We all dream of powder-soft, palm-fringed beaches and crystal clear seas, but in the South Pacific, these are par for the course.
Before you set off for your private-island resort in Fiji — a place called Vatuvara — there’s the exertion of having to fill out a form.
“Favorite cocktail?” it asks. If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer is: “All.” “May we stock your personal wine fridge and mini-bar with specific items?” it inquires. You think, “Yes, specific items are welcome — and did you just say personal wine fridge?”
Before you arrive at your private-island resort in Fiji, to your villa with its own plunge pool and views of one of the most magnificent oceanscapes you’ve ever laid eyes on, the resort staff would also like to know how they can help you attain your wellness goals, and what activities you enjoy. You can check hiking and watersports, massages (plural!), and renewing your vows, among other options. If you pick yoga, an on-call instructor named Cloud will be flown in by seaplane to help turn your tense, inflexible body into a warm pretzel.
And here’s the thing. As you strike your wobbly tree pose to the lovely encouragement of Cloud, while gazing upon the aquamarine waters of the South Pacific, personal wine fridge stocked and ready, you will ask yourself some very important questions: If Fiji itself is supposed to be paradise, could it be that I’m experiencing something more than paradise? This villa, this view, this moment — is this paradise plus one? Paradise turned up to 11?
These questions, which at the time will seem the most reasonable in the world, will lead you to reconsider the meaning of that well-worn word paradise — what it is and what it signals in our minds. It’s a common trope of travel, of course, used to imply a certain color of water, a certain softness of sand, a certain amount of sun and spoiling. But if you were to experience three distinct interpretations of the word, by visiting three lavish private-island resorts purpose-built to indulge your every desire, would each one expand or diminish the definition of paradise? And having experienced those dreams, what would you have learned?