The Eratap Resort vs. The Havannah Resort
Some of you might be wondering which Vanuatu resort you might stay at if you chose to visit Efate Island, and whether The Eratap Resort was better than The Havannah or vice versa. I put this out there because I had found it difficult to choose between the two, so I spent part of my 2014 winter vacation at both of them. While I had many glowing and wonderful things to say about Eratap during my time there, I withheld talking about The Havannah because a) I was staying there last and still wanted them to smile at me, and b) I wanted to give it more thought.
You should know that The Havannah is located on the northwestern side of the island, more north than west, and the Eratap Resort is on the southern side, more south than east. Also, The Havannah is located in a harbor with a view of the ocean passage a long ways off, whereas the Eratap Resort is smack dab on the ocean, for the most part. It does wrap around a peninsula with a few islands on the other side, but my villa #4 was 4 doors down from the restaurant and faced the rugged ocean.
My personal preference is the ocean. I adore walking out my back door, across the lawn to the sand and jumping into the water. With The Havannah, you have a ways to go, although my villa was #15, on the water, and right next to the restaurant. Which meant on New Year’s Eve I sprang outta bed at midnight like a rocket when the firecrackers exploded in front of my window.
The villa at Eratap was actually a one-bedroom suite. The living area was separate and set back from the bedroom. Picture two squares adjoined about halfway and you’ve got the layout at The Eratap. I was exhausted when I arrived from Honolulu via Australia. The following morning when I sleepily ventured out on my deck, I was very careful to quietly close the door to my deck because I did not want to disturb my neighbor on the other deck — and it took me a day or two to realize that the other neighbor was me. I had two decks. One for the bedroom and one for the living room.
Also, the interior of the villas at Eratap were island style, with high thatched roofs, and The Havannah was more modern, flat walls, flat ceiling, only one room with a step up to the sleeping area and bath. It felt like a cave. But it had a tremendous view of the water.
I think the prices were more reasonable at The Eratap Resort. The villas cost less, and the restaurant seemed comparable except that the portions were larger. When I first checked into The Havannah, I ordered a Greek salad for lunch. What arrived in front of me was a bit of a shock: a few leafs of lettuce, a couple of chunks of feta cheese, a handful of black olives and a few hard tomato wedges, laid out artfully on a pristine white rectangular serving dish. The overall ambiance of the restaurant at The Havannah was more luxurious than the Eratap, but it was also a bit distressing that the staff were required to address me by name over and over. Not just one server, but a whole bunch would welcome me to the restaurant, and some people like to be fussed over like that in a pretentious way, but I’m not one of them.
The Havannah grounds were laid out just like a South Pacific Island resort, which is neither bad nor good, it’s just predictable and cookie-cutter, like every other resort. Eratap Resort is more like a bunch of cottages that formed a community but are private and quiet. Eratap was a place I could envision myself living whereas The Havannah was more of a manufactured experience. Although the trip to the Kava Bar and the village of Tanoliu was simply incredible and a day I will remember the rest of my life.
I also enjoy fishing, and the charters from Eratap were much more reasonable than those at The Havannah. I got the sense that The Havannah connected guests with charters and probably picked up a fee for doing so, whereas the Eratap has their own boat and their own guys who take you out. There is no set time for the trip at Eratap as it is by the hour and you can come back whenever you want. That to me is a true vacation experience. Also, The Eratap was $30 an hour, and I split it with a guy two doors down, so it was only $15.
The Havannah wanted $600 for half a day. When I pointed out to General Manager Frederick that I could grab a cab for fifty bucks each way, go fishing at Eratap Resort and return to The Havannah, still ahead by four hundred bucks, he just shrugged. Seems like highway robbery but I suppose the Australian tourists don’t mind.
Then, there’s the pool. Even if I don’t swim in the pool, I like to lounge by the pool and imagine that it is my very own private pool and all the grounds around it for as far as the eye can see. I can sit by a pool and read a book for hours. Especially if I can watch the ocean from the pool. Eventually, I will get up and go for a dip in the ocean.
The pool at the Havannah is rather small and villas hang over the top of it. It has a bar, but I never saw anybody staff the bar. It’s not really very private. Whereas the pool at The Eratap reminded me of the solitude at the Neptune pool at Heart Castle in San Simeon, without the Grecian statues or Roman Temple facade.
While I left too soon to enjoy a massage, which I had booked for later in the day of my departure before I realized I was instead supposed to be checking out, I did walk through the spa at The Eratap. It was open and airy, with a light ocean breeze throughout. All the towels and tables and supplies were laid out, waiting for a guest to dial the reception. At The Havannah, where I did actually have a massage, the room as small, dark, enclosed and while enjoyable it fell along the lines of my massage at The Four Seasons in Lanai in Manele Bay, which is to say it fell short of expectations. But I am probably not the best person to talk about massages because I’m overly particular about them.
In conclusion, my vote will go with The Eratap Resort. But I crave solitude, privacy, and I don’t want to be needlessly fussed over. Luxury without the fuss is my review for Eratap. If you’re more social and don’t care how much it costs, you might prefer The Havannah. Both resorts are a great place to stay in Vanuatu.