Dreaming the dream anniversary …
The Huka Retreats property portfolio has it all! Almost from the day we married, my husband and I had decided that as and when we reached the 25 year point we would celebrate this life landmark of marital longevity with a jolly to end all jollies – a holiday to New Zealand with a few round the world stops on the way.
We had talked many times about how to spend our actual anniversary day and in the end, my husband Rob – incurable romantic that he is – said ‘make a list of your dreams and I will bring them to you’. Well, what girl can resist an invitation like that from her own knight in shining armour?
Dolphin Island Interior Of The Main Bure Pavilion
Making the list was lots of fun. I gave my holiday fantasy train-of-thought full rein, never for once expecting or imagining that Rob could really deliver. There were a few obvious inclusions in there such as luxurious romantic perfection, chilled champagne, huge fluffy towels and enormous beds, breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, idyllic palm-fringed beaches, indulgent spa and massage treatments on tap, breakfast in bed, opulent picnics for two without another soul around and such like. But there were also a few wishes that strayed into the realms of fantasy with entries such as…… to be waited on hand-and-foot, tropical banqueting as exotic musicians serenade us, totally secluded dining for two with the stars as a ceiling…….oh, and a private island to call our own.
Kava Ceremony for Dolphin Island guests
Far-fetched beyond reason I know but knights in shining armour are traditionally rather good at delivering the impossible – be it maiden guarded by dragons or maiden desperately in need of an idyllic break. Dream big I have always said.
Huka Lodge in all it’s romantic wonderful glory!
The days surrounding our anniversary date were therefore all in Rob’s hands to arrange. As part of our amazing Bridge & Wickers holiday our anniversary ‘package’ was to be 2 nights at a riverside place called Huka Lodge, Taupo in New Zealand followed by 4 nights at Dolphin Island, Fiji. The locations themselves sounded perfect but I was allowed to know nothing further than we had booked ‘Romance Packages’ for each destination – both properties owned by the same premium company – Huka Retreats. Otherwise questions, searches on the Internet and sneak peeks were strictly forbidden.
Huka Lodge swimming pool and spa pools
From the moment we entered the gates of Huka Lodge it felt that every inch of the sweeping drive was taking us further and further away from the normal world full of modern hustle, super-fast living and stresses as an almost tangible air of peace, tranquillity and escape gently descended on and enveloped us. These feelings found complete focus as we were led to our totally secluded, elegant and light-infused suite. Rob had unearthed the most perfect location imaginable for celebrating ‘us’ in which superlatives flew around like confetti – utterly idyllic, absolutely private, luxurious, sophisticated…………I could probably keep going but I guess you get the idea.
Chairs On Jetty Pavilion – Huka Lodge
The setting alone, swathed in the rich greens of nature, backing track of bird song and ever-changing colours of the river running right outside switching bewitchingly between emerald, sapphire and turquoise, would have been enough to guarantee days and nights of the memorably romantic kind.
Waiting for us was a chilled bottle of champagne and a bathroom which epitomised indulgence (big fluffy towels of course). It seemed to me that Knight Rob had wasted no time ‘bringing my dreams’ to me as promised but the romance wish-list deliveries just kept on coming at this incredible place. Locations for gourmet indulgence here, it transpires, are somewhat removed from the normal setting of austere and formal dining room. Tucked away all over the buildings and grounds are a choice of 20 secluded and romantically atmospheric spots which include such gems as a cosy, log-fire, book-lined library; the almost novel-like setting of underground, fine vintage-stocked wine cellar; the riverside jetty pavilion simply perfect at twilight and the canopied table for two placed in the orchard for blossom-filled dining in spring which sounds like something straight from a romantic epic poem to me. We chose to take our gourmet dinner at a tucked away table in the grounds where we watched the dusk fall and the stars wink into view – and not just so Rob could tick off one of my more outlandish wishes.
Dining For Breakfast On The Main Terrace – what a treat!
There are many exciting and interesting things which can be done as part of a stay at Huka Lodge ranging from white-water rafting to Maori cultural experiences. However, Rob and I simply chilled in this fantastic setting, enjoying breakfast in bed, a massage in our own suite, riverside walks, croquet on the lawn, pool-side lazing and exploring the 17 acres of grounds which include gardens so special they are recognised by the New Zealand Gardens Trust to be of regional importance.
The best of times tend to fly by and difficult as it was to tear myself away from Huka Lodge’s beguiling magic I knew that next up – and for our actual anniversary date – was the turn of Dolphin Island. After experiencing the heady standards of Huka Lodge I felt totally sure this would not disappoint but still nothing could have actually prepared me for the exotic heaven we were to find.
Private jetty at Dolphin Island – could this be paradise?
Our transfer was by private sea-plane and it took me no longer than a heartbeat after arriving at the wooden jetty to realise that we were, in essence, the highly privileged holders of an exclusive invitation to somewhere extraordinary. A South Pacific island surrounded by sparkling crystal waters in shades of aqua and turquoise was always going to be sensational but this island is private (a fantastical tick achieved) and, with a maximum of only eight guests allowed at a time, Dolphin Island presents the very pinnacle of romantic exclusion amid the tropically ideal.
Dolphin Island infinity pool at twilight
I have travelled somewhat extensively and I am no stranger to generous slices of indulgence and luxury but Dolphin Island is ultra special in my eyes. I had imagined places such as this only existed in fantasy novels or were the sole domain of either royalty or the very very rich. I was wrong it would appear and my Rob had managed to find it. The traditional Fijian Bure which was to be our home for the duration of our stay may conjure up a certain picture when I tell you they are made of straw and wood but the Dolphin Island version is a mix of the sumptuous and luxurious to such an extent that regular five-star hotel stays might be described as slumming it in comparison.
The Elevated Poolside Areas Are Perfect For Sitting, Dining And Enjoying An Island Lifestyle – pure luxury!
My most deeply etched memories of this time include the romantically oil lantern-lit gardens at twilight, choosing our seafood dinner personally from the catch of the local fisherman who stopped by the island and how, almost magically, each and every one of our needs seemed to have been anticipated – sometimes before we even knew we had a need of anything!
As with Huka Lodge there are all kinds of activities should you want something to keep you occupied such as sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, diving and island-hopping. Rob and I however, again needed little more than the caressingly warm super-soft white sands of the tropical beach, the cooling waters of our infinity pool, each other and the various treats and extras included in the Romance Package. Think champagne breakfasts, massages on our private beach and a picnic for two, each of which saw Rob gleefully ticking off my wishes like some macho fairy godmother.
Moveable Sun Loungers Offer Every Opportunity To Enjoy The Beach At Dolphin Island
My husband, with a ‘little’ help from Huka Lodge and Dolphin Island, had in fact made light work of my whole dream list.
But what about the ‘tropical banqueting while being regaled by exotic musicians’ bit? Well believe it or not I got to have that too – the farewell evening on Dolphin Island came complete with a traditional ‘lovo’ feast accompanied by Fijian musicians. A beaming Rob wearing a dreamy smile which seemed to have been almost permanently fixed for days suddenly appeared to me in that moment to be wearing armour of the most brilliantly shined kind. My hero!
Staff On Dolphin Island Display Friendly Fijian Hospitality
The boutique options offered by Huka Retreats apparently now includes another package alongside the ‘Romance’ themed one which Rob and I experienced – the ‘Family Package’. This aims to deliver all kinds of exciting and interestingly flavoured fun for the whole family based at one of the three – all idyllic but all different – Huka Retreat properties, (the other one is in South Africa). Among the many inclusions is a child entertaining/babysitting service which allows mum and dad to enjoy a romantic and undisturbed candlelit dinner.
Our round-the-world trip was jam-packed with the fantastic and the wonderful but our days and nights at Huka Lodge and Dolphin Island were, for both of us, the extreme highlight of our entire holiday.
Rob did indeed, thanks to Huka Retreats, manage to bring each and every single one of my anniversary dreams alive. However, this achievement along with the sophistication and exclusive setting of our 25th anniversary celebrations have raised a rather significant question……..what on earth do we do for our 40th?!
Fo more information please contact Jerry Bridge directly or click straight through to Huka Retreats – New Zealand – Fiji – South Africa.
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