Picture a white sandy beach fringed with coconut palms, a turquoise lagoon and a warm blue ocean, with a handful of coconut palm-thatched bures sitting looking out over million-dollar views. If there's a paradise on earth, this surely could have an excellent tilt at the title. Opened just a year ago, this resort has only 24 villas and suites, all with private pools, either on the beachfront or hidden away in the trees, operated by the eco – not-so-much-friendly but wedded – brand Six Senses and powered by the largest off-the-grid solar power system in Fiji. There are two- to five-bedroom residences for families and groups higher up the hill with panoramic views.
Set on pristine Vunabaka Bay on Malolo Island, part of the Mamanucas, it's a four-hour flight from Sydney and a 45-minute speedboat ride from Nadi, but feels an absolute world away. Another huge plus is the short wade in the water to reach part of the coral reefs surrounding the islands. "You'll be a size eight?" the big Fijian guy running the beach shack asks me when doling out flippers. "Wow!" I say. "How did you know?" He doesn't miss a beat. "I just looked at your hands," he replies. "Really?" I exclaim. "That's impressive." Then he grins. "I was just kidding." The laughter is infectious.
There are fabulous views from everywhere in the resort: the main restaurant, bar and lounge, the treetop yoga pavilion, the deli, cafe and – joy of joys – the ice-creamery. The spa is staggeringly beautiful, set in gardens as a series of separate thatched treatment bures with outside showers and – an innovative first for me in a luxury resort – outside toilets. Treatments start with the relaxing tones of a singing bowl being struck, and continue with a range of traditional therapies, including massage with a poultice of local herbs or heated shells. The gym has better equipment than my local Australian Fitness First, there's tennis, a popular kids' club and, for those who can't help it, there's great free Wi-Fi throughout.
There's nothing that screams "Holiday!" quite like a bed on a platform wreathed in gauzy mosquito netting – even though there's not an insect in sight. The rooms, clad in timber with lofty pitched ceilings, are dark and cool to minimise use of the air-con, with full-length glass doors sliding out to the deck and pool with the view of the beach beyond. There's a lounge area with a bar and tea and biodegradable pod coffee-making facilities, a writing desk and, thoughtfully, a multi-regional adaptor in the room. I did find the room a bit too dark at times, however, and the lighting switch system fussy and confusing to operate.
All the food, naturally, is sustainably sourced and aimed at making guests healthier when they leave than when they arrived. It can be hearty though, with some magnificent seafood and spectacular cocktails. Many of the vegetables, fruits and herbs served are sourced from the resort's gardens, there are chickens for fresh eggs and those worried about the fate of the old pet pig are reassured by the news he's been retired (genuinely) to a local village.
Ah, here comes the true act of genius: the Guest Experience Maker or GEM. Like a personal butler, they're there to make sure you have as good a time as you hope, recommending activities, making any arrangements – diving, snorkelling, water sports, sailing, village visits, cultural events – and solving problems. Mine was far too nice to complain when I called her in the middle of the night having not taken enough notice of the instructions on turning off the lights and presented me with a cake on my birthday (she saw my passport on check-in).
Simply gorgeous. Perfect for a beach holiday but there's also plenty to do, and kids are well catered for with activities that mean you can see as much of them as you wish – or as little. The wellness and sustainability elements are either wonderfully invigorating, or a feel-good extra.
Villas from FJD 2100 a night for two guests (maximum three), including taxes, daily breakfast, GEM service, non-motorised sports, activities, ice-cream and kids' club. Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island, Fiji. Phone (+679) 675 0284. See www.sixsenses.com/resorts/fiji/destination
The GEM – if only I could have brought her home! – and the rest of the staff were so friendly and relaxed, but with a polished level of service.
The room electronics system – lighting, cooling, fans and blinds – was over-complicated and frustrating.
Sue Williams travelled courtesy of Six Senses Fiji and Qantas.