Seventh Heaven: The floating Kiwi-made utopia taking Fiji by storm

Fiji paradise: A bird's eye view of Seventh Heaven.
A bird's eye view of Seventh Heaven. Photo credit: supplied/Seventh Heaven

When thinking of a holiday in Fiji, everybody has their own idyllic vision of what form that getaway may take.

Perhaps you're bringing the kids and picturing days around the pool at a child-friendly resort like Radisson Blu, where the gamut of staff on hand can subsidise the parenting workload, and by night allow you to indulge in the fine beachside dining on offer.

Or maybe it's just you and a loved one planning a romantic getaway to celebrate a freshly tied knot.

Whichever category you might fall into - it's almost guaranteed you've also envisioned some version of a postcard-perfect retreat in the middle of the Pacific - where there's nothing but aqua blue as far as the eye can see and reality has never been further away.

It just so happens that one such place is Seventh Heaven, a Kiwi owned and operated slice of paradise that encapsulates all of the above, with the added bonus of superb food and a cocktail list longer than your sulu.

Funnily enough, the concept for the large floating platform was inspired by the kind of adventure you'd read about in a pick-your-own-path novel as a kid - that idea of pure escapism.

"Everyone has this dream as a child or teenager where you escape on a little raft with a couple of your friends down the river, and I think it expanded from that," explained owner Eddy Rotteveel.

People enjoying a drink on Seventh Heaven in Fiji.
Photo credit: supplied/Seventh Heaven

As soon as you jump on board the boat to depart from Port Denarau to get to the platform, you get the sense there are fun times ahead.

The effervescent Rotteveel was onboard that day, needling his crew with some light-hearted ribbing and pats on the back. The air was rife with excitement, anticipation and an absurd amount of heat for 9:30am.

When the platform came into sight 45 minutes later and I started to catch those trademark dulcet Fijian tones as the staff belted out their welcoming song, it quickly became clear that - to paraphrase Ice Cube - today was going to be a good day.

Located in the Mamanuca Islands, Seventh Heaven is a two-tiered floating utopia littered with loungers, a full bar and restaurant-quality kitchen at its centre, surrounded by the kind of rich blue water that looks so dreamy you'd swear it's been photoshopped.

As soon as I stepped off the boat I was greeted by smiles, a welcome drink and some classic Bob Marley at just the right volume. When I located my lounger, I quickly got a mandatory arrival dip under my belt and headed straight for the drinks menu. It's a formula as old as time.

A fresh coconut cocktail in one hand and a platter of fresh fruit in the other, it was an Instagram influencer's dream. 

Of course, there's a litany of beach club style resorts scattered across Fiji. But what differentiates Seventh Heaven from the rest is its attention to detail, most notably with the cuisine.

A sample of upper-deck views of Seventh Heaven in Fiji.
A sample of upper-deck views. Photo credit: supplied/Seventh Heaven

Fresh produce and ingredients are shipped daily from the mainland allowing patrons a more varied and refined selection that goes beyond the standard pizza-based menus you'd likely be limited to elsewhere. 

There's sizzling 'Fiji-tas', a local take on the Mexican favourite, or the catch of the day marinated in coconut cream. There's something very special about being able to devour a delicious dumpling then immediately leap from your chair into the silky ocean at your side.

To clarify, if you're after a full day of vocal house music and gyrating, this probably isn't the club for you as Seventh Heaven is more about relaxation than raving. Although they offer a more party-centric experience on certain days of the week, the modus operandi here is very much centered around chill - right down to the exceptional frozen cocktails.

Popping upstairs to the massage 'bure' for a rubdown offered an unrivaled view. You can also don a mask and snorkel to take in the spectacular array of sea life in the surrounding coral reef, or maybe even a light paddle on the kayak.

Shortly, guests seeking that extra level of luxury will be able to book an overnight experience, where a private chef and barman will be on hand to cater for a night that will no doubt have the romance richter scale redlining.

Not a bad effort for the owner of an air conditioning business and his best mate who concocted the concept in the time-honoured tradition of many entrepreneurial Kiwis - after a bevy of beers.

The original idea was simply to create a place for friends and family who - like themselves - travel regularly to Fiji. But ambition took hold and Seventh Heaven was soon born.

Fiji holiday inspo: Seventh Heaven, the Kiwi-owned floating platform paradise.
Photo credit: supplied/Seventh Heaven

And by soon I mean following a lengthy hiatus forced by COVID-19. After almost four years of hard work, the build was an excruciating "95 percent" complete, when the pandemic struck. 

But that's all a distant memory now. Popularity has risen rapidly and it's clear why as Rotteveel's trio of founding tourism principles - "great food, great location, great experience" - have come to fruition.

There was a real cross-section of clientele getting among the fun on the day I was there, from an older German contingent to some enthusiastic Aussie 20-somethings and a Kiwi couple from Christchurch who were taking advantage of their recently emptied nest back home. A makeshift gathering started on a nearby sandbar and the ever-accommodating staff went that all-important extra mile to ferry bottles of champagne over to the punters. 

There's a genuine family vibe to this venture that Rotteveel has curated. The majority of his team have been with him since the very beginning and you only need to spend a few hours with the amicable Dutch-born Aucklander to realise why they're so loyal.

Some of the friendly staff at Seventh Heaven, Fiji.
Photo credit: supplied/Seventh Heaven

The 'Leap of Faith' - a raised diving platform that juts out from the upper deck - proved a huge hit. Pull off a crowd-pleasing leap and you might earn a complimentary shot of liquor, although you'll be hard pressed to outshine host Pete's patented swan dive.

It's just one of the many details that were part of the concept models Rotteveel created prior to Seventh Heaven construction, which he insists have been faithfully realised.

As you'd expect, starting a business in Fiji brought some unique challenges, including working with local government and chiefs from regional tribes, but nothing that presented any significant roadblock.

And they've been adamant about ensuring they give back to the locals who have been so hospitable, making monthly trips to the nearby village of Solevu to help with upgrading  buildings and general maintenance.

They're also conscious of minimising their eco footprint on the area. Completely solar powered, the business is committed to a scheme of regrowing coral, planting almost 10,000 new seeds over the past 24 months.

None of these initiatives are government-mandated, instead merely gestures of goodwill from two Kiwis who intend on being a mainstay in the area for a long time yet.

"If you're going to start a business in another country, the least you can do is support the local community," Rotteveel notes.

When it came time to depart Seventh Heaven, seldom have I felt so deeply wounded to see 3pm. My six-hour window there flew by in a haze of Long Fijian Island Ice Teas, great conversation and new fleeting friendships formed.

As we boarded the ship to a slew of hugs from the staff (because our relationship is already at that level) - margarita roadies in hand - I remember Rotteveel's mission statement: "You escape on a little raft with a chilly bin, and you pick up your mates and sit in the middle of the ocean."

So simple, yet so damn good.

Newshub travelled to Fiji courtesy of Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airways.