Shandelle Battersby checks in to Iririki Island Resort and Spa, Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Getting there:

Once the site of the British hospital, Iririki is named for the pretty island that it entirely occupies, in the middle of Port Vila Harbour. A free 24-hour ferry transports you from Vanuatu's main island of Efate over to Iririki in less than five minutes. It's a brilliant way to arrive at a hotel. The entire trip we barely waited for more than two minutes for the ferry to arrive. Transport to your room with your bags is via large, brand-new golf buggies - there are no cars on the island's narrow roads.

Check-in experience: We were met at the jetty, led to the spic-and-span lobby and given a cold towel and drink while we checked in. The resort reopened in May following an extensive renovation after Cyclone Pam wrought havoc last March, and now there are 139 brand new rooms in a range of styles, from waterfront fares to self-contained apartments. Iririki aims to be eco-friendly and there are solar panels and a farm that supplies the kitchens.

Room: A comfortable and spacious Island Fare, with tropical-style furnishings including timber floors and mosquito screens, plenty of fresh flowers dotted throughout, a balcony with lounger, small fridge and satellite TV with free in-house movies. We were the first people to stay in this room, which is pretty cool.


Price: Online packages for around $350 a night.

What's in the neighbourhood? Port Vila's vibrant waterfront, with lots of bars, eateries and shops is directly opposite. Day tours are also easily accessible, and the airport is only 6km away.

Toiletries: Iririki's own brand.

Food and drink: There are choices for different budgets on the island, including Azure (high-end, local food with an international twist, where breakfast is also served), Infinity (poolside, more casual), Jewel (Asian dishes), Sunset (by the family pool, also casual) and Snorkeler's Cove (beachside). All use seasonal, organic produce including Santo beef and fresh fish.

Room service? Yes, 24 hours a day.

The bed: We had king-split beds, which were nice and firm, with lovely linen.

Bathroom: Huge, with a walk-in rain shower. A few drainage issues were swiftly dealt with by staff. The leaf-shaped deep brown basins are a real feature.

Noise: Only from the air con. If that's too loud, there's also a ceiling fan shaped like a flower.

Free Wi-Fi: Yes, resort-wide, with no limit.

Keep an eye out for: Stevens, the resort cat, named for Cat Stevens. He's adorable and enjoys a pat.

Exercise facilities: There's a gym, tennis courts, beach volleyball and soccer set-ups, a watersports centre that lends out kayaks, catamarans and snorkel gear, and a huge pool complex for families with a swim-up bar (plus a beautiful infinity pool by the main restaurant). You can even learn to scuba dive on site.

Other facilities: We shouted ourselves a treatment at the resort's new spa on the island's peak - you can get everything from volcanic mud and salt wraps to hair braiding. We tried the Heaven and Earth hot stone massage with a complimentary express facial (divine) and a flowing rejuvenating massage with a complimentary pedicure (excellent). For families, there is a well-equipped games room, a playground, and kid's club. There's also a pretty serious casino, a wedding fare and a conference centre.

Perfect for: Anyone really - couples, families, groups of friends. It's a lovely resort in a really great spot - and how can you not love arriving at your island hotel by boat?