Explora Rapa Nui

LOCATION: The Explora Rapa Nui lodge is the only accommodation on Easter Island outside the sole town, Hanga Roa.

LOCATION: The Explora Rapa Nui lodge is the only accommodation on Easter Island outside the sole town, Hanga Roa. This deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a six-hour flight from Santiago Chile, (to which the island belongs), has a higher population of horses than people, and is famous principally for its moai – huge stone statues carved by tribes 600 year ago. With a history this eerie and atmospheric, staying in a lodge tucked away on its own is a real plus. There’s no need to be in town – Hanga Roa is easily visited in an hour and is only minutes away.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The lodge sits alone, tucked into the brow of a hill and almost invisible until you’re on top of it. Glazed curves look to the sea; inward-facing walls are slatted wood. Clever alignment means that once inside your room – a symphony in slate, wood and linen – you’re unaware of any neighbours. But if you don’t want to feel detached, well, the double sided bar, the expansive lounge and the crescent-shaped restaurant serving gourmet food are all friendly places, with fellow guests gathering to recount their adventures of the day.

THE FACTS: All 26 rooms and four suites look to the sea, with wide window-ledges upholstered with cushions and bolsters so you can recline and contemplate the view. Bright linens set off the earth tones of the room, and roughly hewed pine trunks divide the bedroom area from the double basin vanity units.The main lodge houses a lounge, bar and restaurant, and it’s here that most people gather, rather than spending hours in their rooms. Drinks are included in the full board room rates and so flow freely, and communal excursions make for easy bonding between groups. The food is of a very high standard, with buffet breakfasts and three-course dinners offering plenty of choice. Guests can taste local fish hooked out of the sea, but almost everything else is imported so Chilean beef and lamb feature heavily too. The wines available by the glass as part of the package are excellent quality though premium bottles and champagne are on offer for an extra charge if clients require something specific.A short walk from the main lodge is the outdoor swimming pool, with a solar heated Jacuzzi and bar.

A GOOD BASE FOR: Ticking off all Easter Island’s sights in the most exclusive way possible, including visiting the quarry where the huge stone moai were made at Rano Raraku, the volcanic crater of Rano Kau and the nearby village of the birdmen, climbing to the island’s highest point, taking boat and snorkeling trips, and seeing all the most significant groups of moai. The quality of guiding is superlative, and everything from vehicles to snorkel equipment is high quality.

WOW: During a full day excursion, our ‘picnic’ lunch turned out to be a barbecue served by chefs in full whites, set up under canopied tents just metres from the crashing waves on a deserted stretch of coastline. Fresh salads, chargrilled meat and seafood, cold Austral beer and Chilean wine, fruit plates and chocolate cake for dessert – it was more garden party than picnic, and the guides had kept it a complete surprise.

HOW MUCH: A three-night package staying full board starts from US$2,415 twinshare. The rate includes excursions, meals, drinks and airport transfers.