but we can move beds around or bring in an extra bed or a cot. We’d rather people have a good feeling when they come here rather than forcing them to book two rooms.”
Those thoughtful touches extend to the rooms themselves. Every room, no matter the luxury level, has an outdoor shower. There are sarongs on the beds for guests and Pure Fiji products in the bathrooms. Freshly picked hibiscus flowers decorate the surfaces. There are complimentary tailor-made mini bars in the beachfront and Cove villas and suites, filled with beverages of guests’ choice. Again, it’s that personalised approach, says Mary-Ann.
“We try to make people feel like they’ve come home. People can wear whatever they want, shorts and T-shirts or flip flops. If you want to dress up, feel free. A lot of people use the term ‘barefoot luxury’ and in a way that is what Paradise Cove is, it’s the luxury without the pretence.”
As if to illustrate her point, two women are splashing in the warm sea in front of the resort. “Look at where we are!” exclaims one as the sun blazes above and the ocean glitters around them. Paradise Cove serves up special moments no matter what brought you there.