We chose Dave Parker's Eco Lodge via the Samoan Hotel Association website for 4 main reasons; (1) Setting - Up in the hills above the rainforest (2) location - 15 minutes drive from Apia (3) Cost - One of the cheapest places just out of Apia (4) Good reviews on the TripAdvisor site.
It definitely fit the bill for setting. The view from Dave Parker's Eco Lodge is nothing short of breathtaking as most reviews will tell you. If wildlife is your thing and you're not phased by the other points in this review then this might be well worth it. For us, it really wasn't enough to keep us there.
As for location, while 15 minutes drive from Apia township doesn't sound like a long way, by Samoan standards (as every taxi driver moaned to us) it's a long way from Apia. It was still only a SAT$30 ride each way but it adds up if you've just chosen Dave Parker's as a base to explore the island as we did. This was definitely a big factor for us to decide to only stay only 1 of the 3 nights we'd originally booked.
Factoring the cost is a hard one just due to how things work in Samoa. What we learned during our stay was that we shouldn't have expected to get the same value for money as we did back home (in New Zealand). For the same money, what you get in Samoa is well under par compared to what we'd get at home. If we'd known this at the time we'd never have booked a double room anywhere in Samoa for SAT$95 a night. Even the places we stayed at for SAT$185 and SAT$255 were only verging on adequate.….but you live and learn don't you. For anyone that's planning on going to Samoa I suggest that you look at spending a bit more than you would for an average accomodation anywhere else in the world if good service and cleanliness is important to you.
With the last point about the reviews this place has gotten, I'm going to work on the assumption that perhaps we got them on a bad day so perhaps read my comments in that context.
Locating someone that works there - More than a few times we needed some assistance with various things and the place was deserted. This was worrying for 2 reasons; What would have happened in a medical emergency? If someone of questionable character was to just wander into the hotel they could have helped themselves to anything they liked. On the other hand, when you do find someone they are very helpful and lovely people but finding someone in the first place can be tricky.
Cleanliness - Bird crap on the dining room table cloths (inside and outside), squashed bugs in the showers, half used bars of soap on the handbasin, an old soiled mattress out on the deck, the list goes on but those were some of the highlights. Basically our lodge room was tidy but definitely not clean. Slept "on" rather than "in" the bed as I didn't even want to know what the state of the sheets were going to be like.
Catering - What we were served for lunch looked (and tasted) like luke warm leftovers from a cheap BBQ. I was sick for 2 days afterwards and at SAT$25 a plate it was hardly value for money. We weren't even given a menu. Earlier in our trip in a small village in Savai'i we were getting good portions of fresh fish, salad and rice for less than SAT$20. Why is it that a place on what is essentially mainland Western Samoa where things are more readily available can charge more for less in terms of both quantity and quality? We ended up having dinner at Aggie Greys and breakfast at another hotel after checking out of Dave Parker's.
Recreation - The listing on the Samoan Hotels site advised us that there were caves, bushwalks, hiking and trekking opportunities which was another reason we were interested in staying here. Those particular activies were news to the girl working there. Basically there is very little onsite to do unless all you want to do is look at fruit bats and swim in a river. If you can't afford the SAT$30 taxi into town everyday or to hire a car, you're stuck there.
It's really unfortunate that I've had to give such a bad review as Dave and his wife were two of the nicest people we met during our time in Samoa. Our one night at Dave Parker's was definitely a low point in our trip but as I said earlier, for around SAT$98 we probably shouldn't have expected much. We gladly paid the full 3 nights for our one nights stay to get out of this place. The setting alone gives the place so much potential to be a lot better than it is and we were sadly let down by a perceived lack of the basics.
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- Also Known As:
- Dave Parker Eco Lodge Samoa/Apia