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EXPERT REVIEW Marvel at monolithic stone heads on a visit to this eerie Polynesian island, then take refuge at this dramatic eco-luxury design hotel

Eco


Overall eco rating


Easter Island’s history is a lesson in environmental devastation. More than 400 years ago, transportation of the ancient moai atop tree trunks to ceremonial altars is believed to have led to the total deforestation of the island. The resulting food shortages brought about the rapid decline of the native Rapa Nui people.

Explora Rapa Nui’s biggest challenges are its remote location and rocky soil that is not suitable for many crops. According to the United Nations, Easter Island is the most remote, populated island in the world. The difficult agricultural situation means that many food items must be shipped from the mainland.

  • In-depth commitment to the native Rapa Nui people.
  • The first hotel in South America to attain LEED Certification.
  • On-site water purification program.
  • Re-usable stainless steel (BPA-free) water bottles used for explorations substantially reduces plastic waste.
  • On-site recycling center and activated sludge plant.
  • The lodge was constructed on land unsuitable for agricultural use.
  • Eco-friendly cleaning products used throughout the lodge.

  • Due to the remote location of Easter Island, the only way to get to the hotel is via a 5-hour flight from Santiago, Lima or Papeete.
  • Challenging agricultural conditions on the island mean few products are produced there and much must be shipped from the mainland.
  • Pine used in the construction process had to be shipped from the mainland because of the lack of trees on the island.

People

When it comes to support of the local community, explora Rapa Nui really shines. Their commitment to the native Rapa Nui and a belief that the people are the island’s greatest treasure is evident in every aspect of the lodge. In addition to donating money, explora management and staff freely donate both time and resources.

  • All 9 guides are native Rapa Nui and every effort is made to fill job openings with native Rapa Nui.
  • The lodge sponsors the annual Tapati festival on Easter Island. In addition to financial sponsorship, employees are encouraged to participate in the festival and given work schedule flexibility to accommodate rigorous rehearsal schedules.
  • Explora is the only hotel on the island that provides all meals for employees while they are working.
  • Pay is the island’s highest.
  • Training options can include visiting or training at other Explora lodges (Atacama and Patagonia) or even travel abroad to learn specific skills.
  • Supports a group that does monthly coastal clean-ups. Staff also participate in their own coastal clean-ups.
  • Sponsors local sporting events like rowing and surfing.
  • Hosts an annual elderly community lunch.

  • Management positions are largely filled by Chileans from South America, not Rapa Nui locals.

Animals & nature

The seas surrounding Rapa Nui are home to more than 150 species of marine wildlife, 25% of which can only be found in this corner of the world. Additionally, hundreds of wild horses and a wide variety of birds and fish that are not found on the mainland reside on Rapa Nui.

  • The lodge was constructed on land that is not suitable for agriculture and has no archaeological remains.
  • Native building materials like wood and volcanic stone feature prominently in the lodge’s design.
  • The paved footprint is just large enough to accommodate guest flow and is semi-permeable.
  • The flora surrounding the lodge remains undisturbed.
  • Explorations are designed to encourage guests to understand and appreciate the local geology, flora and fauna.

  • The island is quite small with rocky soil so there are few plants and trees. In fact, though some trees have been planted in recent decades, the island remains largely treeless.
  • The large number of wild horses further aggravates the agricultural situation as they will eat any accessible vegetation.

Environment & buildings

An on-site water treatment and purification plant enables water to be reused for watering or returned to natural waterways.  The architectural design maximizes the natural air flow eliminating the need for air conditioning. Explora’s environmental policy is continuously scrutinized for opportunities to reduce waste and improve recycling and reusing and all staff are involved.

  • An on-site water purification project has reduced the use of plastic and glass drinking bottles by 80%. All guests are given a refillable stainless steel (BPA-free) bottle to re-fill for excursions and fresh purified water in a glass pitcher is provided in rooms daily.
  • Though all rooms have cooling provided by chillers, the lodge’s design effectively incorporates natural sea breezes that make its use largely unnecessary.
  • Public spaces do not require heating or cooling due to their unique design.
  • A maintenance team constantly monitors energy use and continually find new ways to save.
  • In-room slippers feature a certified biodegradable sole generating less waste at the end of their life cycle. Used slippers are donated to schools.

  • Aside from the jacuzzi, none of the lodge’s hot water need is supplied by solar panels.
  • The lodge is not able to collect rainwater due to the dengue fever virus. This is monitored by local authorities.
  • Energy use, water use and carbon footprint per guest/per night are not monitored.

Reviewed by Jenny McIver and Tim Starley-Grainger


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


Easter Island seems almost impossibly remote, but once here (usually via a direct flight from Santiago, Chile), you’re in for an authentic, non-touristy experience, the likes of which you’ll find nowhere else in the world. Start with the 900 or so moai statues, which are randomly dotted along the fringes of the island, then get up close to the thousands of remarkably tame wild horses before heading back to the island’s most beautiful hotel, Explora Rapa Nui.

The scene

Encircled by miles of expansive countryside, but with ocean views, Easter Island luxury hotel Explora Rapa Nui (aka Posada de Mike Rapu) is easy to miss from the road. But this is one place you’ll want to find. Guests don’t stay at Explora just for the bedrooms. It’s all about the daily (and nightly) Easter Island ‘explorations’, led by knowledgeable guides. Each evening over pre-dinner cocktails, the guides explain the explorations available for the following day – all included in the cost of your stay - and help guests to plan their day based on their interests and fitness level. Trek up volcanoes, cycle to the moai, ride a boat along the coast or snorkel the crystal-clear waters.

  • Very much off-the-beaten track
  • Ocean views throughout the hotel
  • A max of eight people on each exploration, and all are included in the cost of your room
  • Nightly cocktail hour, shared meals and explorations make for a sociable scene

  • Located on the island’s interior, rather than near the charming main town or the beaches
  • No mobile-phone reception in this part of the island, and the free wifi is lethargic at best
  • Flights operate a few times a week rather than daily

The style

An architectural stunner, especially when seen from above, the circular building fans out like a spirograph, with the central area featuring the living room, reception, bar and restaurant, and the 30 guestrooms spiralling off, all with ocean views. Pale wood walls and ceilings bring the outdoors in, and the palette of cool neutrals is warmed up with vibrant pink, green and yellow splashes on duvets and cushions. The effect is soothing and stylishly homey.

  • The sleek design of the lodge blends seamlessly with the native landscape
  • Well-lit, comfortable rooms that offer luxury with a clean and simple style
  • The open flow of the public spaces and cool sea breezes
  • On the daily picnics, staff members create an ocean side experience that is just as simplistically-elegant as the lodge itself

  • Though the rooms are well-appointed, they are on the small side

The facilities

With only 26 rooms and 4 suites, the lodge easily retains a distinctly intimate feel, more like a private vacation home than a hotel. Though there is only one restaurant, the menu varies daily. With so many daily explorations on offer, the pool and jacuzzi get little use.

  • The chic design of the rooms and public spaces
  • Ocean views from every room mean there is no such thing as a bad room.
  • Hydromassage bath in every room
  • An expansive list of delightful Chilean wines included in the room price
  • The public areas are spacious and never feel crowded, even when the lodge is fully booked
  • The high quality of service in the dining room, bar and throughout the lodge
  • The entry fee to Rapa Nui National Park (which includes most of the island’s top archaeological sites) is included in the price
  • Bicycles available for guest use
  • Views of the ocean from the Hare Taheta massage bungalow help guests decompress after a day of hiking
  • The high quality of the lodge facilities extends to the explorations. From the use of walking sticks and safety gear to fresh strawberry juice after a hike.

  • No gym
  • Massage is the only spa service offered
  • No in-room internet access.
  • No in-room mini bar
  • Non-biting ants are occasionally seen in some rooms.

We love

  • The expert-led Easter Island explorations. The native Rapa Nui guides are the heart and soul of the Explora experience, and it’s all included in the price.
  • Explorations timed to avoid tour group schedules make you feel like you have the entire island to yourself
  • The impromptu first-class picnics organized by the staff, unlike any you’ve ever experienced
  • The cuisine – an abundance of fresh fish and local ingredients combine for a truly exceptional dining experience – morning, noon and night.
  • The weather. Easter Island enjoys sunny, warm weather year-round and the lodge’s design allows for maximum enjoyment of the mild island climate.

You might not love

  • Ants occasionally get into guestrooms
  • Limited internet access
  • No mobile phone service

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed by Jenny McIver www.RTWin30days.com


Explora Rapa Nui, Easter Island

Te Miro Oone S/N, Rapa Nui, Chile

Chile
+56 2 395 2801

Standard room rates from US$2,385 (3 nights)

Eco

Luxury*

"Its design whispers rather than shouts, gradually revealing itself as the latest iconic structure on one of the world’s most remote holiday destination. Its sinuous curls and swirls, echoing the lines of the island’s historic boat shaped dwellings, rise organically from the burnished ground" The Times

"Explora en Rapa Nui is unquestionably the swishest place on this volcanic island... Its black- and blond-wood exterior follows the folds of the earth, a repeated oval motif riffing on traditional islander design" Conde Nast Traveler

"Paradise for active travelers: each morning, guests choose from a menu of excursions, including volcano treks, horseback rides along the coast (bring a picnic lunch!), and scuba dives" Travel + Leisure