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“Unbelievable Scuba Diving Holiday in a Dream Location”
Review of Aore Island Resort

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Aore Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Aore Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 3 September 2009

Wanting to scuba dive on the President Coolidge, we decided to go to Santo, Vanuatu and stay at the Aore Island Resort. When we arrived we went to the dive shop located at the Resort 'Santo Island Dive' and spoke to the owner, Mal, regarding a dive package. The next day we were off diving, and loved it so much that we actually extended our dive package and dived virtually every day of our stay. Our Dive Master Alfred, was awesome. Being a local, he knows heaps of knowledge about the area, and could swim the whole of the President Coolidge with his eyes closed. His dive experience, local knowledge, and friendly personally & sense of humour can't be beaten. We also dived with Donald who was also fantastic, and on the day we couldn't dive, spent the afternoon fishing with Alfred & Matthew. We loved spending time with all the guys from Santa Island Dive and they all made our holiday extremely memorable and miss all of them.
The resort was fantastic. Its located on the Island Aore, just across from town, and the resort runs a ferry that takes you back and forth during the day. The rooms are individual bungalows that have everything you need (no phones, no tvs...heaven!) The staff at the resort are fantastic and always greet you by your first name. Make sure when you go that you get the food package. With the food package you get a large continental breakfast and then you also get lunch & dinner as well. Its an all day menu so you can have lunch when it suits you (or take a picnic hamper with you) and you can choose anything off the menu, including Lobster for dinner.
We had the best 10 day holiday thanks to all the fantastic people and beautiful location....we will definately be back soon.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Deb-Pete-Sydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 August 2009

We had a wonderful stay here, all the staff including Manson, Annie and Michelle were very friendly and nothing was too much hassle. We got a HUGE garden view room which was great. Had a little fridge to chill our water, the huge deck was also a bonus and I spend many an hour on there reading my book looking out onto the resorts beautiful gardens and ocean.
Dived with Santo Island Diving and Fishing which was awesome, Henry, Alfred and Don were great dive masters. My husband said diving the Coolidge wreck was amazing, and the reef dives I did were great.
Ann and Jodi the owners were very accomodating and made sure we had a great stay. Snorkelling is also great from the beach on the left of the jetty.
The food was spectacular - in particular the Santo Beef and Lobster, we got the meal plan which was great value, it meant we could order anything on the menu, one course for lunch and two courses for dinner - $55 AUD we recommend you get this before you go.
There is a regular ferry accross to the main island of Santo so we never felt 'trapped' there. There is a supermarket 5mins walk away from the main jetty on Santo where you can buy snacks etc.
Recommend the Plantation walk, and taking the free bikes for a spin!
We also did the highlights tour of Santo which was brilliant, took all day and we saw so many of the wonderful attractions around Santo including spectacular blue holes, champagne beach and million dollar point.
The photos of Aore Resort do not do it justice! The swimming pool is not the best but we were there to swim in the ocean! and they are upgrading it soon.
We would love to come back here, and we miss it already as we had such a great time there.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank TeamCannelloni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2009

We loved Aore - good accommodation, great food, lovely hosts and staff, amazingly beautiful location and on-site access to fantastic diving, fishing and snorkeling trips. Lots of superlatives I know but it really was that good!

Here’s the detail.

Location/getting around/management

We flew into Santo and were met at the airport by the customary ‘man with the sign’. Luggage loaded it was a 10 minute drive to the jetty and a 15min boat trip over calm blue seas to Aore. The resort is located across from Luganville on a large island, it has a beautiful beach and well tendered grounds. There is a free boat service that runs back and forth several times a day.

We were met by the wonderful Anne – one of the owners. She gave us a great orientation and was a delight to deal with throughout our stay. Jodie (who tag teamed to manage things when she wasn’t there) was also excellent. Advice what to do and how to do it, through to sorting out our constantly changing domestic flight – nothing was too much trouble.

Accommodation

We stayed in family bure right on the beach with a living room (where the kids slept); bedroom and bathroom. Spacious, beautiful polished floors, fully screened, good storage, comfortable beds and a deck to die for! It was my favorite place to while away an afternoon on the sun lounge with a cocktail and a good book soaking up the view across the water to the mainland. I guess maybe 4 star but it was quiet and peaceful, scrupulously clean (always serviced by housekeeping by mid morning) and everything worked including long hot showers at the end of a diving or snorkeling expedition.

Food

A decent quality continental breakfast was included – fruit, muffins, toast, cereal, tea and coffee - options off the hot menu at an additional cost. But…it was lunch and dinner where Aore really came into its own - excellent food – fresh fish, the famed Santo beef, other expertly prepared seafood options etc etc and a good kids menu. There’s a standard menu and a chalkboard with multiple wonderful dishes that change every meal. The prices were mid to high end restaurant but cheaper than similar or lesser std fare in Vila (and Australia for that matter). I really can’t say enough good things about the food except to end by mentioning the Melanesian feast on a Thursday night which was fantastic.

Activities at/from the resort – diving, snorkeling, fishing etc

There is good snorkeling in front of the resort and the kids loved feeding the fish that swim around the jetty.

A key factor in our decision to stay at Aore was the on-site dive/fishing/snorkeling facility and it didn’t disappoint! Santo Dive and Fishing run this operation and I can’t speak highly enough of our experience with them. Our first full day I asked Anne about a snorkeling trip – within the hour, we were on a boat (just our family) with two wonderful Vanuatu drivers/guides. First stop – pristine coral reef; second stop Million Dollar Point (where the Americans dumped their post WWII vehicles) for lunch and more fascinating snorkeling; third stop even better coral reef! It was a truly magical day - made extra special by the way the ‘boat guys’ interacted with our kids and the fun we all had! Next afternoon, combined snorkeling and fishing trip – 4 huge Trevally in 2 hours (we ate the best fish that night for dinner) and then another wonderful reef to dive, finished with a visit from a Manta Ray on the way home! Finally on our last day (we arranged babysitting) and did two dives on the Coolidge. Wow – this ship really lived up to its reputation as an amazing dive site – easy as well, no current and good vis. Diving with Santo through Aore we were spoilt with gear all prepared for us; a boat entry (the other operators go off the shore) and a small group.

The resort had mountain bikes you can use to explore the island – none for kids though (my only minor criticism the whole time we were there).

There is also kastom dancing in conjunction with the Melanesian feast and this was one of the best, highest quality performances I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve seen a few of these throughout the pacific. The resort owners really got into the spirit of the dancing as did the guests and it was just a great night!

Other Activities

We did the tour through Aore to the Blue Hole. There are two blue holes near Luganville and our tour visited the smaller which was actually two holes combined, accessible by canoe. We were lucky to be the only ones there and really enjoyed both the trip and the snorkel in the pristine clear water once we got there.

We organized a day tour to Port Olrey, Lonnoc Beach and Champagne Beach independently of the resort that I found on the internet. The resort’s day tour was more expensive but covered a lot more than we saw and I might be swung to that option had I had my time again. Champagne Beach is just spectacular – white sand, deep blue water and decent snorkeling. Lonnoc is nearby and has a basic restaurant good for lunch but be warned – we arrived with 14 people and they really struggled to cater for all of us. There was another group there prior and we learnt that after we left (it took a really long time to get our meals) they had run out of food! I wouldn’t visit Port Olrey again – it’s a nice beach but I liked Champagne better.

Aore Staff

There was just a really nice feel to the resort when we were there. I guess we were lucky with the other guests – everyone was just really laid back and relaxed. The wait staff remembered our names from the first day and were friendly and lovely with our kids. The same can be said for Santo in general. It was our favorite place in Vanuatu and I am already planning to go back next year!

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank JodieTravel01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 March 2009

My husband and I have just returned from Aore Resort and could have not asked for more. I had spoken with Jodie before leaving for our vacation and found her to be polite, friendly and very professional. On arrival, after a very long day, we arrived in the rain to find Jodie on the wharf to meet both my husband and myself. We were greeted and booked in very quickly and settled into 8 nights of rest and relaxation and found our requests in earlier conversations to Jodie had been taken care of. It was comforting to know they had actually been listening to us. Our Oceanfront Bungalow was clean and well equipped with plenty of spare pillows, towels, tea/coffee making facilities and plenty of supplies and we were even provided with Mortein. We could swim and snorkel outside our bungalow and spent most evenings watching the sun go down from our balcony. You could feed the fish which were constantly swimming around the wharf. We had purchased a Meal Plan prior to leaving and found the food to be beyond our expectations. The Menu was spectacular with new menus daily and we found the hardest thing was deciding what to eat as it was all first class all the way. The Bar and Restaurant Staff were polite and attentive and very much on the ball and we grew to love them all. We were waited on hand and foot for the whole stay. We had some rain which was to be expected but this did not deter either my husband or myself and we swam in the ocean regardless of the weather as the water was always very comfortable. My husband did a Plantation Walk his guide was Michel who explained everything along the walk and my husband stated that he never stopped eating the whole walk and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In fact we enjoyed the 8 nights immensely and cannot wait to do it again, which we will. The management, Jodie, Ann and Gary were gracious hosts and attended to all our needs. You only had to request something and they took care of it. They made us feel like friends and never like the people in Bungalow 2. We cannot thank them enough for what they did for us and making our vacation as splendid as it was. If you want a vacation with the opportunity to do as little or as much as you want this resort is the place to do it. If you want a resort were people really care then this is the resort for you. We went for rest and relaxation and this is what what got and with five star trimmings all the way. We simply cannot fault this beautiful little resort and got far more than we bargained for because not only did we get a superb vacation we made friends for life. We loved it and we cannot rave enough about it and we will go back again and again.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank BarbaraJimboomba_Qld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2009

I have read some of the other reports on Aore and can only say some people shouldn't travel!

My friend and I are both elderly, (well I'm definitely old) and found it the perfect relaxing getaway.

Management (Ann, Jodie and Annie) is friendly, professional and can't do enough for you.

We had a studio bungalow which was bright specaious and clean. There was no reading light for the single bed and within 20 minutes of mentioning this to Jodie, I had one. There are ample pillows, the beds were really comfortable, the bathroom spacious with no shortage of towels.

Breakfast i nourishing, but a bit ordinary, but every other meal we had was first rate.

The gardens are a joy and pool immaculate.

I've travelled the world for the last 20 years and so am qualified to make comparisons. We'd go back tomorrow.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled with friends
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2  Thank bhagger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 January 2009

Previous reviews have tagged a bit of a management problem at Aore and nothing has changed. We arrived after reserving a room with the one of the managers the week before. After being told our room would be ready at 12:30 we waited until 2:30 while a lone housekeeper worked on it. This wouldn't have been so bad had the manager not been sitting in the nearby restaurant drinking wine while staff served her lunch. This may sound a little harsh but it was a recurring sight at lunch and dinner throughout our stay. Management should be aware that when they are sitting down to a bottle of wine throughout the day most people would think that they are unapproachable if a problem occurs.

Delays in check in and food/bar service are probably no great issue but when they are happening under the nose of two managers who could prevent it if they weren't drinking/eating like guests it is very frustrating. People go to a resort to relax in a place that they can consider their own for a short while. We felt like we were eating in the lounge room and sleeping in the spare bedroom of people we had no real desire to stay with.

The only other real problem was the food, which is incredible seeing as management are the main patrons of the restaurant. Breakfast is the usual continental with croissants and muffins that are, without fail, undercooked. Just 5 more minutes would be the difference between a mouthful of dough and something a bit more palatable (please read the instructions on the box). Same goes for the cold tough steak on the all day menu. This leads to another problem, the terrible menu that does not change throughout the day. The expensive dishes are at bowling club level, not the new hip variety but the crumbling old crappy ones left over from the 70's. Think tinned asparagus and spring rolls filled with sausage meat. We travelled to some pretty rough parts of Santo and found better cheaper food everywhere. Your best bet would be to get the last boat over to Luganville and eat at the market or at the Apex hotel then pay the 2000 vatu fee to get the boat back. Not only will it be cheaper but much, much tastier and you wouldn't feel like a gruel fed captive.

People should be aware that the resort boat has a limited number of runs into town throughout the day. This makes it hard to make a quick run into town to get your own supplies.

Not all is lost. The deluxe two room bungalows on the water are by far the best rooms we saw on Santo. The other rooms are a bit spartan but are still much better than the alternatives.
The pool is a bit old and tired but the snorkeling/swimming makes up for it. A great location.

  • Stayed: January 2009
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3  Thank janeyjanejane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2009

Aore Island Resort is definitely one of the better places to stay in Santo. It is, as the name suggests, on an island. This has the advantage of being one of the better locations - Luganville on Santo itself is not that great a place to stay - its OK but not spectacular.

The accommodation is basic but good - clean and well presented. The hospitality is very good - you are made to feel very welcome. The food is very good - albeit you are a captive audience on an island and the prices are very expensive - I had to close my eyes when I signed my food bill at the end of the trip!

The diving from Santo is magnificent. Definitely recommend Aquamarine to dive with - heard some average stories about the other dive operator - Allan Power. Wouldn't really recommend going to Santo unless you are a diver however - there's not much else to do, unless you just want to read a book everyday.

Ask about the meal deal before you go. Apparently you can buy a meal package and get a discount on the food. I didn't know about this until I arrived. I asked to go on it but was told it was only possible to book it in advance. A bit annoying as I didn't know it was available beforehand!

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled solo
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3  Thank ShellyAus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Aore Island Resort

Address: Aore Road | Espiritu Santo, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Region: Vanuatu > Espiritu Santo > Aore Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Aore Island
Price Range: £116 - £186 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Aore Island Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Aore Island Resort is a stunning Pacific Island retreat with an authentic and welcoming culture nestled in a unique natural paradise. Experience the raw luxury of our private boutique bungalows and indulge in an impeccably fresh beachfront dining experience overlooking the crystal clear waters of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Aore Island Hotel Espiritu Santo
Aore Resort Santo
Aore Hotel Santo

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