resort

South Pacific Escape

Royal Davui

Welcomed by stringed instruments, Fijian lyrics, and bright smiles, you immediately feel the tropical embrace of Royal Davui. The private island resort located in the Beqa Lagoon is a sanctuary of lush land and seascapes bottled into a curated rendezvous that allows time to disappear and invigorates your human experience. 
Sipping morning coffee in the warm splash pool overlooking a spectacle of blue water begins each day. Each villa inspires a no-technology zone, with an open-air deck, inviting sun or shaded lounge chairs, and a tub for two—perfect for stargazing with the one you love. 
The perfectly transparent turquoise waters offer some of the best snorkeling in the world. Filled with live coral and breathtakingly beautiful fish species, the scenery mesmerizes guests. Low-tide paddleboarding or kayak jaunts will allow a view from above where deep blue starfish can’t escape your eye. Raise a flag poolside for your cocktail of choice to be delivered, or indulge in the refreshing aromas and inviting touch of the spa. 
The staff brings the resort to life; with only sixteen villas on the island, they all know your name and share their culture, allowing you to feel a part of something much bigger than yourself. The connection with others, yourself, and nature is the most special part of this Fijian escape from the everyday world. 
Each morning over breakfast, choose your lunch and dinner menu over the sound of crashing waves and the aroma of fresh flowers under the leaves of a one-hundred-year-old banyan tree. Culinary delights from the island chef include tuna cones with fresh wasabi, cucumber, and ginger or an incredible tuna caesar salad. Enjoy fried cassava root (a healthy alternative to french fries) and the catch of the day. Sweet offerings at the end of lunch and dinner are delightful with an innovative island twist. I was fond of the ice cream affogato drizzled with chocolate and dipped in espresso and coconut vodka. The detox smoothie offers a restorative zing with its mint and fresh ginger, while the spice of the kava-infused vodka bloody mary is a staple at 8 o'clock each morning. 
Don’t miss the kava experience with the locals. If you are lucky enough to be anointed Ratu (chief), the drinking of kava and singing could go on for hours. Kava root is harvested when it is around three years old. It is cured and ground into a fine powder that is diffused into room-temperature water and used in social gatherings in local villages. Travelers beware, it is a little more powerful than the average alcohol drink. 
Hermit crab racing will have you in deep anticipation to see if your chosen one will cross the line first, and cocktail hour is always a great time to converse with other guests from across the globe and the bartenders are always good for storytelling. 
We were fortunate enough to watch humpback whales and dolphins show off from the deck of our villa as we gazed at the edge of the horizon, watching the sun take its final bow as it kissed the sealine. The little moments of smiles and connection were truly life-changing, inspiring new ideas and mottos to live by. Your stay at Royal Davui allows you to relax, unwind, and tap into what matters most. 

/ Picnic on the sand cay. Exposed for only a few hours of the day, this stretch of sand, about the size of a football field, provides an afternoon you will never forget. At the edge of Beqa’s lagoon water break, you are surrounded by hues of blue from both the water and horizon—becoming your backdrop for a private picnic lunch for two. Land crabs play hide-and-seek, and fish leisurely swim by as you and your loved one spend a couple of hours on a deserted island. 

/ World War II Hike. Many people may not realize the history of Fiji during World War II. The island-hopping campaign brought 10,000 U.S. Marines on the ground in Fiji to look out for warships coming through the sea passage. A ten-minute boat ride across the waters from Royal Davui is a small village of approximately one hundred, where local guides will take you up a mountain to one of those lookout points. The hike is not for the faint of heart, yet the view is stunning. This was one of our favorite activities, as we were able to shake the hands of children at school, and see the villagers' lifestyles.

/ Day Trip to Suva. Pass villages and visit roadside makeshift stands to buy local fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish, and straight-from-the-tree coconut water as you make the forty-five-minute drive to the capital city of Suva. The city is bustling with shops, parks, markets, and people. Its main port receives approximately 150 cruise ships a year and offers a perspective on city versus village living. Find souvenirs or try local fare, yet the must-see is the market. Filled with an endless selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, it rivals Pike’s Place in Seattle and the renowned spice markets of Mérida, Mexico. Its cleanliness and fresh pineapple will linger in my mind forever.

/ Deep Sea Fishing. If the urge bites you, take a local charter to the east side of the reef to challenge yourself with a mahi-mahi, marlin, skipjack, or a myriad of other fish. Guides will be happy to strap you in and help you reel in the big one. When you land your prized fish, snap a photo and then enjoy it on your dinner plate. If your sea legs are a little weak, be sure to pack a patch or Dramamine to get you through. 
 

How to Get Here:

From the States, take the direct Air Fiji flight from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to Nadi International Airport on the mainland in Fiji. From here there are a few options. One, take a helicopter directly from the Domestic Terminal to Royal Davui Island. It is the fastest and most exhilarating way to get there. Second, have breakfast in the terminal, enjoy a Fiji Bitter at the domestic terminal, and wait for your small plane to take you to the airstrip where you will taxi to a dock and board the 30-minute boat ride to Royal Davui. Third, take a three-hour scenic drive from Nadi to the boat dock and cruise over to the island for your Royal Davui welcome greeting. 
 

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Rancho La Puerta

Meditating at Rancho La Puerta

Rancho La Puerta is a magical place where people escape from the mundane to revive their souls and gain a fresh outlook on life. 

Year after year, the Ranch is voted a top spa destination by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. As for what sets the Ranch apart from other spas and resorts, it’s difficult to narrow down just one thing … as it is, according to one guest, “something that must be experienced to be explained.” 
     “We provide the true luxury of time and space,” says founder Deborah Szekely, “that which is most lacking in today’s life. Space to breathe freely, to relax and enjoy what will be ‘the longer-living, younger life.’” This unique element at the Ranch, along with its unparalleled staff, vast amenities and healing environment, is what keeps the Ranch’s guests coming back. 
     Often touted as the original “fitness resort” and spa, the fitness program is truly unmatched. Presided over by a staff of more than 20 full-time instructors in-residence, the daily offerings include everything from pilates, cardio-cycling, volleyball, weight training, and most of the expected fitness classes, as well as guided hikes, Feldenkrais, Qi Gong, NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action), meditation, and many more. Additionally, the Ranch offers world-renowned cuisine prepared from organic gardens, sublime spa treatments, and plenty of opportunities to recharge your mind and spirit.

The Philosophy
Family-owned and operated, the Ranch has provided guests with unparalleled luxury amidst a natural, environmentally-sound setting for nearly 80 years. Founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely started the ranch as a sort of “health camp” where people paid $17.50 to pitch a tent and bathe in the year-round near-perfect climate while learning to live a more holistic life—all without any electricity or running water. And nowadays, as it was from their opening day in June 1940, guest comfort is the staff’s first priority, and they continue to ensure that while taking care of individual needs, it’s done so in a safe, eco-friendly manner that reduces the spa’s environmental impact.
     But the approach to sustainability at the Ranch goes further than the basics, such as simply using refillable water bottles or chemical-free cleaners, as they’ve incorporated technology and installed composting toilets among other things.
     The Ranch’s motto, siempre mejor, means “always better,” and Deborah Szekely believes it also means “always changing;” a philosophy the Ranch reflects from the ground up. 

The Program
Typically, guests come to the Ranch for a Saturday to Saturday stay, but shorter stays are available. Throughout the year, there are specialty-themed weeks like family week, chamber music week, detox and cleansing week, yoga week, and more, including educational workshops and executive wellness programs. During the week, there can be up to five different classes at one hour, so there’s truly something for everyone, all day long, and many are sequential in developing a student’s expertise, assuring guests become stronger and more skilled in several disciplines by the end of the week. A typical day could include:
6 a.m. Meet in the main lounge for one of many hikes which can range from two to seven miles, then head to the dining hall for breakfast. 
9 a.m. to noon Take a class or two or three: pilates, tennis, H2O, yarn painting, volleyball, sound healing, postural therapy, or TRX before stopping for lunch. 
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Take a few more classes—perhaps one on cooking, meditation, drumming, or join a scheduled discussion on mastering your metabolism, brush up on your Spanish skills, or maybe lay by the pool and nap.
5:30 p.m. Enjoy dinner and conversations with fellow Ranchers, then, if you’re not too tired, watch a movie, learn the art of self-hypnotic techniques, or relax in one of the many lounges with a book.

The Grounds
Nestled under the watchful eye of Mt. Kuchumma, Rancho La Puerta offers 4,000 acres of peaceful tranquility, including hiking trails, an organic farm, 32 acres of gardens, several pools, an exquisite spa, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, a salon, dining hall, an intimate library and more. Throughout the Ranch, you’ll find colorful Mexican folk art along with sculptures, paintings, and outdoor areas designed for rest and personal reflection. Take at least one of the morning hikes as the sunrise is unlike anything you have ever seen. Some are more advanced than others, but the Ranch has guides for those who want to fly up the mountainside as well as for those who want to take a more laid back, leisurely stroll. Be sure to pack some warmer clothes you can layer as mornings can prove chilly. 

The Food
Mealtimes at the ranch are community-centered and designed to bring people together. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style and offered during a generous window of time so you can come and go as you please. A sit-down dinner is served at a set time each night and guests are encouraged to meet new people by joining different tables. The cuisine is semi-vegetarian, featuring an abundance of organic fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the freshest-of-the-fresh seafood from the port of Ensenada, Baja California, is brought in daily, allowing Ranch chefs to prepare spectacular seafood dishes five times a week. Many recipe ingredients come fresh-picked, only-hours-old from the Tres Estrellas organic garden, a six-acre working farm located north of the main Ranch area. •

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