Forbes Philippines|July 2016

The new Fiji resort Vatuvara reveals Oakley founder Jim Jannard’s vision for a secluded paradise.

When Jim Jannard, the billionaire founder of Oakley and RED Digital Camera, first stayed on Kaibu, an island in Fiji’s northern Lau Group, the owner was the American fiberglass mogul Jay Johnson, and his resort on the island, Kaimbu, was very simple. But Jannard was drawn to the setting a remote South Pacific island with varying shades of turquoise water as well as the privacy and the relaxed openness of the Fijian people.

So he had scouts keep an eye out for any nearby islands that came up for sale. Then, in late 2009, artist Hiro Yamagata listed Kaibu and neighboring Vatuvara, so Jannard bought both with the plan to build another, more luxurious resort. Named Vatuvara although technically situated on Kaibu Jannard’s dream property opened in mid-September.

Jannard could have just used the island as a private retreat, but like others who have rented their personal properties, he decided to open it to guests. The reason was simple: “He’s a businessman,” explains Rob Miller, Vatuvara’s general manager. “He wants to see a return, and he’s not sensitive about people renting his house.”

 

Since Jannard will also use the property, the island’s overhaul was very much to his specifications, particularly the design for the main villa, Delana, a thatched 5,220-square-foot behemoth constructed largely of Fijian timber and gray stone. “He would send drawings and was very involved in the concept,” explains Miller, who was previously the general manager of Wakaya Club & Spa (a private island resort owned by Fiji Water cofounder David Gilmour), where he met Jannard, a frequent guest, who then hired him away.

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