Winner of Trip Advisor’s “Travellers Choice Award” for three consecutive years and voted in the top 10 “Best Family Resorts in the South Pacific” by Australian magazine “Holidays with kids”, there is no doubt that the team at Aquana knows how to take the stress out of family holidays.
On the beautiful Eratap peninsula, with a stunning waterfront location, and only fifteen minutes from Port Vila, this boutique family resort opened in 2012, offering families a place to relax, reconnect, play and have lots of fun.
Far from the crowded, noise-filled accommodation hubs so often associated with family holidays, the resort consists of only thirteen bungalows and serenity is all around, even when the resort is full. Aquana has two one-bedroom bungalows and eleven two-bedroom bungalows, with four beachfront, six water view and one garden view bungalow, all of them very close to the shore. The bungalows are spacious and modern with all mod-cons. Every bungalow has a separate lounge area with a full lounge set, bar fridge, tea and coffee facilities, satellite TV/DVD and movie library including, of course, children’s movies. WIFI, phone, a private veranda with outdoor furniture including a swinging chair, air con, ceiling fans and mozzie screen in all windows complete the comfort picture.
Aquana is full of wonders indeed but the biggest point of difference could be the team of eighteen nannies (yes, thirteen bungalows, eighteen nannies) at the ready, ensuring that weary parents in need of a break can get time for themselves. Aquana provides a free day care nanny service while parents are on the premises and babysitting is available at the very reasonable price of 500 vatu per hour when parents want to go out and explore on their own.
Aquana has chosen to cater for families but, with such beautiful and romantic surroundings, they could just as well have catered for couples on their honeymoon and certainly, parents can feel as if they are on their second honeymoon while at Aquana.
The resort’s grounds are gorgeous. Fringed by the small, spectacular islands of Eratap, the ocean is perfectly calm and great for activities that both adults and children can enjoy. Take a kayak and head towards the outside of the channel and you will find yourself in a landscape conducive to divine inspiration. Little islands, crowned with palms, sit on the calm, turquoise lagoon, so spectacular that it is impossible not to be taken aback by its beauty.
The kayaks and paddle-boards are available for guests to explore the perfectly calm bay and at low tide, the locals walk and paddle their canoes across the reef for a spot of fishing. Those with small children can jump on a traditional outrigger canoe or motorised boat and be taken to the neighbouring islands and the lagoon for a snorkel on the outer reef, a picnic or a small adventure and walk across one of the islands.
Aquana provides a fun, stress-free family holiday and both parents and pikininis can have a fun time, together and apart. A children’s outdoor play area with a slide, climbing toys and a huge trampoline will delight the little ones in the family. Swing chairs on the beach, volleyball court, table tennis and soccer table will keep the big brothers and sisters amused. On a rainy day or when in need of a break from the sun, Aquana also has a children’s undercover play area with children’s toys and a movie screen for the occasional children’s movie.
The swimming pool is right next to the restaurant and adults can relax with a cocktail while the kids play in the water. The nannies are on board, ready to lend a hand so that parents can enjoy a book, an island massage or some R&R time on their own. When ready to explore a little further, there is a natural spring nearby and Eratap village is a short stroll away; visitors are welcomed in the village and can even attend the village Sunday church.
When the night comes, Aquana keeps up the entertainment with fire show nights, Melanesian cultural nights with custom dance and music and trivia nights. White linen covers the restaurant tables in the evenings and high-class cuisine comes at good prices. Fresh lobster is available daily straight from the bay and local fisherman supply fresh fish. A full kids’ menu is available and the chefs are happy to cater for the little fussy eaters.
Aquana is not just for families – couples and friends also chose to enjoy its great location. A favourite hangout for the locals on Sundays, when the French and Australian expat community turns out in big numbers to enjoy the live music and great seafood. The ‘coconut seafood chowder’ is all the rage and of course, the lobster is the star of the menu. Aquana welcomes day visitors to enjoy a delicious, leisurely lunch or dinner, have a relaxing swim or explore the bay in the kayaks and stand up paddle boards.
Standard rates start at AU$362 per night for beachfront bungalows, AU$312 for water view bungalows and AU$282 for garden view. Rates include continental and hot breakfast and special deals for locals are available at certain times.
Story by Patricia Gil, photography by Graham Crumb.