The Talei, Nananu-i-Ra, Fiji

General Hotel Management Ltd. and Amanresorts are developing a new luxury resort called The Talei on Nananu-i-Ra Island, just off the northern tip of Viti Levu, Fiji. I'm rather familar with the site of The Talei as I've stayed at Kontiki Island Lodge (also known as Nananu Island Lodge), a small backpacker resort on the same location. Kontiki was about where the "spa" is indicated on the "masterplan" posted on The Talei's website. The Talei is scheduled to open in 2008.

For many years this end of Nananu-i-Ra was owned by Louise Harper, who also controlled a sizable chunk of Proctor & Gamble back in the States. In 1966 Harper bought the 219-hectare property for US$200,000, and I assume she sold it to Aman for a rather higher price. It looks like Kontiki Island lodge also sold out as their website has recently disappeared. Kontiki always was a tiny enclave in the middle of the Harper cattle ranch, and at one time the Harper manager threatened to sue me for simply including Kontiki in my guidebook! His rationale was that by encouraging tourists to go to Kontiki Island Lodge, I was promoting trespassing on Harper property.

Backpackers staying at Kontiki were wont to climb the hill behind the bungalows for a sunset view. The hill belonged to Harper, hence the complaint. In the next edition I pleaded with reader's to respect Louise's privacy and stay off her hill. I did note in my guide that all beaches in Fiji are public, so readers choosing to walk along the shoreline below the Harper ranch were quite within their rights so long as they stayed within two meters of the high tide line.

Whether Amanresorts will respect Fiji's law and allow backpackers to circulate freely along their five-star beaches remains to be seen. Tips on how to hike right around Nananu-i-Ra are included in Moon Handbooks Fiji, though The Talei's new marina on the southwest side of the island will probably make those instructions obsolete. In that case, I suggest approaching The Talei from the northeast by walking around Nananu-i-Ra counterclockwise. It may be necessary to return the way you came after enjoying a refreshing swim in spectacular One Bay, just below The Talei Club Suites.

UPDATE: The Talei was never build.

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