Sam Aldred checks into the Holiday Inn, Vanuatu.

Getting there:

A three-hour flight from Auckland, followed by an easy 20-minute ride from the downbeat Port Vila airport and a painless check-in at at a rather more painful 1am.

Who's staying? Antipodeans with a few Europeans in the mix and families; small ones, big ones, extended ones, most having a break, a few about to break. For those travelling without (or mid-break) there is a secluded kid-free area with a large pool.

What's for breakfast? A view of the rather lovely Erakor lagoon and pretty much whatever you like. Fresh fruit, eggs, pastries, a full English if you've the stomach, and enough coffee to take on the 4-year-old at tennis.


The room: Was a twin, separated by an adjoining door with all the basics done right - big comfortable beds, good air conditioning, good showers. There are bungalows over the water for those wanting to wake up to the ocean and specific family rooms for those co-habitating with older (more annoying) teenagers or tween children.

To do: Paddle in the lagoon, play in the pool(s), practise your boule or absolutely nothing (if you must), but the star of the show is Vanuatu itself and there are multiple options to get out and explore the beautiful island of Efate.

Perfect for: Those looking for a happy, family-friendly base to explore Port Vila and Efate. A good option for multi-generational getaways with activities to suit all. There are bars and restaurants nearby to escape when the kids/grandkids/in-laws get too much.

The lobby of the Holiday Inn, Vanuatu.
The lobby of the Holiday Inn, Vanuatu.

Do ...

eat all the breakfast, let the kids run wild on the beach and then head off for a day's adventure. Get back for a sundowner by the pool.

Don't ... leave all your kids' swimming togs by the pool when you leave. Hats off to the friendly and efficient hotel team who parcelled them up and sent them on with postcards attached.