When planning an overseas spa holiday, Thailand and Bali often top the list of contenders. Now, Fiji, treasured for its tropical resorts, turquoise waters and friendly people, delivers on the spa holiday front too.
Whether an occasional massage or a full menu of spa experiences is your goal, Fiji offers options galore – a three-hour flight from Australia's east coast. Relax in the hands of an expert therapist while the children are at the kids' club. Or surrender to a dawn-to-dusk face and body treatment that begins with a rose petal-infused bath, or a traditional Bobo (bom-bo) massage to unlock shoulder and neck muscles.
Fiji has long catered to the mega-rich (Bill and Melinda Gates honeymooned here), and families from Australia and New Zealand seeking an affordable holiday close to home.
Now, upmarket spa resorts opened over the past five years are wooing health-conscious travellers who have had the numbers of Asian spas on speed dial.
Fiji's new attractions include the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa and the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island. And millions have also been spent upgrading the island nation's heritage resorts, including Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, which now boasts the swanky Bebe Spa.
Celebrities adore Namale Resort and Spa in Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu. Owned by motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, the gated enclave is perched on a natural coastal uplift, ensuring each bure and villa has a view to die for. Its Namale Spa and Sanctuary offers spectacular reef views and it's worth arriving ahead of your appointment for a pleasurable soak in the perfumed plunge pools or a Blue Lagoon moment in the cascading massage waterfall. Order a Meke Totoka Tandem facial and massage and slip straight into holiday mode as pressure points, muscle cramps and twinges are eased away.
At the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort near Namena Island (rated one of the top 10 dive sites in the world) guests are treated to a foot bath and salt scrub on arrival. A Bobo massage booked for sunset in one of the resort's eco-villas, will simultaneously re-energise and relax you.
Many Australians have fond memories of family holidays at Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, a huge resort offering various accommodation, from hotel rooms to plush bures with ocean views. At the resort's new Bebe (pronounced bem-bay) Spa, it's luxury all the way. Located on the aptly-named Heavenly Hill, the seven treatment rooms enjoy wraparound ocean views. Submit to a 90-minute Bebe Vakaviti Signature massage using Hawaiian and Fijian massage techniques to iron out all the cricks in your body.
Golfers love the 640 hectare InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, boasting a championship golf course designed by local champ Vijay Singh. The spa is world class, too, and has Fiji's first ice room, and steam and hydrotherapy rooms. The Kau-kaua After Golf treatment is hugely popular and heaven after horse-riding on nearby Natadola Beach.
The glitzy Denarau Island strip, a 25- minute drive from Nadi Airport, boasts the biggest names in the global hotel/resort business. The centrepiece of the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa is the Mandara Spa. So while the kids hang out at the resort's Turtle Club, parents can enjoy outdoor showers, private whirlpools and saunas and the extensive treatment menu. My favourite? The Elemis Exotic Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual Wrap. Bliss.
Elisabeth King travelled to Fiji courtesy of Tourism Fiji and V Australia.