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“Luxury in a Tent”

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Ratua Private Island
Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Luganville
Certificate of Excellence
Melbourne, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Luxury in a Tent”
Reviewed 16 July 2014

My wife and I spent two nights in the most decadent canvas surroundings you could imagine. The Safari tent at Ratua is the most private and wonderful space for a couple to stay. The water laps right up to the front of the veranda providing the most wonderful sound to sleep to.
My two children 17 and 13 stayed nearby in a 200 year old Indonesian fishing hut with their own private beach. The food was wonderful including a night crabbing where the kids caught their own dinner and helped the kitchen staff prepare it for their meal.
The snorkeling straight off the beach was terrific, but do wear reef shoes. Also the kids enjoyed riding the swimming horses from the ranch.
And the sunsets are fantastic!
I would not hesitate to recommend the resort for a relaxing few days.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sjw156
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 Sjw156,

Thank you for your review. I am happy that you enjoyed your stay in the safari tent and that your kids enjoyed their Indonesian Villa. I do remember you kids preparing their mud crabs, they were quite a chef!

Thank you for staying here with us. I hope that you will re-visit us again in the future.

Sincerely,

Bong Sarmiento
General Manager
Ratua Private Island
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (87)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2014

Got back from Vanuatu last week after 5 days on Ratua and 3 in Port Vila. When we were looking for a family holiday in the South Pacific, we were not sure whether we wanted to go to a main town where there would be more facilities for our children (7 & 9) or try somewhere remote.

We were recommended Ratua by some friends who have stayed a couple of times before, and we are very glad we took up their recommendation.

Despite some difficulties over the booking process, Bong and his team looked after us really well, fixing a couple of minor problems with our huts immediately. We were made to feel welcome and relaxed from the time we arrived.

The staff are really friendly, will do anything to make your stay comfortable, happy to share and demonstrate their kastom (culture) and help you understand a little more about the melting pot that is Vanuatu. Most speak at least 4 languages - English, French, Bislama (Vanuatu national language) and their own tribal tongue. We met Robin, who looks after the boats, and he speaks 13! Special mentions need to go to the perenially happy Claude and his jeep and the very accommodating Paul of Air Ratua.

Two things people looking at coming here to be aware of:

Firstly, the 200 year old Balinese huts are just that - so don't expect insect proof, air conditioned hotel rooms. That said, they are beautifully laid out, with luxury touches - think 'glamping'. We had no problems with mosquitoes, despite a mossie-magnet in our family. The staff do regular sprays with a non-toxic deterrent and also light mosquito coils in your room whilst you are at supper. There are also no dangerous animals in Ratua (no snakes etc., so the gaps in the doors don't matter).

Secondly, you will be sharing quite a lot of time with your fellow guests - there aren't that many of you, so you'll be on conversational terms quite quickly, as Ratua organise regular social evenings and you'll generally see each other at meal times and on the beach. We were there during school holidays and had no problems - all children were well behaved and generally not making too much noise. If you're looking for a romantic setting, suggest you avoid Southern Hemisphere holidays?

To sum up, we'd highly recommend Ratua - and Ratua Air, which makes perfect sense for a family to fly up from Port Vila (it's not much more than Air Vanuatu and the plane is decades newer).

Thanks for helping us to enjoy a proper South Pacific holiday. I'm afraid that Port Vila was a bit of a disappointment after Ratua and we are very glad we booked with them.

Room Tip: Fish village is closest to the dining area; South village is the furthest away and the West village...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank S M
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 SM,

Wow! Quite a long review. Thank you very much. Please send my gratitude to your friends who recommended Ratua Private Island. I am happy that you find your holidays worthy of remembrance.

Thank you for the kind acknowledgement of our efforts in making your stay interesting. Vanuatu kastom is indeed rich and the Ni-Vanuatu are always happy to share and display their traditions.

Thank you for flying with Air Ratua. I trust you enjoyed your scenic flight over dozens of islands in Vanuatu.

We hope that you will find time to re-visit us here in this magical island and perhaps bring some of your friends.

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
Melbourne, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 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
    • Rooms
    • 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 3 Contributor
19 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 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 2 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 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 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?
4 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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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 On the Beach Hotel in Luganville
#2 Romantic 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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