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“Fantastic place if you have realistic understanding and expectations of Vanuatu”

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Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort
Ranked #12 of 15 Hotels in Espiritu Santo
Certificate of Excellence
Australia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Fantastic place if you have realistic understanding and expectations of Vanuatu”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2009

Santo is not an island with shopping and entertainment. You go here to see unspoiled scenery, to dive, snorkel, relax and get away from it all. Coral Quays is a great place to do this. Family friendly (there were two small children in our group), but not kids-oriented, so adults can have a good (and/or quiet) time too.

The rooms are all individual bungalows, surrounded by lush greenery. They are not American-style luxurious (nothing in Vanuatu is, unless you want to stay at Le Meridien or other corporate hotel chains, and then you might as well be anywhere). Bathroom fixtures will be older and the towels won't be fluffy and fabric-softened. But the rooms are very clean, perfectly comfortable and well maintained. Ours was fan-cooled, and we were plenty cool enough. And don't underestimate the value of free wireless internet at this property (if you have a laptop). It's decent speed (but not super fast). In Vila, the internet was phenominally expensive, when you could get it at all!

The resort is a way from town, which we were concerned about in terms of eating and getting to and from various activities. We almost immediately forgot those concerns when we arrived and realised how self-contained the resort was.

The onsite restaurant served dinners rivalling some of the nicer restaurant meals I've had anywhere in the world (and I travel almost 50% of the time for business in the US and Europe). It's a relaxed outside setting, and unlike Vila there are few if any mosquitoes. Prices are roughly the same as eating out in Australia - about $25 for a main meal and around $9-10 for dessert. As beef is a huge part of Santo's (and indeed Vanuatu's) farming production, it's extremely high quality and the main feature of most menus. Of course there's also lovely seafood and chicken.

We ate all three meals each day at the restaurant. Breakfast is the weak link. Continental breakfast is included in room rate, but is little more than rather unceremoniously presented cereal and toast. That said, you can purchase a decent cooked breakfast for less than $10. Lunch and dinner were terrific every day. Good spread of menu selections for both kids and adults, and they were generally happy to customise meals for the kids when asked.

We organised an outing, through the hotel, to visit the Blue Hole - an excellent trip at a very reasonable price. The divers in our party also organised several dives on the Coolidge, again at a reasonable price and with superb service. Others in our party stayed and snorkelled off the hotel's pier, where the tropical fish abound. And everyone enjoyed the pool throughout our stay.

Service is Pacific-style. If you book a massage for 9am, it's probably not going to start until more like 9.30am or even later (and while my massage was relaxing enough and not bad value for $40, it wasn't amazing). Some days your dinner will take a while to arrive. Other days it will arrive in standard time. On all days, it will be delicious.

I usually prefer more upmarket accommodation and will admit to dreading this portion of the family holiday (I didn't organise it) when I was told about it. But I was delightfully surprised.

I get frustrated with reviewers who pan places like Coral Quays for not providing good enough service. Don't go to the Pacific if you want obsequious service and American-style uniformity. Or if you want that, choose an air-conditioned, sterile bubble at a big hotel in Port Vila. Coral Quays was a lovely aspect on the culture and the place that is Santo - laid back, relaxed, high quality food and nice, private accommodation. The service was variable, from superb to decent, but you have to remember that in the Pacific. Nobody will ever be rude or unhelpful. They just may not always move at breakneck rat-race speed. If you want that, why come here?

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank antipodienne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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123 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Massapequa, New York
Level Contributor
25 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 2, 2008

I found Coral Quays to be between Average and Above Average.

My bungalow was nice & was made up every day (except for New Year’s Day, but that was OK). I had AC, but I don't like it so I didn’t use it, and I don't remember my travel agent saying anything about it costing extra. Oh damn, I forgot to tell the owners the fan only worked on high & low. Not that it mattered, with the humidity, high was just fine.

I showed my room to several other divers I'd met who were staying at other resorts (Unity Park Motel & Le Nemo) & they all said my accommodations were MUCH nicer. Then again, I was paying for it... but at least I felt like I got what I paid for.

I was rarely on-premises during the day as I was off diving with Aquamarine (more on that later). The one day I was there, the owner's kids & friends were playing in the pool but they were not disruptive. However, had they been, I'm sure if I had said something to the owners, Char & Phil, they would have been responsive.

At first Char & Phil did not greet me like I have found owners do in some other resorts in other places. However, after being there a few days, they were quite friendly, in fact, I ended up spending my last nite there out on the porch with Char until the wee hours. The staff was always friendly. Island time, yes, but very accommodating.

The food was Sydney/NY priced, but it was quite good. The steak was AWESOME. I thought the portions of any dish I had or what I was ordered were adequate - not too much, but not too little. And was able to bring my leftovers back to my room as it had a fridge. One nite I ate at the Deco Stop Resort & that was quite good as well. The other divers I met staying there said the quality of food was inconsistent, but my meal was nice and the portion was good.

The atmosphere at Coral Quays reminded me of a live-aboard dive boat. After cleaning up after diving, I'd usually go to the lounge with my dive log, computer & camera to download my photos & record the day's dives. Oh, and my books to study b/c I was taking Advanced Nitrox & Deco Procedures & had homework! LOL! Everyone who I'd been diving with that day would trickle in & after drinks, invariably we'd end up moving tables together & all having dinner together. I was travelling alone & am accustomed to being alone, but the atmosphere was very inclusive. Maybe b/c of who was there & the fact it was Xmas/New Years? Don't know, but I found the atmosphere very nice. Santo is a low key place, no "night life" to speak of, so it was pleasant to hang out in a friendly, safe atmosphere.

The resort threw the only party in town for New Year's Eve. Everyone I had met came to the party plus a whole batch of expats and the Chinese owners of the shops in town. The resort charged me to attend! I thought that was wrong. Of course, I didn't find that out until after I was home. My bad for not looking at the bill closer at checkout. Anyway, it was a good party!

The only other thing I can say about the Coral Quays is that it is far out of town, so you are dependent on the resort. However, taxis are fairly easy to come by and are about $3.50 AUD each way. If you have good timing, you probably could get a lift from one of the dive shops on their usual runs.

I'd recommend staying at Coral Quays.

Aquamarine was great to dive with. Very accommodating & safety minded. In fact, they were extremely safety minded, but better that than the other way. Can't argue with their safety record. The courses I took were well run and informative.

  • Liked — It was quiet and friendly.
  • Disliked — It was far from everything.
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank nicsim1012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cavesbeach
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 20, 2007

I was surprised to read the review complaining of the treatment and everything else about the resort. January was my second visit and I have nothing but praise for the friendly staff, excellent restaurant, room service, the list goes on. My wife and I have spent 35 years travelling around the world and like the man who bought gillette we loved the place so much we have invested into the most beautiful island in the world. Please don't be put off by someone who may have a bad time or was not so impressed by the very laid back genre. So don't just take my word for it, go and see for yourself.

Stayed January 2007
Helpful?
4 Thank brickandjudy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2007

The entire week we stayed at the resort we were ignored by staff and management and in generally were extremely disappointed with the resort.

As a side to this we had an absolutely "amazing" time diving on the SS President Coolidge and Million Dollar Point with the Allan Power Dive crew (see below under diving for futher details).

Airport Transfer and Arrival:
After getting off the plane there was no one to meet us (even though we confirmed numerous times with management for our hotel/airport transfers). Luckily after waiting some time, the bus driver Luke happened to be passing by the airport and someone pointed him out to us as the transfer driver to Coral Quays (even though his bus said Paradise Tours).

On arrival at the resort we were not shown where to go, we were literally dumped at the back car park. We wondered up to the reception dragging along all our bags. A girl at reception handed us a form and told us to fill it in and bring it back and showed us to our Fare.

Accommodation:
The little bungalow was clean and nice (and we had paid extra for airconditioning which was fantastic) but there was no welcome book or explanation of how things worked. So we did not know what time reception hours were, what time breakfast was served, how to get into town, how to book tours etc. There was also no kitchenette, microwave or toaster (which wouldn't normally be a problem if the resort meals were at a reasonable price...see below under restaurant for further details).

House Keeping:
We have absolutely no idea why, but twice in our week stay house keeping decided not to make up our room (and we were paying top dollar for our accommodation). They just put 2 clean towels by the front door and that was it. On a third day we saw them leaving the towel by the front door again and my husband asked if they were going to make up the room and only after asking did they actually come and do it (we are sure if we hadn't spotted them they wouldn't have come in again!!).


Staff:
We would often go to reception and find no one around. After waits of up to 10 minutes, a staff member would amble past and you would have to chase them to ask your question. The staff would often look at you and not know what you were talking about. For example my husband had asked for a bucket of ice as he had injured his knee as needed to ice it, and numerous times the staff would (after much huffing and puffing that you has disturbed their conversation with other staff members, even though you had been waiting 10 minutes to talk) say there was no ice bucket even though we had used it the day before. The whole experience was like pulling teeth. You were left feeling like you were afraid to ask them for anything.
One night at dinner the barman/waiter looked like he was going to punch on with my husband because the table candle kept blowing out from the wind (I think the barman thought my husband kept blowing it out).
If this is sounds far-fetched and unbelievable.....I want to confirm that it was to us too! We just couldn't understand the reason for our cold treatment. We have travelled all over the world (including 4 months backpacking through Africa) and are always pleasant, courteous and respectful of others cultures and ways of life. We were also on our honeymoon, so on the whole we were cheerful, enthusiastic and tried our absolute best to be engaging and friendly. We had also spent the prior week in Vila and had made great friends with some of the locals and even spent a day with the village head-master donating sporting equipment to the local village and going out for Cava to his local Nakamal.


Restaurant:
We were very surprised to see the menu at Coral Quays for dinner as the prices were very high (all main meals equated to well over AUD$20 - even for pasta meals). As there were no kitchenettes or shared kitchen facilities we had little to no choice where to eat on our first night so decided to splurge and pay the high prices. With such high prices we were expecting either fine cuisine or really large serves, and on both accounts we were greatly disappointed. The serves were small and the food was very average.
Another night we were so tired from all the diving, that we didn't have the strength to go into town so ate at the restaurant again. We ordered prawns....fatal mistake! On biting into the prawns they were off, smelly and the consistency of mash potatoes. Luckily we managed to spit them out before they gave us a severe case of food poisoning. After waiting 15 minutes to try and catch a waiter or staff member, my husband had to walk into the kitchen to find someone. The chef (who was just a member of staff we had spotted a few days earlier sweeping around the pool) offered to bring us out a new batch we refused and asked for the item to be removed off the bill (as they never offered).

Facilities:
The pool looked quite nice, but most days had a sign on it saying it was closed. On the days it was open the manager's/owners young children and their friends were playing noisly in it so was very unappealing to guests. The resort also had a jetty out over the water, but the few days we wanted to use it, the owners were having parties of friends over so we were unalble to use it too.

Diving:
(organised totally seperately to the Coral Quays resort)
We dived with Allan Power and would thoroughly recommend them to anyone coming to Santo for a diving holiday. They were professional, their equipment was top rate and they were delighted to help you out, give you general advise about Santo and were excellent dive guides. When you arrive in town just pop into the shop/house and sort it all out from there or visit their website.

Overall:
We had a great time in Santo diving with Allan Powers but absolutely no credit for this goes to Coral Quays. I firmly beleive that this resort should 'not' be classified as a resort at all and should not be charging 'top end' prices. The service, food, facilities and extras were of a "Back-packer" level and should be charged out as such.
If we were charged back-packer rates for accommodation and food we would have been happy with the level of service, but at current rates our stay with them was a huge disappointment.
If you are looking for some where to stay in Santo I would recommend either Beachfront or Deco Stop as we ate at these places many nights and checked out their accommodation and they are much better value for money.

  • Liked — The Airconditioning (which you have to pay extra for)
  • Disliked — Staff & Owners neglectful attitude and service & the Over Charging
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
10 Thank Masaimaraskism
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort

Property: Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort
Address: Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Espiritu Santo
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Espiritu Santo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 18
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Also Known As:
Coral Quays Fish & Dive Hotel Espiritu Santo
Coral Quays Fish And Dive Resort
Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort Vanuatu/Espiritu Santo

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