HOTEL REVIEW: THE HANGA ROA ECO VILLAGE & SPA ON EASTER ISLAND
What it is
Hotel Hanga Roa is named after (and located in) the commercial center of Rapa Nui Island, also known as Easter Island. It’s the perfect vacation destination for families and couples looking for a slice of paradise!
Where it is
Hotel Hanga Roa is on the southwest border of a triangular piece of land in the South Pacific commonly known as Easter Island. It’s a walking distance from the airport, most restaurants, and the moai of Ahu Tahai. The gorgeous and windy coastal scenery gives the hotel a sense of isolation.
What you’ll find
Inaugurated in 2012, it’s a fairly new hotel with 75 rooms, all of which are facing the ocean and some serious sunset views. The design of the suites pay homage to the ceremonial houses of Orongo village, one of the few constructions from early Rapa Nui people. Ceilings are covered in grass, but it doesn’t impact the view from the coast. The hotel also has the only spa structure in Rapa Nui, the Manavai, with massages and cosmetic treatments which use natural oils and scents.
What’s inside the suites
Suites include a bathtub made of polished dark stone, a stylish sink made of volcanic stone, an enormous sofa, and the biggest bed I have ever seen. Rooms have a classy vibe and are decorated in hues of grey, white, and beige. All the items one might expect from a luxury hotel are available: designer bathroom amenities, a fancy coffee maker, fine linen, extremely comfortable bathrobes, chocolate placed over your pillow every afternoon and your own sliding door to the ocean. The better suites are located closer to edge of the hotel. You may hear a few noises from the coastal road, but the view compensates. Trust me.
What to eat
There are two restaurants: the Poerava and Kaloa Bristo.
This is a small island that depends on the conti, continental Chile, for almost everything. Still, sous-chef José Vergara keeps an eye open for fresh ingredients like the local fish — purple tuna or mahi mahi — and fruits such as guava, pineapple, and haia.
Continental breakfast is served at Poerava and includes eggs, dairy, pastries, juices, seasonal fruits, and muesli. Unless you’re planning on escaping really early to see the sunrise from the top of a volcano, there’s no reason to avoid a delicious breakfast before your day starts.
Dinner and sunset drinks are served every evening at Kaloa. Have a glass of the tasty Chilean chardonnay with a small selection of fresh sea food cooked to perfection. For dessert, don’t miss the poe cake, a kind of pudding made of bananas or pumpkins.
When to go
High season is summer, from November to February. A local music and arts festival happens between late February, and if you want to attend, you should book rooms and flights (Lan Chile, one daily flight) in advance. During winter time the weather is chilly and windy with clear skies, ideal for hiking and cycle tours. Also, during off-season you have the feeling that the island exists only for you.
The main thing to do in Rapa Nui is exploring. And there’s no better way to go exploring than with a Rapa Nui guide who has knowledge of the local land and culture from his family.
The tour agency working with Hanga Roa Hotel is Mahinatur, a group committed to offering an experience that’s both interesting for the tourist and respectful for the environment and heritage. There are full and half day tours, and they can be arranged in advance at the front desk. A visit to Ahu Tongariki, with 15 enormous standing Moai and the ceremonial village of Orongo, at Rano Kay volcano is essential. A week in Easter Island is enough to see all of it, but you will still leave with some unanswered questions and the desire to continue exploring.
What else is there?
I visited during wintertime and it was too cold to try the pool, but it is very scenic, wide and faces the ocean. Even during high season space is not a problem.
Hanga Roa also features a gym and a small souvenir shop selling crafts, typical Rapa Nui products, and a small selection of books. Just ask for them at the spacious and gorgeously decorated front desk.
Rent a bicycle on your first day and return it before leaving. Pedal to/from downtown, explore the coastal roads, go see the sunset at Ahu Tahai and explore far beyond the airport lane. Rapa Nui is very wide open for explorations and you can go virtually anywhere. The fact that it is a small island also helps.
How to get there
Here are some links with helpful information about how to get to Hotel Hanga Roa on Easter Island: