The ancient Fijians were on to something when they built their bures – traditional palm-roofed bungalows. Had they foreseen the coming of Fiji’s modern luxury resorts, modeled on their early villages, but tweaked for today’s visitors?
Not only more picturesque and spacious than hotel rooms, Fijian bures at resorts are typically spaced wide apart for privacy, with plenty of louvered windows to catch the ocean breezes.
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Modern take on Fijian bures
Take the Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, the first five-star hotel property to be built on Fiji. Its most popular room type is the traditional Fijian bure.
The Outrigger has 47 bures (including enormous two-bedroom family digs) scattered about its plantation gardens and along the beach, in addition to 207 hotel rooms.
Ceilings of these Fijian bungalows typically soar as high as 20 feet to ensure the construction remains cool. They’re decorated too.
Look up at the vaulted ceiling in an Outrigger bure, lined with tapa cloth (hand-made from local mulberry bark and painted with traditional Fijian designs) and you discover it’s both artistic and functional.
Ancient Fijian villages
Early villages in Fiji (a nation of 322 islands), were laid out according to rigid traditional rules. (You visit some on a Fijian cruise.)
In pre-Christian Fiji, the tallest bure served as the temple of ancestor worship.
The bure kalou at most of Fiji’s modern island resorts also takes on a communal use, but usually as a dining room, lounge and social centre.
The second-tallest bure was the chief’s home, built on an elevated platform in the centre of the village to honor his rank.
Family bures fanned out from here, their foundations built progressively lower to the ground as the outer limits of the village were reached – the less one’s status, the smaller, lower in height and further away one’s bure was.
Overwater bures in Fiji
But all good designs can be improved upon.
And so in a contemporary twist, Likuliku Lagoon Resort upped the bure’s wow factor by suspending ten of its Fijian bures over a colorful coral reef.
Lest you be concerned about any negative impact to the environment, take note – huge ecological studies were done first to ensure these Fijian bures could be safely built over the water.
These cocoons are uber-luxurious, boasting every modern comfort, including air conditioning, WiFi and flat screen TV’s.
The ancient Fijians would be proud.
Our magazine article
This post has been adapted from our travel article on “Fijian Bures,” first published in print in NUVO magazine.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.