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“Swimming with turtles and chilling with Cate Blanchett”

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Ratua Private Island
Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Luganville
Certificate of Excellence
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Swimming with turtles and chilling with Cate Blanchett”
Reviewed 11 July 2014

Ratua is an amazing place to visit; a private island filled with beautiful scenery and luxurious yet rustic accommodation. The staff, especially Bong and his wife Aileen, were friendly and helpful, and wanted us to have the best stay possible. We even managed to see Australian actress Cate Balnchett and her family who were doing a day visit to the island, which was very exciting.

We stayed at in the fish village in the old and rustic, but beautiful, huts.yetely decorated and equipped with effective mosquito nets. They were needed as there was no glass on the windows, however you can close the wooden screens, but even so we did not have any trouble with mosquitoes. The rooms are large and the bathroom features beautiful local shampoo, body lotion and beautiful smelling citronella lotion to help fight off insects. Off the fish village was an amazing lounge area equipped with a bar, dining table and chairs. Perfect place for pre dinner snacks and drinks or to watch the sunset, with a view over looking the ocean, with an atmosphere of luxury and relaxation. The fish village was not far from the yacht club (the eating area), however some of the huts in the other villages were little while away. For many this is great as it means more quit and remote time, yet for my elderly relatives it was occasionally hard for them to take the walk especially when the path was sometimes uneven and the lighting at night was not great. That said they did love their room, with its private balcony and beach access.

The food was normally great with the highlight being the lunch buffet, located on the beach. An assortment of meat or fish, pasta, salads as well as desserts were amazing a delicious, especially with the view surrounding you as you eat. The breakfasts were good with assortment of cereals, pastries toast and fresh juices. The dinners were also nice however the soups were sometimes to salty.

The island had good snorkels, paddle boards and kayaks available, which you can use to paddle out to a reef not far off the island and see the amazing coral and fishes. if you are lucky, in the morning and lat in the afternoon, you can swim or catch a glimpse of turtles and dugongs right of the shore. Horse riding and various other tours are available, as well as bikes to ride around the island.

Overall Ratua was beautiful and relaxing and totally worth staying. If I am to return to Vanuatu I would definitely consider rooming back to Ratua.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Juju2411
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 31 July 2014
Dear Juju2411,

Thank you very much for your long and detailed review. Thank you so kindly for acknowledging our efforts to make your stay enjoyable. I am glad that you find the antique houses charming and that you find our lunch and breakfast buffet appealing. . Your feedback is much appreciated and shall rectify accordingly.

It would truly be a pleasure to welcome you here again and perhaps next time we might have another celebrity in the island.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
Ratua Private Island
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307 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (85)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Melbourne
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 July 2014

We have just returned to Luganville from Ratua and miss the serenity and beauty all ready. In fact I seem to recall sadness and regret as the boat left the pier. As a family group of three generations we stayed three nights and loved it. From the young to the less young and agile our needs were met. The staff were amazing and friendly. Bong and his lovely wife work tirelessly to ensure we enjoyed our stay. For my brother and sister-in-laws 50th birthday celebration the staff went 'all-out' making us seafood platters and personalised chocolate cakes. We even had a local band helping us to sing 'happy birthday' to them. Very special.
But the star attraction has to be the huts, our wonderful lounge in the Fish village, the gardens and most amazing, the reef and pristine waters. Every day we snorkelled as a group right out in to the bay. I have snorkelled all around the world and thought it comparable to the best. My girls managed to swim with the turtles and a dugong swam by one evening.
We had no issues with mosquitoes and slept fine with just the windows open. Loved the organic soap, shampoo and insect repellant.
Goggles, snorkels, reef shoes and kayaks were all clean and in good order.
The price of the meal plans was expensive and as a family of four adults (since our 16 year old twins were not classed as children) I freaked out when I did the maths (over $1000Aud for three days). Having said this, the food was in the main fantastic; especially the salads, seafood and cakes. The only advice I have is for the chef to not put nearly so much salt in the soups.
To sum up - if you can afford this treat then do it. It's that special. Thanks Bong and team!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Allycabally
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 31 July 2014
Dear Allycabally,

Thank you very much for choosing to stay in Ratua Private Island for your special family gathering. Thank you for the kind acknowledgement of our efforts to make your stay memorable. I am truly happy that you find the concept of Ratua superb and worthy of praise. We will however rectify the excessive application of salt. Thank you very much for the feedback.

I certainly hope that you will come and re-visit us once more.


Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
Ratua Private Island
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nsw
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Ratua this is a hard one
Recently travelled to Ratua for 5 nights with family and friends in a large group. This was our 4th time to Vanuatu in different accommodation every time
On arrival I was shocked to find our accommodation in the fish village was slab timber huts, when they said 200 years old they meant 200 year old inside and out stupid me, our house was hot, dark, smelly and floors were rotten in the shower that’s right wooden floors in shower so dark you couldn’t see anything inside even in the middle of the day. If you are from Australia the closest thing to this would be the old timber sheds you see in paddocks across the farms, I can only blame myself for this as I did not research the place better.
Our group was booked on one side of the resort and the rest far away on the other side, I can’t understand why they did that as we were travelling as a group this to me was bad management, our other group had crocodile, cobra, buffalo their houses were a lot brighter and had a better outlook.
My daughter arriving straight from Bali commented how much she would have paid for this type of accommodation there about $40 per night not $480 per night. Value for money definitely not.
The positives were that the island itself was beautiful and had lots to do, the tour with Claude and the riding with the horses was amazing, the spa was also very good, the staff as for most resorts in Vanuatu are their greatest asset they are friendly and welcoming and nothing is too much trouble for them, Sandie, Maryanne and Joanna need special mention.
Ratua has a philosophy which we saw first hand when on the first part our holiday in Santo we passed a school where all the children were lined up out the front we asked out driver to stop to see what was going on, to our surprise the owners and workers from Ratua were there giving out backpacks and bags of marbles these simplest of things brought so much joy to these children’s faces it was great to see that their giving back to the community policy really does happen, this was one of the reasons why I booked here.
The food was ok needed to but cooked properly as most times I sent it back to be cooked more . this could have led to most of us with tummy upsets
Ratua just need to be aware that they are also providing a service to their guests as well.
I’m sure that a lot of people would love the rustic accommodation as per the reviews but this was not for me.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank seashellsNsw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 31 July 2014
Dear SeashellsNsw,

Thank you for taking time in making a review. Ratua is a unique destination which is quite difficult to compare with other resorts, hotels or private islands for that matter. Because of this distinct concept, it may not suit to everyone. It saddens me that you were not able to appreciate what most of our guests consider as a "privilege" to stay in bicentennial houses. But of course not everyone shares the same outlook and I appreciate that you acknowledge this was not your style.

As for the assignment of your entire party, I wish there was another way to group you altogether. As you have already seen, the family two-bedroom villas are located only at the fish village and all single bedroom villas at the West and South Villages. On high season, especially when school holidays, bookings come as early as six to nine months. When we received you booking we were already 60% full and we somehow managed to place most of your party in West Village except for your accommodation which is at the fish village, roughly 3-5 minute walk apart. I believe I mentioned this villa assignment upon confirmation of your booking.

I am glad that you find Ratua Private Island to your liking and that our staffs have been most welcoming. It is always our pleasure to make your stay worthwhile.

I also would like to thank you for acknowledging the efforts of Ratua Foundation in aiding in the literacy of the primary school children in Vanuatu. Your stay here in Ratua have made a significant contribution to this noble endeavor. On behalf of the owners and staff of Ratua, I extend my sincere gratitude for your visit.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
Ratua Private Island
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 June 2014 via mobile

We recently stayed 5 nights at Ratua as part of our 10 night holiday to Vanuatu. Ratua is not for everyone and for this reason I would recommend that guests seriously think about what they are looking for in a holiday - for me I like to feel comfortable with modern and clean rooms - Ratua does not offer this as you basically stay in a wooden hut with holes in the walls.... The natural beauty of Ratua is very impressive and the staff are great. However, the rooms and other 'infrastructure' of the resort leave a lot to be desired (especially for the 5 star price tag charged to guests). I do understand that Ratua is trying to go for a different theme - but it wasn't for me and it wouldn't suit a lot of other people. In terms of value for money, the owners of Ratua need to consider putting money back into the resort to modernise the rooms and facilities - also maintaining the boats so they don't break down would be recommended.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Squeenan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 30 June 2014
Dear Squeenan,

Thank you very much for staying with us and thank you also for your review. Yes, Ratua's philosophy is different from all the starred resorts that are vastly available anywhere. Because of this unique concept, it is difficult to compare Ratua by the industry's traditional star rating.

I do appreciate your feedback and recommendations, all these are taken constructively.

Machines sometimes break down and for this unpleasant experience, my sincere apologies. For what its worth, rectification was made instantly to avoid repetition.

Perhaps in the future when you find the inclination to Ratua's concept, it would be our great pleasure to welcome you once more.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
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Washington DC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 June 2014

The good:

The lagoon is gorgeous and peaceful (in terms of boat traffic -- not so in terms of children).
The Balinese houses are stunning.
The local staff are lovely and charming.

The bad:

The Balinese houses are stifling: With solid shutters and feeble ceiling fans, the houses were almost unbearable to sleep in. Style over comfort.

The food is mediocre: Breakfast and lunch are fly-studded buffets. The baked goods at breakfast were nice, but the other offerings were greasy omelettes and breakfast meats - yuck. The snack menu reads like a bad children's menu at a restaurant in a suburban U.S. shopping mall: chicken nuggets, pizza, marinara pasta. The organic garden is a nice concept, except when it's only producing carrots. Carrot soup. Roasted carrots. Carrot salad with everything. The creme brûlée was a watery mess that tasted even more like paste because the chef also forgot the sugar.

Instant coffee!!!: The resort offers only instant coffee as part of breakfast. To get the "real" thing, you must pay extra, and yet it's still weak. Disgraceful.

The bratty children: During my visit, the resort was teeming with Australian and French children -- four or five to a family, many of them spectacularly ill-behaved. (There were some charming exceptions from the Gold Coast.). The parents of the ill-behaved ones had seemed to have given up, pickling themselves with drink while the children ran wild. Screaming children out on the lagoon were the worst, given how sound travels over water. This resort is not a romantic retreat, but a children's water park.

The flies: They're crawling all over the buffet food and swarming the guests and their plates at the table.

The verdict: Beautiful, with so much potential, but ruined by the execution and some of the other guests.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank globetrottingguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 25 June 2014
Dear Globetrottingguy,

Thank you very much for your review, very much appreciated.

I am glad that you find the island gorgeous and peaceful and that the houses are stunning coupled with the lovely and charming staff.

Your feedback about the food is well received. Thank you for pointing out the items that need improvement. I have discussed with my team the points that needs to be addressed. The flies however have been an issue for quite some time and we tried all sorts of remedy from organic herbs, oils, round glasses with water, fly repellent sprays, even industrial fans but sadly all those did not work. Very recently, with the help of one of our returnee guests, we have this new fly "shoo away" gadget that somehow is quite effective. We have already placed an order for this gadget to ward off flies. Hopefully we will have it very soon. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience while you were here and I can only wish we have known of this gadget long ago.

The garden since then has been lush and the kitchen harvests regularly from it. Local produce from our garden is not enough to feed guests and staff which is why we buy from nearby islands. As we depend on the availability of fresh produce, sometimes menu is limited. However we acknowledge your feedback on the repetition of menu. Our Ni-Vanuatu cooks are up to the challenge of creating exciting dishes.

My sincere apologies for the coffee. I am not sure why you were charged for the Tanna coffee as it is free of charge from 7-10am. Again, thank you for this feedback, I shall rectify this matter immediately.

Having said all these, I am hopeful that you will consider re-visiting Ratua in the near future. I would recommend when its not school holidays as the island would be truly quite and peaceful. Perhaps you might consider coming between May to October as it is cooler this time of year.

Looking forward to welcoming you back.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
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Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 June 2014

A big thank you to Mr Bong and his amazing team for a great 5 days at Ratua. Having never been to Vanuatu before, I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say, the resort and everything in it was excellent and I would recommend it to anyone. During our stay, the resort trialled a new tour to a neighbouring island. They offered to fly us in their private place for free as the tour was new. We were very grateful for the opportunity. The diving and snorkelling was great too. I've already booked to return.

Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank William D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 25 June 2014
Dear Mr. William D,

Thank you for a nice review. I am truly happy that you enjoyed your Vanuatu experience and made you book for a return visit in this little island paradise. I am glad that you enjoyed our tiral tour. Perhaps on your nearing visit, you will discover some of the other islands via Air Ratua.

Looking forward to welcoming you back. Cheers!

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
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Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 June 2014

Ratua is all about understatement - when we booked to stay here it was a dilemma when we looked at the costs, and tried to tell from the website what exactly it was going to be like staying on this island paradise. What we received from the moment we stepped onto the wharf at Luganville was nothing short of exceptional.

The 30 minute boat ride to Ratua is exhilarating, seeing the main islands from this perspective is awesome - EVERY one of the boat drivers are friendly, fun, and generous with information. We were met at the wharf by Bong, your manager who will do anything to ensure your stay is exactly as you wish (Bong is one of the many highlights of the island, and is one of the friendliest people you could ever meet).

A spontaneous drive tour around the island by Claude (on a replica WW2 jeep) - gives you an appreciation for how much bigger the island is than the website leads you to believe and how much the owner appreciates sustainability with large coconut plantations. The island is rustic paradise, surrounded by stunning snorkelling.

Our room/house was breathtaking. We stayed in Crocodile and it was a nice distance away from the main areas to have our own private beach, and still not be too far to walk to lunch and dinner. The Indonesian houses are unique and beautiful in design and function - it makes you realise how little you actually need in your own home - but don't be deceived because there are touches of luxury all through the house. Every night while you're at dinner, staff turn down your bed, and place the mosquito net over it with elegant precision. It is so polished and caring - we recommend just going to stay in the traditional houses alone makes the stay worth it.

BUT then there's the food! We umm'd and argh'd about whether to take the meal plan or not - at around $80AUD a day per person it seemed expensive. In the end we did go with it and again it was an absolute highlight. The food (prepared by Momma) is of the highest quality you could imagine - the beef was better than we've ever had (and coming from New Zealand we've had some nice cuts), the seafood stunning. We must admit the buffet (lunch and the occasional dinner) was great, but the planned dinners (2 options for entree, main, and dessert) were 5-star luxury that have to be seen (and tasted) to be believed. My favourite was a beef red wine dish and I loved the lemon meringue pie. We stayed 7 days and never had the same meal twice - and sitting under the stars next to the beach was the most idyllic setting ever. The meal plan is worth it and much more! Dinner to a nice restaurant in Melbourne would cost more than what you would pay for the entire day of outstanding food prepared to such a high quality.

During the days it's up to you how little or a lot you do - there's no pressure. I thoroughly recommend swimming with horses as a once in a lifetime experience. The stable lads are knowledgeable and kind and really take care of the beautiful horses. We did a trip canoeing to the Blue Hole one afternoon - this is a very good trip for couples - almost therapy as you combine forces to control a canoe! the Blue Hole is STUNNING, and diving off the tree branches is exhilarating (with the assistance of your guide).

My wife spent a lot of time at the Spa - she'll probably do a full review of that.

My two favourite (and free) options were snorkelling the amazing reefs around the island - great clarity in the water and hundreds of turtles around, or taking a paddle board out to explore and enjoy the serenity around sunset - only broken occasionally by a turtle popping up to get breath before ambling past you.

I could spend all day writing about Ratua - but you should really just visit it yourself and be completely blown away. The staff are another level in friendly, hospitable, kind, generous, and helpful - all constantly smiling! I wish I could have written all their names down because they are the real stars of the island.

Room Tip: Makes sure around 5pm - that you have anything you need from your room. They fumigate for mosquitos...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Durban61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bong S, General Manager at Ratua Private Island, responded to this review, 25 June 2014
Dear Durban61,

Thank you very much for the very kind, very nice, very detailed, and very long review. The staff enjoyed listening as I read it to them.

Thank you for the special mention. Feel like a star and I appreciate it very much. I would not have earned your commendation if not for the full cooperation of the entire staff. They are my stars.

The boat ride can be very entertaining... a moving portrait. The boat pilots appreciates the special mention along with Claude.

I am glad that you find the house to your liking and worthwhile... a privilege to experience living in a bicentennial house.

Your comment about our food and meal plan is truly overwhelming along with the activities that you had here in Ratua.

No amount of words can express our sincere gratitude for your review. We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you back in this magical island.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
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Additional Information about Ratua Private Island

Property: Ratua Private Island
Address: BP 396, Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Region: Vanuatu > Espiritu Santo > Luganville
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Luganville
#2 Romantic Hotel in Luganville
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Luganville
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Ratua Private Island 5*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ratua Island is a wild, magical place with authentic people who offer a simple and warm reception in a naturally beautiful environment. There are 13 individual 200-year-old Indonesian villas that have been specially reconstructed on sites offering stunning views with a private deck or beach. Located in the Vanuatu Archipelago, off the South East tip of Espiritu Santo, Ratua is only a 30-minute motorboat journey from the mainland on our own private motor launch. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ratua Private Island Hotel Luganville
Ratua Private Island Vanuatu/Luganville

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