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“Never again under current ownership.” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Seachange Lodge

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Seachange Lodge
Captain Cook Avenue, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu   |  
Hotel amenities
Sydney, Australia
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“Never again under current ownership.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2012

The 2 plus aspects of this place are the location and the Garden Cottage, but they are overwhelmed by the negatives, the primary of which is the current owner managers, Rick and Wendy. We booked in early January 2012 for a period of 15 nights in the Garden Cottage from May 4th to 19th 2012, and duly deposited 3 nights, A$450 immediately, and bought our Air Vanuatu tickets for 2 weeks holiday. The first week of which was to learn to SCUBA dive. A month prior to arrival we were informed our booking for the Garden Cottage would not be honoured due to a double booking, which we discovered later was a single older lady needing the place for a week for work. Wendy said we could have an "upgrade" to a the Lagoon Lodge at no cost to us as it was their fault. How I wish I'd cancelled and gone to Nasama Resort for the entire period, as they had opening specials in May.
On arrival Rick and Wendy insisted we pay the full amount of our accommodation prior to checking in as "people had left not paying their account" in the past. Once we checked in to the Lagoon Lodge it was obvious why they wanted prior payment, we'd have walked. The LL is pokey and run down, the shutter windows don't open, the futon lounge is falling apart, and the facilities such as table and lighting for us to study our diving theory were less than optimum. We made nary a protest but on the Sunday night the only overhead light flickered out while we prepped for the first dive test. When Rick and Wendy were summoned you'd have thought we orchestrated the entire thing and it became a major drama when it was obvious that it wasn't just a blown light bulb. The self-catering facilities are a joke and the gas operated hot water system is old and dysfunctional. Borers and termites leave so much dust, that despite our cleaning their litter from the floor before bed, you still track it back to bed using the bathroom at night. We tolerated this all week knowing that we would get into the far more modern Garden Cottage at the end of the week. When we spoke to Rick on the Friday about that move, he babbled on inanely about getting what you pay for, and said he didn't think we were actually going to be moved. Luckily Wendy later intervened, and we moved into the now vacated Garden cottage, modern with reasonable facilities, though the gas ran out after the first night and being the weekend had to use the BBQ bottle for showers and kitchen, precluding using the BBQ of course, until the big bottle was replaced Monday. Naturally that was a major drama for Rick and Wendy too, obviously we'd orchestrated this to be as inconvenient as we possibly could.Then once the BBQ was working Rick said a family in another unit wanted to use the BBQ right outside our window. We said OK, again being accommodating and friendly, despite Rick totally forgetting our names, but they cooked and walked away leaving the utensils there. Wendy came by the next morning and demanded imperiously we wash them and put them away. We then had to demand a few small items that went missing after the move - their staff moved us while we were off diving - be returned which they were.
All these small things just wore us away, there is so much more, every interaction with Rick and Wendy seemed to be tense and rude, all we wanted was the place we'd been recommended, paid for, and wanted, yet didn't complain at all about being displaced from.
The last part of the second week we had minimal interaction with either Wendy or Rick and that made our week, we just did our tourist thing and cooked our food and used the TV and nice lounge area.
In finality this place might be good for a few days max but nothing I saw in the so called Chalet (a joke surely, we did get inside it for a look) or Lagoon Lodge would indicate a longer stay could be pleasant. All the furniture inside and out is all run down and falling apart.
We would consider staying again at the Garden Cottage only, but of course that would be after Rick and Wendy have sold the property and have nothing to do with it.

Room Tip: The only part of the Seachange worth staying in is the Garden Cottage, the Chalet (the word chokes m...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PVHaven, Owner at Seachange Lodge, responded to this review, September 14, 2012
It is upsetting as owner/operators when guests are unhappy, but say nothing to us, as it is very important to us what guests are thinking. It is often comments made by a guest that helps us improve things.

We would like to make just one or two points.

When this couple arrived, the ‘older woman’ (who would definitely not appreciate that description) was just completing a 9 week stay with us. (She is working in Vanuatu for 2 years, so had lots of gear with her). If we had known that the new guests were unhappy at being upgraded to an absolute water front unit, at no extra cost, we could have asked the single person to shift for her two final weeks.

We notify all our guests in our email, that they will receive the balance of their account on arrival. Had they purchased a booking through a wholesaler, they would have paid the full amount in January.

I do have a question as to how can guests orchestrate a light bulb blowing, or a gas bottle running out? We have always been ready to accommodate these problems, no matter what time of the day or night, as many other guests can testify.

Re the use of the barbecue outside their room, we can only apologize for that, as this was an obvious error. Washing the barbecue and the utensils is the task of the staff, not the guests, as the rooms are serviced daily, except for Sundays.

We treat the white ants as soon as possible, however, it is an ongoing problem in Port Vila, not just a Seachange Lodge problem. We have an ongoing maintenance program and attempt to keep everything, as much as possible, up to standard.

We are fully aware that different people have different needs. What suits some, does not suit others. Some prefer the glitz and glamour of a large resort, others prefer a quiet peaceful property, where they feel they have their own private space. We have had guests who have just loved the Lodge and the Chalet with its private spa and pier.

We are only sorry that these guests had a negative experience at Seachange Lodge and again, hope it does not influence their opinion of Vanuatu in general.
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82 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 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 (21)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2012

Vanuatu Holiday 15 August-22nd August 2012
After trawling the internet for some time we decided to book our holiday in Port Vila with Seachange Lodge as the brochure looked inviting and stating “a home away from home” and the cost was reasonable. We were not looking for luxury just something comfortable, clean and being able to self-cater with internet available as my wife needed to check email daily for her business whilst she was away. She did double checked with Wendy by email and we were advised internet wireless available in all rooms but this was incorrect; Internet was absolutely not available in any guest room within the Seachange Complex. We arrived late evening of 15th, Wendy arranged transport for us which was cost us AU$12.50 each and we had to share the bus with 4 others and be driven around before being dropped off last .
We later found out that it only cost AU$10 for bus to /from the airport without sharing with other passengers. After checking in, we noticed the main light above the bed of our room was not working and was hanging down ready to fall, the bedside lamp did not work. Went to make a cup of tea and only one of the burners on the stove worked having a shower the Hot water was very limited to say the least. Our bigger pillow had not had the cover changed and smelt badly. Next day my wife went to see Wendy and mentioned the few things that needed to be fixed she moved us into the two bedroom garden cottage which was huge far too big for what we required but we accepted with gratitude. Sometime later, Rick accosted my wife and rudely asked her why we had booked a cheap room, but requested to move into an expensive room. My wife replied “you are asking the wrong person as it was your wife that moved us voluntarily”. Also at this time he stated that there were a lot of hotels in town, if we don’t like it move, my wife ignored this remark.. We intended to stay until the end of our holidays which was only another five days, so we went to town and bought flowers for the room and food to cook. My wife tried her best to get on the internet, but failed, internet did not work even though she took her computer into Seachange’s reception area, she only managed 5 minutes of internet then it dropped out. Being frustrated we decided to have an early night. When she was in the bed she pulled up the mohair blanked that was on the bed inside it contained a dead putrefied lizard at first she thought it was a child’s toy left from a previous guest but when she smelt the revolting odour from the animal she vomited it had obviously been there some days I removed the blanket and dead animal outside. My wife was so upset she could not sleep well at all . Early next morning we went to Port Vila and found alternative accommodation. On returning we advised them both we were leaving and showed Rick the dead animal he picked up the blanket and threw the animal on the garden mumbling “I should get the blanket washed”. When my wife went to settle the account, Wendy had charged us for three nights instead of two she also stated that “if you do not like animals in the room you should not come to a tropical country, if you don’t like, go go go”. At that time I intervened asking the reason why three nights were charged and she said it was a cancellation fee and I argued is this the case even if we had been asked to leave by her husband she then apologised and said “he should not have said that At that stage my wife opened her computer showing her the pictures of the dead animal and said it was nothing to do with being a tropical country it was a cleaning issue. Wendy then went quiet went into her office and amended the account to two nights, we paid and left. One positive thing was they had a beautiful garden, it’s a pity they did not have a positive attitude to customers’ It seemed that I had stayed at Faulty Towers and Rick was Basil !!!!!
David and Lilly

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PVHaven, Owner at Seachange Lodge, responded to this review, September 14, 2012
On Saturday 18th August I sent this email to Lily and David.

First, Lily and David, I would like to sincerely apologize for your unfortunate experience at Seachange Lodge. I can assure you both, this is not the norm.
The incident with the gecko was extremely unfortunately and the housemaids have now been instructed to make sure that all throw over rugs are taken outside and shaken every time they change a room over. This is the only time in 10 years of operation, something like that has happened.
Concerning Studio 2 they were a mixture of small errors. Both gas rings were fully operational – it only required the gas lighter to be replaced.
The bedside lamp was unplugged from the wall. For some unknown reason, guests seem to unplug the light at the wall – perhaps to plug in a computer. However, they forget to replace the plug when they leave, and the staff, who don’t have electricity in their own home, don’t think to check the light.
The ceiling light had simply slipped out of the socket and only needed pushing firmly back in.
I have taken time out to send this report to you, as we work hard at Seachange Lodge to take care of the small things, as you witnessed me doing, when you were upgraded to the Garden Cottage.
I can only apologize for your sad experience here and trust the rest of your stay in Vanuatu was a lot more rewarding.

I am quite happy for you to make your complaints public, but could you also please make this email public as well, as it is important for the travelling public to have a clear understanding of what happens to other travelers, both good and bad.

Your sincerely,
Rick and Wendy Tendys

On one or two other points.
We offer to organize airport transfers at a set cost. Guests are free to make their own arrangements if they choose, by getting a taxi from outside the airport. The normal cost of a taxi to Seachange Lodge is 2,000 vatu (AUD $25).

All linen is definitely changed every time guests leave, without fail. I do not understand Lily’s assessment on this one. The throw over rugs are washed on a regular basis also.

We are aware that some people find geckos a problem, (not that we see dead ones). We do try to keep them to a minimum in the rooms, but this is very difficult in the tropics.

Re the Internet – our emails clearly state that wifi is available. All our other guests have been able to use the Internet in the Lagoonview Studios. Some are able to get the Internet on the verandah of the Garden Cottage, others are not able. However, there is a table and chair available for guests at the office.

Re the extra day charged (which I cancelled when they objected). When a pre-done booking is cancelled, you are charged an extra day. I have booked overflow bookings in other accommodation properties and then cancelled and had to pay that extra day.

As I said in my email to Lily and David, I can only apologize for their unfortunate experience at Seachange Lodge and hope that did not colour their experience of Vanuatu.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gold Coast
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2012

Just spent a week here and due the kindness of the owners was upgraded to the Chalet which was waterfront and one of the most peaceful places on earth. Brilliant location and i found it hard to leave the chalet to go to work. I will be returning when next I work in Vanuatu. Rick and Wendy could not have been more helpful.

Room Tip: The chalet is more expensive but well worth it for the ambiance.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2012

For our last four nights in Port Vila we wanted to stay somewhere that would enable us to walk or bus easily into town so that we could use the supermarket, have some meals out and visit some of the pubs. We also wanted to do some self catering, so a kitchen was important. Also, I should mention that having a private outdoor area to sit and chat, have cups of tea or a glass of wine is vitally important to any of our holiday accommodation choices. We never like to feel that we are confined to our room or just the public spaces available to everyone. Seachange Lodge was so much more than we had hoped.

We were already in Port Vila staying in a motel that did not offer all of the above and we had no outdoor privacy......AT ALL! My birthday was the next day and I didn't want to wake up where I was, so we started thinking of all the places we know in Port Vila (We have been 6 times). We weren't necessarily looking for somewhere on the water, but it's always more preferable, and so lovely to sit and look at. Anyway, we rang Rick and Wendy and were assured of a good deal so we bundled our bags into a taxi (Rick had offered to collect us but we declined) and were sitting on their private deck within minutes. What an amazing view they have!

Rick gave us the grand tour of all the accommodation types and we would have been happy with any of them.......but........and it's a big but.......Rick offered us an amazing deal for the Waterside Chalet. Why wouldn't we choose it? Have a look at the photos, what you see is what you get. It's amazing. So, instead of waking up in a small motel room, we woke the next morning to a gorgeous sunrise glowing across the lagoon. Yes, that's the view from your bed! You can draw the heavy drapes if you want to sleep in, but we just locked the security screen each night and left the curtains and the glass sliding door open so that we had good air circulation and each morning when we opened our eyes the first thing we saw was the lagoon. They call it your home away from home. Oh, I wish it was my home.

ACCOMMODATION
Here's the serious stuff.

Some of the accommodation at Seachange Lodge is air conditioned, but not the Waterside Chalet and it doesn't need it in my opinion. We were there in mid January and never felt hot in our room. It's RIGHT on the water and there are fans, but we didn't even put them on to sleep.

The Waterside Chalet has a kitchenette with everything that we needed to make all of our breakfasts, some of our lunches and a couple of dinners. Au Bon Marche Nambatu is a few minutes easy walk for great shopping and alcohol purchases.

The ground floor is like a studio with a massive private bathroom, with a large shower space and a spa bath with a view. There are single beds up in the loft if you want to get away from each other, or put older kids. But keep in mind you will be overlooked by them, so no privacy. Also I personally wouldn't want to put children up there...but I am scared of heights.....so it might not bother you. (The Lagoon Lodge and Garden Cottage are ideal for families).

There is a lounge area and a TV, for DVDs only, nearer to the bed. DVDs are supplied and there are more up at the main house.

There is a kayak to use free of charge and a dinghy with an outboard motor that I think you just pay for the fuel you use. We didn't use it, but it would be great to motor up to Erakor Island for an afternoon, or dinner.

The Waterside Chalet and Lagoon Lodge are down a steep driveway and right on the lagoon, but Rick and Wendy have built a garden pathway to make the journey up the hill easier. The gardens are lovely with lots of beautiful plants to look at and there's a great view when you get to the top. I guess you could ask a taxi to come right down to collect you, and there is parking down there. The walk up didn't bother us though.

The other rooms are at the top, so no uphill walk, not on the water, but some have amazing views.

We loved our stay, it had everything we needed and we felt really spoilt and special.

Room Tip: The Waterside Chalet has a private jetty right on the water. It's very romantic.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gosford, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2011

We rented the chalet on the water plus adjacent rooms for our family of 8 in July. Accommodation was very clean and owners went out of their way to make our stay comfortable. Great family location if you want to be close to town yet have access to water , the lagoon is just there. Surprised to have some basic breakfast supplies to keep you going until you get a chance to do your own shopping. Everything you need is within walking distance.

Room Tip: The chalet on the water is best. You can wake up with the sun over the lagoon and have breakfast on...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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christchurch
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2011 via mobile

he practically yelled at us. At first glance the place looked good. But as we (girl friend and I) were trying to clarify our bookings, the owner took it that we're bargaining, and started to relate us to the previous tenants who left without paying. That was very embarrassing and insulting for us. Then he yelled at us and even offered to book us a cab to leave. Good thing his wife came to diffuse the situation. There was also a stench of alcohol in his breath.

We didn't sleep well fearing he might barge into our room at night wanting us to leave or do something nasty.

Otherwise I think the rooms are well equipped. :-) clean... And has a beautiful garden. If you can put up with the service that is...

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2011

Our group of 6 adults rented the Seachange Lodge, 2 bedroom 2 bathroom, Garden Cottage for 2 nights in June 2011.

Bedding was a queen, two singles and a futon double bed. All bedding was clean and comfortable, except I would recommend Seachange upgrade the futon double bed with a better sofa bed as it was a little too basic. The cottage presented very well and the owners were helpful to explain the area and answer our questions about, well, anything really.

Property: beautiful gardens, a small pool with amazing view and a jetty with watercraft for use. Also within walking distance is a supermarket and a terrific french restaurant.

All up a good stay and we'd go back again :)

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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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Additional Information about Seachange Lodge

Address: Captain Cook Avenue, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Efate > Port Vila
Amenities:
Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 30 Specialty Lodging in Port Vila
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A truly special place for special people, with an ambience you can't buy. Six units tucked away in an exotic tropical garden. It’s like visiting a friend's house instead of being in a commercial resort. From the Waterside Chalet, to the Garden Cottage that is ideal for two couples or a family group, to the single room studios, the care to detail makes Seachange Lodge that very special place. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Seachange Lodge Vanuatu/Port Vila

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