Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa, Easter Island
Exactly 36 Hours did my journey from Milan’s Piazza Repubblica to Hanga Roa on the remotest island in the world last. It took three planes (an Embraer jet, a Boeing 777 and another Dreamliner B787), 2 dinners, a few glasses of wine and a layover in Santiago until I set foot on the Easter Island - one of the world’s most extraordinary destinations. The only way to reach Easter Island is a flight from Santiago to Chile which by the way is a point-of-no-return flight, meaning once they reached a certain point the only airport to land is the final airport. By the way of writing, yes it’s not easy to get there and that’s the point where we reach the monetarily point. A return ticket from Santiago costs nearly 1.300 USD per person in economy. The smart and early ones can score a business class seat that’s just slightly more expensive than the economy rate and enjoy a five hour flight in an excellent LATAM seat (forget about the lounge life). Since we left Santiago in the morning at around 4 am, we were falling asleep without even having breakfast and ready to set sail for the long medium-haul flight. Having finally landed at Easter Island Airport (Interestingly they have one of the longest runways in the world, even a NASA spaceship could land here I was told), we were ready for a slow arrival process. First it took a time to buy the ticket for the National Park - necessary once you want to visit the main sites and have tours booked with the hotel. The luggage being finally dispatched, we were welcomed by the front desk manager who handed us over the typical Polynesian necklace out of flowers.
I am sure it’s been an hour after we landed until we were finally sitting in the hotel bus on the way to the Hangaroa resort. Just about 10 minutes later the bus stopped and we were greeted by the front desk staff and offered a welcome drink and refreshing towel. A kind lady arrived and asked us to fill out the check in paper. She came back and gave us instructions regarding our Full board programme and also showed us how we can book the tours. An external tour operator manages the tours departing from the hotel (at least the ones that can be booked free of charge with the different stay packages). The team was very nice and they made sure to book the tours that would give us the best insight of the island for our short stay of only three-nights. When we passed by the front desk, the lady informed us that the room would not be ready and we could have lunch meanwhile. So we walked to the restaurant and were impressed by the beautiful interior design that sometimes reminded me of an Aman resort: the tables with lots of privacy and very sleek but elegant decoration. Since our board was the full board we could choose any dish and there were no dishes at an extra cost which I always appreciate since it doesn’t give the feeling of being a second class guest. They also offer complimentary house wines with the menu and I have to say we were never disappointed - they were absolutely fine. While I went for the tuna ceviche followed by the beef fillet, Lukas decided to take a classic caesar salad and the catch of the day. I have to say that even for full board, the dishes were huge and I couldn’t even finish my starter totally otherwise I would have had to skip the main course. The selection of desserts was also very nice. I don’t know how regularly they change the menu however during our stay we had the same lunch menus every day except on our second day where they had a buffet.
Once we finally got to see our room, we realised how big this property is. Even tough they have just ground floor rooms, the hotel seemed to be huge with it not even 80 rooms and suites. We were located in the furthest building at the end in the front row, so we had unparalleled views of the Pacific as well as no noise from passing guests which was superb. In general I found the room to be very spacious and prefer the rooms at Hanga Roa over the Explora ones since the rooms at Hanga Roa have balconies and access to the garden plus a huge bath tub overlooking the sea as well. There was a separate toilet opposite the entree, a huge walk-in shower and a single vanity with hotel branded toiletries replaced twice a day as well as plenty of towels (also those were changed twice daily). Two comfy twin beds with sleek side tables and a cozy day bed with a writing desk next to it made up the bedroom. In general I found the room design to be very typical for Polynesia and couldn’t imagine the room to be anywhere else than the Easter Island, therefore 10/10 points for the room.
Before we could even enjoy the room, the phone rang and we were ordered to the lobby since our first tour was about to begin. Still dying of jet-lag, we made our way to the lobby to explore Hanga Roa’s mysterious Moai. While we were really lucky with our tour guide on day one, the guide on the two second days was below expectations even tough she managed to handle me and Lukas. I feel she would have all the information and she might be passionate but she has to improve her language skills in order to be more dedicating to International guests. Besides that, the tours were nicely set up with drinks and even snacks on the afternoon tours which I really appreciated. All drivers were driving in a safe and good pace so we could also take pictures while driving. I have to mention that even tough we weren’t lucky with the guide, the team managed to let us see all the major sights and points such as the Moai facing the ocean, the fallen Moai as well as the volcano craters plus the most wonderful beach for an afternoon of sunbathing. Caution since the UV light is a lot stronger than anywhere else in the world and sunburns happen very soon.
Once we came back to the property, we had a quick nap, then proceeded to the bar for a sunset cocktail. While we were sure the „complimentary sunset drink“ was meant to be consumed wherever you want, it actually is only free when you are going to the restaurant (so be aware of that). This is also the reason why it was so crowded at the restaurant whereas the bar was empty all the time. As far as the cocktails at the bar concerns, they were extremely good and definitely worth the money, however prepare to pay European prices. It wouldn‘t be my colleague Lukas if we wouldn‘t need to head to town by ourselves at least once - I mean he is so right as it is living the destination. So we did walk along a very long road leading to the center of Hanga Roa where we found a shop what seemed to be like the Louis Vuitton of the island. Of course we stopped and tried our way through this uber-cool Polynesian styled shirts (that were the same as in Hawaii and Tahiti) - well I don‘t need to mention that we left the shop with four brand new shirts from Easter Island - of course only to fit the attire of our accommodation ;).
When the time for dinner arrived, we switched into the new shirts and immediately looked like as we have never been somewhere else. Surprises are exactly what I love most when travelling - you never know what happens and what‘s better than do a bit of shopping and adapt the local‘s style? With lunch and breakfast being served in the casual restaurant, dinner is set up in the upscale restaurant on the corner of the property. The menu was handed over to us and after another (now really complimentary) drink, we were treated with the starter. I have to mention that the portions are really massive so ordering one main course plus a dessert will fill you already - we learned fast when we ordered one starter plus a main each and then couldn‘t even move anymore. From the second day onwards we only took one starter to share plus a main each which was a pretty good idea. Starters were always a light option including their excellent tuna ceviche and deep fried coconut shrimps. Mains include the beef fillet (highly recommended) or a catch of the day, which is also been amazing on each evening. All side dishes are Western influenced such as risotto, potatoes or grilled vegetables. Should there still be space for dessert (for whatever reason), you can be excited for a Creme brûlée, fresh fruit salad or warm chocolate cake.
On the day of departure, the hotel was all set and the transfers have been arranged without further notice (you have to let them know all flight details pre-arrival and again at check-in). Even tough we had some issues with the bill (more detailled with the cocktails) the front desk manager came and solved the problem within a few minutes so there was no problem anymore. Generally, she and the friendly General Manager were very kind and even hugged us when we left which can only be described as the warm Polynesian hospitality! It was a totally mind-changing trip which blow both our minds away. In the beginning we were thinking of skipping Easter Island for Tahiti but in the end it‘s been one of the most interesting places we have ever been! While I would not return that soon (due to the sky-high LATAM ticket prices), I highly recommend it to everyone who is considering the trip to the most remote island in the world! GO THERE!
Maybe it‘s important to mention that Hanga Roa Eco Village & Spa as well as the other luxury lodge on the island fill quick and therefore it is recommended to book ahead - especially but not only during the Hanga Roa festival!
We were exclusively hosted by Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa as well as Transoceanica Group who arranged our entire stay on Easter Island. However all abobe written expresses our honest opinion on the hotel experience based on our expertise.