Turtle Island back to normal after riding publicity wave

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NEW YORK -- In late 2003, couples in televised weddings on NBCs Today show and ABCs The Bachelorette honeymooned on Fijis Turtle Island.

That produced loads of publicity and a dream run with the property fully occupied in 2004, said Andrew Fairley, director of Turtle Island.

But that cant be repeated, Fairley said. Even though Britney Spears honeymooned on the private island last October, things have settled into more normal patterns. Occupancy is running 60% to 70%.

The facility has 14 two-room bures, or cottages, constructed by local craftsmen in traditional Fijian style.

Relaxing in a hammock at Fijis Turtle Island.The 500-acre Turtle Island was the setting for both Blue Lagoon movies. The bures were constructed for the movie productions.

About 60% of bookings come from the U.S., and about half of those are booked by retailers, Fairley said. He plans to work more closely with Small Luxury Hotels, of which Turtle Island is a member, and participate in more visits to agents on the U.S. coasts. The five-star property is a Virtuoso partner.

Clearly, for agents who can sell this ultimate in inclusive properties, the reward is good. The rate for 13 of the bures is $1,975 per day, per couple. One of the bures, deemed the penthouse equivalent, is $2,390 daily. The 30-minute transfer by seaplane from Nadi Airport is $790 per couple, roundtrip.

The minimum stay is six nights, and the average is 7.2, Fairley said. So, multiplying the daily rate by 7.2, times 10%, comes to a good days work, he said.

More good news for agents selling Turtle Island: The facility has a 32% return rate, very high for this kind of location, Fairley said.

The price tag covers food and drink, sunset cruises and a range of water sports, such as deep-sea fishing, fly-fishing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and windsurfing.

Land activities such as horseback riding and mountain biking are also included. Massages are extra.

Meanwhile, even the tres upscale Turtle Island offers promotions: This year it offers one free ticket in coach from Los Angeles for couples booking seven nights; two coach tickets for those booking nine nights; and an upgrade to business class for two, for $4,690, for those booking seven nights.

These apply to bookings in the 13 grand bures. Holiday blackouts apply. Call (877) 2TURTLE.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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