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“Best time of our lives!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Starfish Cove

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Starfish Cove
3.5 of 5 Condominium   |   Teouma Road, Emten Lagoon | 2nd Lagoon, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu   |  
Hotel amenities
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Best time of our lives!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2011

My mum and I stayed here for our holiday to Vanuatu and it was fantastic! The staff were so friendly, knowledgeable and helpful and they made our stay really comfortable. We stayed in room 136 which was furthest from the bar and restaurant so we had very peaceful evenings.
The rooms are very spacious and well cleaned everyday with kitchen facilities so we could make some small meals for ourselves. The property has stunning views of the lagoon and you can see lots of tropical fish from your balcony or while having a delicious breakfast. Many of the locals come by on their canoes and are very happy to say hello.
What we really liked was that it was not too far from Port Vila or the local beach, which you can get to cheaply using the local buses (about AUD$2 per person each way). A lot of the friendly locals come by to say hi too which is great.
I highly recommend this place, it is really exceptional and we had the time of our lives.

Room Tip: Room 136 is great.
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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48 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2011

My daughter and I were visiting Port Vila for the first time, so really unsure what to expect in terms of accommodation styles and location. We wanted a self-contained, modernish hotel within close proximity to Port Vila. We checked, double-checked and read a million and 1 reviews on pretty much every accommodation option in Vila and finally decided on Starfish Cove which appeared to tick all of our boxes. I'm happy to say the hotel met our expectations; the staff were friendly and the rate was reasonable. A continental breakfast was included on each of the 4 days of our stay, which was very nice. The hotel is too far to walk into Vila, especially given the heat so it is necessary to stand outside and flag down a 'bus', which proved very easy and offered excellent opportunities to meet and talk with locals. So unless you want to be right in VIla, and are happy with a $150VUT bus ride (per person) each time you want to go in and out of Vila, I'd happily recommend Starfish Cove.

Room Tip: Ask for one as far away from the restaurant as possible - they are quieter.
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2011

My husband and I stayed here for 5 nights, and it was awesome.

We were in room 136, which is the furthest from the reception. Upon getting in the room I found a card from hotel management congratulating us on our honeymoon.

The room was modern and spacious. The bed was comfy and the couch was comfy. We loved the TV and iPod dock which we used all the time.

This hotel is located about 10 minutes by bus from Port Vila, which means you don't get the noise, all you get is the lovely sound of waves lapping beneith you.

It will only cost 150vatu to get to Port Vila from here (roughly $1.50) and the same to return in a bus. Do not get a taxi, they will charge you whatever they like. The bus will take you anywhere you want to go.

The food at this hotel is exceptional too. I have writen a review of it, it is called Le Starfish Restaurant. Amazing service, staff and food. You will not be disappointed by this property.

For us it was the perfect introduction to Vanuatu which gave us room to relax and unwhind. We will definitely be coming back here!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
171 reviews 171 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
373 helpful votes 373 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2011

This was our first visit to Port Vila and we wanted reasonably priced, but good, accommodation which offered both a kitchen and an on-site restaurant. We did lots of research and finally booked with Starfish Cove, having negotiated a good price direct with the resort.

We were pleased with our choice. The accommodation was modern and comfortable. The kitchen was well-equipped but, as others have said, it was disappointing not to have an oven so we couldn’t grill some of that fantastic Vanuatu beef. It also lacked a coffee plunger so we couldn’t brew Tanna coffee. Those were the only minor complaints. We prepared our own lunch every day with great ingredients from the Bon Marche Nambatu supermarket.

The bathroom was also well equipped, plenty of towels and toiletries and a combination washing machine/drier. The unit was spotless and was well serviced daily.

We stayed in the original block of 6 units (this only a year old) and the newer block of 12 is nearly completed. 6 are operational and the remaining 6 are being fitted out and furnished. There was no building noise from this.

Starfish is right on the Emten lagoon with beautiful views across to the far shore. It’s at its best around sunrise when the lagoon is dead calm and the reflections are wonderful. It is, however, on a fairly narrow strip of land so the road is quite close and it’s just about always busy. However, the position of the bedroom meant we were not kept awake at night.

There was no room for gardens so we were disappointed not to see any birds.

Although beautiful, the lagoon is not suitable for swimming, but we knew that. There is a nice pool at the resort but it is quite small, especially when all 18 units are in operation.

Our package included a continental breakfast which was served in their restaurant, La Grillade. This was surprisingly substantial with juice, coffee of choice, cereal, fruit and yoghurt, a plate of cold meats and cheese, and croissants, toast and pain au chocolat. We certainly didn’t feel the need for a cooked breakfast.

Since the last review the restaurant and bar have been sold and are now under separate ownership and operation. I think this may cause some problems in the future.

The food in the restaurant, La Grillade, is excellent under the current executive chef, Laurent Essner, and we ate there most evenings. I will review the restaurant separately.

But Friday nights there is live entertainment in the bar. This was not for the benefit of residents but for all-comers to the bar. We found it noisy but others may not.

But of more concern is that the restaurant/bar owner is planning to open a kava bar. The building is already there, between the bar and the new accommodation block, but has yet to be fitted out. To be frank, this would put me off returning to Starfish and I would recommend anyone considering staying here should check the status of this ‘innovation’.

It was too far to walk into Vila but the buses and taxis pass by very frequently. The bus ride is something of an event because of the huge potholes in the road further along the road towards Vila. Traffic travels on the right, left and in the middle to try (usually unsuccessfully) to avoid them. Alarming at first, but I guess part of the local scenery. Whether they will be fixed anytime soon is doubtful.

We found Sydney, the Manager, and his staff courteous and helpful and there is a small library in reception which we found useful.

So overall, Starfish Cove gave us what we wanted for our first visit. Modern accommodation with kitchen and a very good on-site restaurant. We would stay there again, subject to checking the status of the kava bar and other entertainment – the potential noise of which would concern us. However, there are lots of different accommodation options in Vila so we would probably look for a different experience next time.

Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2011

My husband, self and two children visited Starfish Cove (called Starfish by the locals) for a week earlier this year. We caught a bus 2,000 vatu from the airport to Starfish. We were warmly welcomed by Cyclone and Sydney (GM) upon arrival and given a cool drink. The drink was most welcome as we had travelled from cold Melbourne and the weather was hot! The setting is amazing lagoon views everywhere you look and the bar, rooms and restaurant are built over it. Our room was spacious, clean and everything worked! Plenty of spare linen for the kid's sofa bed at night. My only complaint is there is no BBQ on the balcony and no oven in the kitchen (there is a stove top and microwave) either one which would make self catering a little easier.
Breakfast was very enjoyable, table service each morning included cereal, toast, croissants, cheese, ham, fruit, coffee and juice. The coffee is one of the best in Vila. The pool area is lovely, we often had the pool to ourselves and spent a great morning swimming with a local family. Lunch can be eaten in the restaurant or snack-style meals around the pool. This was a very reasonably priced way to have lunch and a cocktail! We ate in the restaurant La Grilliade one evening and we all enjoyed the meals. The food is of a very good standard and the lagoon setting amazing!
Babysitting is available and the lovely Lolita (who also works in the resort bar and restaurant) looked after the children and formed a lovely bond with them.
My husband used the gym and found it adequate for his needs.
There are also kayak's available for use foc which we made use of. We also snorkelled in the lagoon, though the quality is not great. We did not use the health & beauty facilities.
Location wise the resort is about 8 mins from central Port Vila shops, and 15 mins to Au Bon Marche Numbatu (which is the best for food and grocery shopping). There are plenty of buses driving past, so no problems getting around.
During our stay we felt like we had the resort and staff to ourselves as there were only 6 apartments available. 12 more apartments will be open in March which will make the resort feel busier. Check out a breeze- dream stay.
Personal message me if you require any more information.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Zealand
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2010

There is no doubt that Starfish Cove is a top-quality resort. Easily 5 stars, with the accommodation just about a year old. The anomaly being its position. Facing the resort is a hideous mess where the hillside has been inexpertly cut away to afford a saleable piece of land. Seemingly attached to the resort on the east side is a series of decrepit concrete walls – either an abandoned attempt to build a waterfront resort, or one partly demolished. On the west side, a set of part finished units, where work seems to have come to a standstill. But we didn’t come to Starfish to look at the road. Once inside the unit we had the welcome sight of the tranquil lagoon. But don’t expect a beach. This is strictly an ‘over the water’ resort, and there is lots of it.

Location from the delights of Port Vila would be about 10 – 12 Km. A long walk. Busses pass about every 10 seconds and will get you into the town for 150Vt. If you prefer a taxi, it will cost at least 1,000 Vt (about $15NZ), but like the bus, you may be presented with a clapped-out bomb or a reasonably modern vehicle. A bit of a lottery.

The six accommodation units are extremely up-to-date and comfortable, and nothing has been spared. The lounge area is spacious, with a very nice sofa and two easy chairs, plus a dining area with stools and a compact well equipped kitchen area. If you are inclined to cook food, note that there is no exhaust fan.

The bedroom area is separated from the lounge by sliding glass doors. Ideal for canceling any noise from the road, but a little hazardous to find the way to the bathroom in dead of night without disturbing a partner. This area has an excellent king-sized bed and its own air conditioning and ceiling fan, plenty of wardrobe storage, but no natural light.

More sliding glass doors and insect screens lead onto a spacious balcony, with very nice recliners and a four place dining set – somewhat over furnished for two people, but 5 star quality.

If you require TV entertainment, the satellite channels are adequate, but although advertised as having DVD players, in unit 134 at least, this only applies to music DVD’s played through a radio. There are no AV cables installed, so video DVD’s cannot be used. Like most small things that go wrong at a resort, reporting them can lead to more problems than you need,. So best left to when you leave. For example, the sliding doors to our verandah refused to move. Referring this to reception led to a procession of visiting fixers over two days, and finally to a tradesman who would arrive from town, maybe tomorrow. Thankfully he never arrived. Likewise with the entrance door, which had warped so badly that it screeched alarmingly when opened or closed, and no application of sun-tan oil could fix it. We mentioned it in the resort evaluation when we left.

On arrival, we were the only guests, but whether this was a factor or not, we had no complaints about the friendly service, especially from Johnny, David and Big Willie. Everything was immediate.

The restaurant ‘Le Grillade’. Our breakfast there was included in the tariff. Not a buffet, but delivered to the table. Quite substantial, and with the strange inclusion of a rolled slice of luncheon meat, a tiny wedge of cheese and half a tiny tomato. But the coffee was good, as were the croissants and the chocolate filled bread. The service – as usual – first class.

We ate most of our evening meals there. Mainly because of the inconvenience of traveling to town, so it was our choice.

Have to say the restaurant is quite striking. Lots of beautiful napery and glittery glassware and cutlery, to say nothing of the lagoon view, and the service is impeccable, but it seems to fall a bit flat when you are the only customers. The menu has a reasonable range, but the accompanying vegetable for every meal, being undercooked green beans, sweet potatoes and fries became a little monotonous. Strange for a country with such a wealth of natural vegetable resources. The steaks were good, the fish just so-so (ex frozen I would guess). Sauces and dressings average. The calamari was tender. I would class Le Grillade as 10 stars for appearance, 10 stars for service and about 6 stars for food.

But I think this is par for the course for Port Vila. Opinions vary of course, but generally New Zealanders rate restaurants by value for value for money, as well as quality, and restaurants in Port Vila seem to be somewhat lacking in this respect.

Conclusions? Starfish Cove is a haven in incongruous surroundings. Like most Melanesian ventures – although with French ownership – pretty laid back, but with good people trying to earn a living. Go there for quality surroundings and top service.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2010

Starfish Cove was just lovely. They are like a studio apartment with a small kitchen facility, a lounge area, separate bedroom and a bathroom with washer/dryer. Everything you could need was there and the quality was very good. The resort also has a small fitness centre, pool, a beauty spa (great massage!), a bar and restaurant. Food was excellent, staff were great & location, while out of Port Vila central, was only a 150 (about $AUD2 p/p) vatu trip to town. Good breakfast was included in the price. Kayaks were available to paddle the lagoon, but there's nothing under the water to see there so that's pretty much an exercise option!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Starfish Cove

Address: Teouma Road, Emten Lagoon | 2nd Lagoon, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Efate > Port Vila
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 30 Specialty Lodging in Port Vila
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Starfish Cove 3.5*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Starfish Cove is a stunning tourism development on the shore on Emten Lagoon (2nd Lagoon). This absolute waterfront resort is just a 5 minute drive from the center of Port Vila.Each of the 18 self-contained One Bedroom Apartments are tastefully furnished with all the modern conveniences and services of a fine holiday resort and command an extensive vista of the lagoon serenity ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Starfish Cove Hotel Port Vila
Starfish Cove Vanuatu/Port Vila

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