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“Great place to stay”

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Grand Hotel And Casino
Ranked #21 of 47 Hotels in Port Vila
Certificate of Excellence
Brisbane
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great place to stay”
Reviewed August 22, 2009

Sebel Vanuatu was a great place to stay. Perfect location, staff is very helpful. The restaurant is a bit pricey (as all the other restaurants in Port Vila) and doesn't have too much variety but just hop onto the free ferry and within 5 minutes you will be on Iririki Island where you have more to chose from otherwise just a short walk to numerous restaurants in Port Vila.
Only a small pool but if you chose to stay and relax in Vila rather than looking around on Efate or go for a trip you can use all the facilities on Iririki Island (pools, kayak, snorkelling gear etc).

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank VigiGday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Tasmania, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2009

We wanted a couple of days close to the centre of Port Vila before moving out to a more isolated resort, and the Sebel turned out to be perfect for this. It is a fairly new building on the water’s edge in the centre of town, within easy walking distance of the shops, restaurants and market. It turns out to be the only modern building in what is a rather tired town centre, and at 6 floors is easily the tallest.

The hotel is typical of a good 4-star property with the added bonuses of some island charm and great views across Port Vila harbour. We found the staff to be friendly, enthusiastic and competent. Our midnight arrival was no problem – the hotel has 24-hour reception and there was still plenty of activity around the bar and casino area. There was a conference happening at the hotel and overall the guests seemed to be about 50/50 business and leisure travellers.

All of the rooms have balconies with a table and chairs, and full views across the harbour. We booked a Panorama room, which is larger than the standard rooms and also wraps around the end of the hotel to give views across town and inland. The room was large, fully equipped and clean, which is just as you’d expect from the Sebel brand. Air-conditioning was very effective and quiet. The breakfast buffet was included in the room rate, and again was as good as you’d expect it to be, with a satisfying range of fruits, cereals, juices and bakery. There was a chef on hand to do eggs any way you want them for an extra 900 vatu (about AUD$11).

Port Vila has plenty of good restaurants within walking distance so we didn’t have any other meals at the Sebel. During our relatively short stay we sampled Iririki, Chill and El Gecko. We recommend them all, plus there are a lot more places that we didn’t have time for. Walking back through the town late in the evening was not a problem.

One of the nice features of the Sebel, particularly for leisure travellers, is the relationship with the nearby Iririki resort. Sebel guests have free access to all resort facilities, plus a charge-back arrangement for drinks and meals. Iririki is on an island in Port Vila harbour and is serviced by a free ferry between the town and the island. The ferry will detour via the Sebel on request. There is a small jetty next to the swimming pool; just stand there and the ferry will come to get you. At night there is a button by the jetty that activates a signal light to attract the ferry. The ferry runs continuously 24-hours and takes about 5 minutes each way, so you’ll usually wait no more than 10 minutes. Iririki Island was a great place for sunset drinks on the deck.

Overall we’d recommend the Sebel highly for either business or leisure. It’s an excellent location for exploring Port Vila on foot, or as a base for day trips to some of the islands tourist attractions. It is a hotel and not a resort, and does not have a beach or activities programme so is perhaps not best suited for longer stays, particularly for children.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Marcus_and_Wendy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2009

First of all let me say Vanuatu is a great holiday location for NZ'ers and Australians especially. We travelled from Auckland and the three hour flight seemed to take no time.

It's been a particularly harsh winter in New Zealand so it was nice to get into something approaching 30c temperatures. This is the dry season and for the most part our week in Vila was dry, though do expect if you're staying a week it will rain at some stage. The locals always say it's wet before Independence Day (30 July).

The Sebel Hotel itself is very well located. Port Vila's not a big town and the Sebel is at the far end of the Lini 'highway', past all the shops and other things. Most eateries around the twon are no more than about 5-10 minutes walk, while the hotel has a ferry dock to head over to Iririki Island which is a great location and offers charge back facilities for Sebel guests (dangerous if you're ordering cocktails!).

The hotel is clean and well laid out, pool area is nice though it would seem a lot of people head over to Iriiriki to use the pool facilities there (bigger and more kid friendly and ferry service is free). There's a casino which hardly anybody seems to use, while Crystals restaurant is nice if a little pricey. Note that continental breakfast is included in most stays and is very good, you also have that at Crystals. Hemisphere Bar on level 6 is good but make sure you go Friday night for happy hour 5-7 and to meet a few of the expat characters (and a few locals).

I personally felt some of the Sebels pricing, especially on drinks, to be a little top heavy. The majority of the guests are obviously Australian and i think it's priced for that market. To give you an example were you to order a local Tusker beer at the pool bar (nice beer but not an import and nothing earth shattering) it's 660VT. That converts to NZD$11.

If it was priced at even NZD$7-8 a beer I probably would have ordered a few but as it is I bought the same thing from the bottle shop accross the road for a lot cheaper. Lost income for the Sebel as I saw heaps of Aussies in there as well doing the same thing!

Rooms are of a good size and the housekeeping staff are lovely. There werre a couple of small areas in the bathroom I felt needed a bit more spit and polish but nothing to really complain about. Bed comfortable.

As far as food is concerned we went to a few places....

Waterfront - Lovely location but I didn't think the food was great and expensive
Au Peche Mignon - On the main drag in town and very popular with the tourists. Good food, well priced, and some lovely pastries.
Iririki (Bali Hai Bar & Michener') - Didn't eat in Michener's but found the food, service, and cocktails at Bali Hai to be of a very good standard. Rick (one of the barstaff, see picture) was excellent value and even though tipping isn't standard in Vanuatu gave him a few Vatu for the family as he was excellent, always wanted to find out about our day.
Office Pub/Flaming Bull Steakhouse - Best steak I had in Vila. Pub's a bit dark but the steakhouse is a great family restaurant. About 10 minutes wak from the Sebel.
Vietnamese Restaurant - Again on the main drag. Good value, excellent menu, and food was superb. Try the sweet and sour beef. Never empty.

Tours - Only did the one, to Lelepa Island on the West coast of Efate. About $130 per person so not cheap but a whole day and you get to do two sessions of snorkelling, there's a good bush walk, good to see a local village, and they show you where Survivor was filmed. Albert runs these tours and is a real character. We struck some real weather on the boat ride around to the village and the local water taxi's are pretty shallow so expect some excitement it the waves pick up. also, try and get some tuition on snorkelling because it does make a real difference to know how to snorkel before you go to some of these sites. tour starts around 9, through to about 4. As an aside, the bar at Iririki frequently has happy hour raffles for 2 for 1's on these trips so if you're there grab a ticket. Happy hour @ Bali Hai between 5-6 and good specials (especially if you want cocktails).

Standard set taxi fare into town from the airport is 1500VT.

Shops in town are OK, nothing to write home about and probably better to visit the ladies selling trinkets and sarongs etc in the park.

Finally, locals are lovely and always quick with a small, Port Vila is a safe place, and Sundays EVERYTHING, apart from the resorts is closed.

Cash wise I'd budget about NZD$100 per person per day.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Elbankos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed June 29, 2009

My husband and I have just returned from 7 nights at The Sebel. The hotel would have to be the best location in Port Vila, as it is centrally located in town, has fantastic facilities (including the latest in gym equipment) and is on the water's edge with spectacular views. We stayed on the 5th floor (there's 6) - and we did request a high level with our reservation.

After reading previous reviews we were a bit concerned about the size of the room - however, we thought they were totally unfounded, as they were normal room size with a king size bed (two singles joined together). The rooms were clean and the bathroom well maintained.

Each room has a verandah with 180 degree views which encapsulates the town, Iririki Island resort, and the bay. It was magical to sit there each evening having a drink and watching the sunset over the water listening to the ambient music (from the pool area) in the background. A lot of entertainment was provided by the local water taxi area nearby and the local wharf precinct. Take a pair of binoculars with you!

The staff at the hotel are exceptional, very friendly and professional in their duties and service provision, and cannot do enough to assist you.

Crystal's Restaurant - food was also exceptional with a good wine list. You must try the Eye Fillet - it is the famous organic Santo Beef produced on the island. It really is the very best you will ever eat!! We did not go but there were themed dinners eg curry night and a BBQ night , but a la carte was still available.

The continental breakfast was included in our stay and there was a selection of fresh fruits, yoghurts, cereals, juices, cold meats & cheese, and an array of beautiful pastries made on the premises. Cooked eggs were an option.

Because of it's location it was a 2 minute walk downtown to the supermarket or market where you can buy a bunch of fresh bananas for 150Vatu (approx $1.50). The local buses are so easy to catch - they have a B on their number plate and will deliver you to your location for 150Vatu. Taxis have a T on their number plate and cost a minimum 300Vatu. Both forms of transport come to you - you only have to stand on the side of the road and they will stop if hailed - there is a constant stream of them.

The free ferry to Irikiki Island resort stops at The Sebel and is very easy to access - you only have to walk down the steps near the pool and press the flashing light button and the ferry will call in on it's next run (it goes continually 24 hours a day).

We are really pleased to have stayed at the Sebel, as it gave us flexibility in our exploring and eating options, as we were centrally located to a number restaurants, it was easy to walk to them - although you need to be careful of the broken roads and footpaths. Other places we ate included:

La Tentation (Rossi village complex) - on the waterfront, up from Numbawan market area. We ate lunch there a couple of times. An upmarket venue which has only been opened less than 2 weeks and is doing a brisk trade with repeat customers. Nick is the owner and is really providing some great food and wine options, including tapas from 3pm onwards. Good wine list. Highly recommended.

Le Cafe Du Village - next door to the Sebel. A delightful little french themed restaurant on the waterfront. One of the few BYOs. Good food.

The Waterfront Bar & Grill - only about 100ms up from the Sebel on the waterfront, where all the yachties are based. This was one of our favourites. Low key, but you need to book. Live music and the food is great value and fabulous. The fish was fresh and cooked to perfection - again good steaks. Here I fell in love with the tahitian fish salad (ceviche) as an entree - fresh fish 'cooked' in lime juice and coconut milk and served in a fresh coconut shell. Yum!!

Vietnamese Daily Snack - great for lunch and they serve the Vermicelli Rice Salads.

Au Peche Mignon - ate the mushroom pizza as recommended in the Lonely Planet. Was good as expected. Must visit to see the pastry selections alone!! All made on the premises.

Wild Ginger at Le Lagon Resort - we had the Teppanyaki. Was nice, but not as good as we have experienced elsewhere. Worth visiting, as it's decor and setting is beautiful.

Tilly's at Chantilly's - another memorable meal. Ask for a waterfront table - it's worth it to watch the fish. Jodie is the manager and she provides an excellent service. Great lady! Highly recommended. They also provide a free wifi connection in the bar lounge area.

Starfish - very trendy in it's style and again on the waterfront. A little way out of town, but you can catch the bus or a taxi. Food was nice, but not exceptional. Staff were very attentive.

Tamanu - worth the trip out of town. About 15 minutes. Not only does this destination provide the finest fine food in the region, but also has five charming beach cottages providing the most secluded and romantic escape you will ever find. We had lunch there and the food was the best we had eaten in all of the week. Very highly recommended. Geraldine the owner, is also the mother of Nick at La Tentation. We are definitely going to return and stay - see www.tamanu.vu

Bali Hai Restaurant & Cafe at Irikiki Island Resort. Nice setting, but food was nothing to return for. Pleased we were not staying there.

The Thai Restaurant at the Melanesian - didn't go, but well regarded and recommended.
Harbourview Chinese Restaurant - didn't go, but well regarded and recommended
Chill - didn't go to but heard from others that it was not that great.

Sightseeing - we employed a taxi driver (cheaper than organised tours, and they go to the same places). Had a great day. Don't recommend visiting the Bluewater Island Resort for feeding the sharks and turtles - a bit of a rip off - has been let go and has fallen into a neglected state.

Money - we took cash and exchanged at either Goodies Money Exchange or Seven Eleven (opposite the Sebel). Very easy, their rates are the best in town. No charges. There are ANZ ATMs everywhere (including The Sebel). Warning - all credit card transactions incur a 3% charge.

Internet - do you remember when you used to have an ADSL slow service? It still exists, nowhere is it fast. Be patient.

TV - Channels ABC, 7, 9 & SBS come form Perth and is 2 hours behind. Also there is Imparja TV (Channel 9) from Alice Springs, but does provide the Qld news and is only 1 hour behind. Keep all of the times in mind as Vanuatu is 1 hour ahead.

Massage - one of the main activities we focused on as we went for time out!! Forget the expensive spas in the resorts. Instead we found 2 options - much cheaper. The Lotus Health & Beauty - you can google it for a menu ( I emailed them for appointments before we left Brisbane), was fantastic and we both enjoyed a remedial massage there - very professional. I also had the BEST ever Deluxe Facial (ask for Helen) on the morning of our departure - I'm still glowing!! The other option was The View Hair & Beauty Salon about 150ms up the road from the Sebel (opposite the Waterfront Bar & Grill). Nothing flash to look at and is run by a Korean woman who speaks little english. However, Anita (a Ni-Vanuatu lady) does the most amazing therapeutic massages - so good we returned again. She's not as professional as Lotus, but worth the experience. They also have free internet access which is a great value-add, especially if you go in pairs, so one can be using the unlimited internet access whilst the other is having their 60 minute massage.

Alcohol - there is a good selection of Australian wines and spirits available everywhere. Duty free, we bought 1L JW Scotch for A$18 and 1LAbsolut Vanilla Vodka for A$20. Worth hunting around for. There is a grog shop about 50 ms up the road from the Sebel with a great selection of Australian and NZ wines. Opens around 8.30am

Duty Free - be aware that shops are closed from 12.30pm on Saturday until Monday morning. If you are flying out on Monday you won't be able to buy on Monday because it has to go out to the airport.

Definitely will return.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Jellat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buderim, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
22 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed April 28, 2009

My daughter and I spent five days at the Sebel Port Vila. We were in Vanuatu to attend my sister's wedding at Iririki Island. I booked Melanesian Tours for our airport transfers to and from the Sebel ...also some tours of the Island... and they did a fantastic job. After the first day I knew my decision to choose the Sebel was the correct one.

Position, beautiful new hotel, service and friendly staff...all were outstanding. The hotel is in the centre of Port Vila so we were just a hop, step and jump from everything.
Our room was on the third floor. The rooms are small but that did not bother us. Our room was serviced by Everlyn who bent over backwards to please us. Frazer at the front door was full of fun and helped us with our tour bookings. The dining staff were wonderful and we enjoyed a free breakfast as part of our package. The steak sandwich was great for a snack by the pool. We went to happy hour in the Hemisphere lounge bar and had the best cocktail. You must try a "Sebel Sensation". Delicious French pastries and cakes were available in the glass cabinet next to the elevator. By the end of the five days most of the wedding guests from other accommodations were joining us for dinner at our hotel.

My daughter and I had a wonderful time in Port Vila and this was mainly due to our stay at the Sebel. We were treated like family ...and it's hard to say good-bye to family.

  • Stayed April 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Marleneann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
George Town, Tasmania
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2009

We stayed at the sebel for 5 nights on our recent trip to Vanuatu. I was really really impressed with the accommodation and the staff. The rooms were immaculate, they were serviced daily and it was never a drama to get fresh towels.

The whole hotel has a new fresh feel to it, unlike the appearance of some of the other hotels in the area. The pool area as lovely and clean - and as for island time i dont think it really applied at the Sebel, we never had to wait for a thing. Breakfast was included daily as part of our package, with a nice selection of fresh local fruits and the freshest french baked breads and treats - yummo!

We dined in the restaraunt one evening - i had the beef - it was about $40aud but the meal was well worth every mouthfull - it was delicious and by the looks of other meals coming from the kitchen, they werent small in size!

We went to the 6th floor to the lounge (name escapes me) and had the best cocktail whilst watching the sunset and a cruise ship going out - what a way to end the day!!!!

the free ferry runs you over to irriki, the hotel its self is right on the main strip

Would definately stay there again and would recommend it to anyone! It really is on par with a 4-5 star resort here in australia.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Kateisturning30soon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level 5 Contributor
64 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2009

My husband and I stayed for 7 nights and were very happy with the Sebel. Rooms were lovely, we were on the 4th floor harbour view deluxe room. Our room was made up every morning and it was no problem to ask for extra towels etc.

We spoke with other people staying at other resorts who complained of 'slow island service" however we only experienced top A1 service at the Sebel whether it was ordering a drink by the pool or restaurant service, we found the staff most efficient, friendly and very good english skills.

Frazer, Steven, Pieter and Carlos were wonderful and would fit in well in any top Sydney hotel.

We used Irikis' facilities (beach, pool, restaurant, sport equipment, day spa) all very good, although I would not have used there accommodation.

The Sebel is in the heart of Port Vila and is close to restaurants, duty free shops etc.

All our activities were arranged by Frazer and it all transfers etc went off like clockwork.

If we go to Vanutau would definately stay at Sebel again.

  • Liked — The wonderful staff and hotel
  • Disliked — Going Home
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank CoralSt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Hotel And Casino

Property: Grand Hotel And Casino
Address: Lini Highway, Port Vila, Efate 0001, Vanuatu (Formerly Sebel Vanuatu)
Location: Vanuatu > Efate > Port Vila
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#8 Spa Hotel in Port Vila
#12 Luxury Hotel in Port Vila
#17 Family Hotel in Port Vila
#20 Romantic Hotel in Port Vila
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Grand Hotel And Casino 4*
Number of rooms: 74
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Grand Hotel And Port Vila
Sebel Vanuatu Port Vila
Grand Hotel And Casino Vanuatu/Port Vila

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