Toby Preston reflects on what’s ‘best’ in local architecture. Do you go light, simple and cheap or opt for something a little more robust? Take your pick.
The definition of ‘best’ is always going to be mostly subjective and when it comes to residential buildings and resorts that decision is going to depend on location as much as architectural merit.
While I’m a fan of Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Renaissance in world heritage cities in Europe, postmodernism and minimalism in the new world and even a bit of neo-Georgian in Toorak, the tropics are different. When you’re living somewhere that is warm and sunny the line between indoors and outdoors should be a little more blurred than if you’re dealing with a sub-arctic winter. Benign weather makes for a much lighter building style and a much more porous structure. Obviously in our region there are other meteorological and seismic considerations since we do get our share of cyclones and earthquakes, but for the most part we’re here to enjoy warmth, water, sunshine and nature and that makes for a lot of al fresco living.
What’s ‘best’ in the Pacific? For me it can be as simple as woven bamboo walls and a palm leaf (thatched) roof with lots of shutters or a more substantial structure with bifold doors, wide verandahs and no glass in sight. Either way I prefer a barefoot-sand-between-the-toes approach to life beside the seaside. It’s also reassuring to know the building isn’t go to blow away or shake to pieces in a storm or earthquake.
In the case of my own home, in spite of originally wanting something made of simple materials and lightweight in construction, my builder and project manager convinced me that a more robust approach was preferable. That meant a central core made from block work but with a lot of open space, metres of hardwood shutters and sound foundations tied to the roof with stainless steel reinforcing. This withstood cyclone Pam very nicely but equally the outbuildings, which are made from more traditional local materials – bamboo, natangura and bush timber – only needed minor repairs after that tempest. One of the buildings developed a bit of a ‘lean’, which meant it ended up being a little rhomboidal, the thatch took a bit of a battering, but both problems were fixed by a team of ‘boys’ within 48 hours.
They just arrived with a few ropes and some new thatch, pulled the listing building upright and tied some new natangura to the roof beams and all was good again. So there’s something to be said for both solutions – take your pick – simple, cheap and easy to repair against more expensive and better able to withstand the onslaught of cyclonic winds and the occasional tremor.
Having said that we now present a selection of Pacific structures which make the best of their location; some are private and some commercial but they all work for the climate.
Vomo Island Resort Beach House, Fiji
This stunning private dwelling on Vomo Island is the result of a collaboration between its owners and New Zealand architect Jason Gerrand.
The home is used by the owners during about three lengthy stays each year and between visits is managed and let out by Vomo Island Resort.
One of the owners, Nicola Alpe describes her objectives for the house as “principally to create a home that respects the natural beauty of the island and the ocean and retains those features as the undisputed hero of the property. It was also imperative to design a home all under one roof, so that families feel comfortable and secure, yet we wanted to allow maximum privacy for couples or friends travelling together.”
She also specified that: “It was crucial for us to be positioned as far forward on the section as possible. When we are on Vomo we want to be as close to the ocean as we can. We love the gentle sounds of the ocean and we never tire of the endless blues of the waters that surround Vomo. We also
wanted to ‘live’ as close to the water as possible, so we built the house around a huge central infinity pool.”
The end result is that the owners “are thrilled that our vision has come to life in such a spectacular manner. The finished property has far exceeded our expectations and everything from the volcanic stone accents, to the kitchen and pizza oven area, to the master bathroom and the outdoor showers, to the numerous entertaining and sitting areas, we are just so proud of.” To book for yourself, go to www.vomofiji.com
16 degrees south, Vanuatu
16 degrees south showcases family-friendly holiday homes to suit groups of two to 14 and everything in between. They also assist larger groups across adjoining properties for family reunions, weddings and sporting groups. Airport transfers and welcome gifts are just the beginning of the outstanding level of service offered. Proprietors Lyndon and Symone have travelled extensively with their children and know the islands well. Local knowledge and international standards combine with beautiful waterfront properties that offer families a place to relax and unwind away from it all. A provisioning service is available to make arrival and check in seamless. They offer personalised concierge and guest welcomes for all their holiday homes, 24
hour on-call assistance, and pre and post booking assistance. Their up-to-date website and ever expanding range of well maintained holiday homes ensure independent travellers have everything they need for the perfect holiday in Vanuatu.
16 degrees south also manage long-term rental properties around Port Vila and offer a tenancy placement service for self-managed properties.
Vanuatu Luxury Holiday Homes, Vanuatu
Over the past eight years the concept of renting a holiday home in Vanuatu has become more and more popular.
Many visitors are looking to enjoy a multigenerational holiday sharing a luxury villa or home in Vanuatu.
To this end Vanuatu Luxury Holiday Homes has been working to present a range of quality villas and houses that sleep anywhere
between 6 and 16 guests.
Vanuatu Luxury Holiday Homes offers all the services you could possibly need, both pre-arrival and whilst in Vanuatu – from a meet and greet at the airport to a shopping session en-route to the villa. They also offer advice and assistance with a range of requests such as best tours and activities, best dining options or they can even supply a chef to cater for a special celebration.
Booking a holiday home is a personalized experience and enquiries are answered promptly and efficiently and the information provided is extensive to help the enquirer make the right decision.
Book your next holiday with Vanuatu Luxury Holiday Homes at: www.vanuatuluxuryholidayhomes.com
House Store, Vanuatu
Furnishing and decorating your island home is easy when you have a onestop shop like House Store, located in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Find modern and good quality furniture and homewares with a touch of French New Caledonian style. House Store has everything you need from bedding, indoor and outdoor table settings, to lounges and home decoration. All mattresses come with a 5-year guarantee so you can sleep soundly. For more info, visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/housestorevanuatu
Vanuatu Homes, Vanuatu
Construction and design of your home is in good hands with Vanuatu Homes (previously Vanua Disaen). Operating in Vanuatu for 10 years, they can manage new dwellings, renovations and refurbishments built with a particular system from New Zealand that ensured all constructions came through the 2015 category 5 cyclone Pam with minimal or no damage.
Vanuatu Homes provide affordable housing solutions and a quick build time using timber and occasionally concrete and concrete block. As the sole agent for Triwood Solid Panel Construction System in Vanuatu, clients can expect the best possible result.
Some key projects include Vale Vale Beach Apartments, Teouma Reef Resort and the TVET Centre and World Vision office in Tanna.
If you are overseas, Vanuatu Homes can send regular updates during construction so there’s no need for unnecessary trips to Vanuatu. So if you are thinking of investing or retiring to live in this beautiful country, let Vanuatu Homes help make your dreams come true. www.vanuatubuilders.vu
Paua Luxury Villas, Vanuatu
This agency is run by long-time Vanuatu resident Christiana Kaluscha and her husband Toga Vaatuitu. Christiana represents an exclusive clutch of prime-position luxury villas on the White Sands beachfront at Narpow Point (on the south-east coast of Efaté), only 18 km from Port Vila GPO. All these properties are new and feature every luxury you’d expect from a house on its own private beach. All have live-in house staff in separate premises, walled gardens on half-hectare plots with direct beach access and private pools. This location has the added advantage of being minutes from one the island’s best restaurants, Tamanu on the Beach, as well as the casual bay-side Ripples.
Christiana and Toga ensure all your needs are taken care of and act as concierges if needed throughout your stay, taking care of airport transfers, initial stocking of fridge and advice on dining and tours, they even provide a local mobile phone for the duration of your visit. They also offer an exclusive table d’hôte dining experience for six or more.
See www.paua.co or email: firstname.lastname@example.org I 5-star TripAdvisor rating.
Nanuku Auberge Resort, Fiji
If you’re like us and have a need for all-year warmth, or an easy escape available whenever you like, then perhaps consider securing your very own beach home at the world-class Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji. Get swept away in an easy island lifestyle. ‘Fiji Time’, as they say, is available here in the form of brand new, freehold, 1 and 2-bedroom villas and larger beach estate home packages.
With over three kilometres of beachfront, 500 acres in total land, Nanuku forms a wide ribbon of sand across three serene coves along Fiji’s Coral Coast, a 45-minute drive from the country’s capital of Suva and 2 hours from Nadi International Airport (faster if you use Nanuku’s private airstrip). At your fingertips is their award-winning resort, constantly top-rated on TripAdvisor. Owners have special access to all the amenities here, including the oceanfront clubhouse, spa and wellness centre, watersports galore, a kids’ club, private island excursions, and arguably some of the best fare in the country.
Nanuku is only five minutes from Pacific Harbour, Fiji’s ‘Adventure Capital’. You can get your heart pumping on a shark dive, zip-line lush tropical jungle, deep sea fish, dive soft coral reefs, hike amazing waterfalls, white water raft through huge canyons, or… just snooze around the pool!
Currently Nanuku Fiji Real Estate is selling two high-demand products, the first being the ‘Auberge Beach Villas’. (Auberge Resort Collection manages the resort – along with others in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the USA – and is one of the top luxury boutique hoteliers in the world). Designed by famous Grounds Kent Architects of Perth, these ‘tropical modern’ villas are stylish and comfortable with bright interiors that feature warm local accents and courtyards with plunge pools that make the transition to the outdoors absolutely seamless. Just the way island living should be. These villas are a one-minute walk down the beach from the clubhouse and all the resort amenities. Phase One sold out quickly, and only a few properties remain for sale in Phase Two.
Second on offer are gorgeous beach estate packages at the most private cove on the property, called ‘Nanuku Ocean Estates’. Here you can purchase homesites starting at US$499K, or packages including land and build starting at US$1.9 million. All sites are freehold and oceanfront.
All houses and villas at Nanuku also have the option to be booked as part of the resort, ensuring additional income back to owners. The resort can also upkeep your home while you are away.
As plans continue to develop for this beautiful community on Viti Levu, it’s easy to see why sales are growing as well; and why those that buy, stay, and play at Nanuku never leave disappointed. This unspoilt coastline, the authenticity of its people and true peaceful charm, has to be an easy decision to make for investors. www.NanukuFiji.com
Naisoso Island, Fiji
Relaxing beside the resort-style pool while sipping on a fresh coconut and overlooking the turquoise bay from your own luxurious villa is the kind of setting most tropical island dreams are made of. And while this type of lifestyle might epitomise success to most, it’s a reality for those who want to reach out and grab it.
In fact, with Naisoso Island’s latest offering, you can own your own private tropical island villa to live or holiday in whenever you like, while reaping the rewards from the holiday letting pool which overflows with occupancy while you’re not there.
For investors, this is a highly lucrative and rare offering where they can own their own freehold property in Fiji, enjoy the ultimate lifestyle when they want in the luxurious villa, and then make the most of the island’s on-site management team, who personally manage the investment for them to maximise returns.
Naisoso Island residential resort manager Nyssa Berryman says these villas present a unique offering rarely seen in Fiji.
“Naisoso Island is a small bespoke island comprising an exclusive residential gated community and a five-star international resort and marina development. So our property owners know they’ve secured freehold property at an early-bird price, on an island that is emerging as a renowned international resort destination,” she says.
The villas are luxurious and designed to take in the beachfront and majestic mountain views that surround the picturesque island, which is joined to the mainland by a large 20-metre bridge.
“These residences are 300sqm and over, under-roof, and are designed to make the most of the tropical climate, with expansive living areas that open up to private pools and landscaped gardens. For the AU$1.3m price point, you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck, not to mention a lifestyle that will be the envy of everyone you know.”
The small residential precinct on Naisoso Island boasts some of Fiji’s most exclusive and elaborate homes, making it a highly sought-after lifestyle choice for investors who are now referring to it as the jewel in Fiji’s crown.
“Naisoso Island and everything it stands for has certainly raised the bar in Fiji. Everyone who comes here falls in love with the place and can see not only the potential to be a part of an emerging integrated resort hub, but future capital growth matched with lifestyle and returns,” says Nyssa.
However Nyssa says the window of opportunity to secure a piece of Naisoso Island for yourself is slowly closing.
“We only have a few vacant parcels of land left as well as only a select few of the beautiful villas available to purchase.
“Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Casa de Mar and Reef House
Casa De Mar is Vanuatu’s most popular family luxury holiday home and rated ‘Top Vacation Rental – Vanuatu’ by Tripadvisor for 2013 and ‘Tripadvisor
Certificate of Excellence for 2014’ . Pamper yourself in your own private luxurious 4 bedroom beach retreat located on the famous Whitesands Beach just 15 minutes from downtown Port Vila. See Vanuatu Executive Retreats: www.vanuaturetreat.com
The magnificent Reef House has been designed by renowned Australian architect Peter Stutchbury for modern island living and is among the finest villas on Efaté for holiday rental. Situated on the shores of Teouma Bay and just a 15-minute drive from town, this stunning property offers accommodation for up to 12 people across its five bedrooms, with on-site staff available five days per week. Its inclusions range from a fully fenced in-ground pool to three bathrooms, one with a sunken bath, plus two outdoor showers. There is also a full modern kitchen with large gas/electric oven, double dishwasher and an external galley kitchen for outdoor catering and meals.
The secluded bay is sheltered for swimming and snorkelling, and perfect for children and adults taking those long refreshing ocean dips.
Maui Bay, Fiji
Stunning Maui Bay is situated along Fiji’s picturesque Coral Coast on the main island Viti Levu.
Maui Bay is Fiji’s finest subdivision and home/life opportunity, located about 100 km from both Suva and Nadi International Airports. For decades visitors have been holidaying along the Coral Coast – now it’s your opportunity to call it home.
Maui Bay offers guaranteed freehold title land ownership to investors with full time residency and citizenship also on offer to new owners. Residential, special use tourism and commercial zoned properties include a hotel site, 27 beachfront properties and hillside lots, all now available.
New and existing owners have been enjoying substantial returns from the holiday rental market.
Maui Bay lot owners can enjoy access to their exclusive beachfront clubhouse boasting a swimming pool, kitchen and dining area and water sport activities.
Vacant lots are now available for sale with special offers for cash buyers, or vendor finance (20% deposit with 7% interest over 8 years) is available.
Set in an established, tropical garden, and perched on the stunning mouth of Erakor lagoon, this modern Port Vila home boasts a 50-metre private waterfrontage and is light and bright, featuring marble floors, open beam ceilings, large kitchen with walk-in cool room, fibre optic cabling and security system.
Designed by Geoff Feast (ex-Bali and Vanuatu architect), the property covers 476m2 that includes 363m2 internal floor area, a 74m2 carport and nearly 40m2 of terracing. Although the home is designed to capture the cool prevailing trade winds, fans and air conditioning are available throughout.
This is an ideal holiday home or prime rental investment property, only several minutes’ drive from central Port Vila.
For a buyer looking for a larger home, perhaps to share with adult family members, friends or to use as a detached business base, the same seller is offering the immediately adjoining property along with his waterfront home of many years.
To enquire go to www.islandproperty.vu
Vanuatu Vanuatu’s most luxurious private development, Amalfi Court is perched high above Port Vila, overlooking Erakor Lagoon and beyond.
Using architect Eric Bourdet’s modern design and Australian builder and cabinet maker Bradley Wood as foreman, construction on Amalfi Court began in 2004.
Three executive penthouses and five apartments, a tennis court, gym, expansive gardens, inground pool and Vanuatu’s only private elevator ensured Amalfi was peerless on completion in 2007.
Two of the three penthouses are now for sale; each with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two powder rooms, bar, huge outdoor/indoor entertaining deck and at least two living areas.
The chef’s kitchens have Caesarstone bench tops, walk-in pantries and European appliances.
The entertaining decks are large enough to host corporate functions, with roller shutters and blinds that keep out the elements without blocking the beautiful water views. Amalfi is executive, tropical living at its best.
To enquire, contact First National Vanuatu at www.firstnationalvanuatu.com