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Fiji Resorts Series--Tadrai sets the pace in the Mamanucas--Part 1

This is the first of a two-part series on Tadrai Island Resort which I had the opportunity to visit over Christmas.

Tadrai is Fiji’s newest Five Star property, and certainly the most exclusive in the Mamanuca Group. Formerly an enclave of mostly mid-range and budget resorts targeted at the Australians and Japanese, the Mamamucas have started to trend upscale. Tadrai, which translates as “dream”, opened in September of 2011 and is the latest in this up-market shift. (Two other Mamanuca upscale properties that have emerged over the past few years are Likuliku and Malolo Resorts).

Tadrai differs from others in this class because it’s small (only 5 bures) and with a rack rate of $F2700 per night for a bure, is pricier by an order of magnitude.

Boutique hotels have done well in Fiji and Tadrai owners believe more couples only/honeymoon high end resorts are a gaining in popularity as an alternative to Tahiti and the Maldives.

That said, the Fiji market that has had seen more than it’s share of ups and downs in the past decades. By constructing this new property management is betting that Fiji will continue attract well-heeled visitors who are willing to pay for both privacy and 5 star service.

The five utlra-deluxe, 100 square metre beachfront villas are located on stretch of white sand beach a short helicopter ride from Nadi Airport. Yes, guests are transported by helicopter to the island and it’s included in the tariff. No other Mamanuca property has similar transport for its guests. (FWIW I used a good old fashioned boat to get there).

In a sense the property has the best of both worlds.

It’s both secluded and at the same time very accessible from Nadi. Although there are other resorts on Mana , you’d never know it. Tadrai is built on 60 acres on the far end of the island and is quite private. (It’s unlikely even an enterprising backpacker will find his way to Tadrai).

Thus, it’s ideal for visitors who only have a limited amount of time to spend in Fiji and want to make the most of every minute.

And, want their privacy.

If you don’t have the time to jump on an interisland flight or a seaplane (which is what it will take to reach most of Fiji’s other boutique properties) the 14 minute chopper ride to Tadrai is clearly the ticket.

The resort was created with caring detail by Raymond Prasad, a young local architect who designed the property to merge into Mana’s topography. Says Prasad, “The design of Tadrai is purposely casual and intimate. The indoor-outdoor aspect creates a natural connection between the interior and exterior spaces. For example, internal timber flooring adjoins timber decking to provide a feeling of consistency and space; the detailed joinery of each villa’s entertainment unit is continued outside in the design of the comfortable sun beds; and each ensuite is open to the outside elements, creating the ultimate indoor-outdoor experience.”

He used as many local products as possible.

For example, a Fiji-grown hardwood Vesi (Intsia bijuga)  is used for internal flooring and external decks. This species of timber was selected for its strength, durability and beauty. The tree itself was sacred among ancient Fijians, and its hardness and perceived indestructible nature embodied admired human qualities.

The main truss structures are made from treated pine. Pine has been farmed sustainably in Fiji for over 70 years. The main timber used in the joinery works has been recycled Mahogany. Mahogany is a farmed timber that has become common with joiners and carpenters.

Prasad has blended stones from the nearby seashore into walls of the outdoor bathing area or a piece of driftwood to grace the shower head. Inside the rich assortment of mahogany and vesi create just the right balance of opulence and minimalism.

Stay tuned for part two of this series.  All photos by Rob Kay

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