Honiara’s Heritage Park Hotel may have the history, but the Coral Sea Resort, located on the waterfront just down the road, has the edge when it comes to razzle-dazzle, which in the Solomon Islands was sorely missing before this property came along in 2016.
From its fire pit and polished concrete features, to a peerless Malaysian ‘street food’ restaurant, the Coral Sea Resort ups the ante in many respects for Honiara accommodation - both in form and function.
Its vast, outdoor lobby boasts a towering ceiling that mixes stunning timbers with traditional thatching, and makes a powerful first impression. Here, you can watch traditional dancing displays or just enjoy a drink from Haydn’s Cocktail Bar in a cosy al fresco setting.
Beyond this, accommodation is laid out in two halves: the five gorgeous standalone Luxury Villas, which open out onto crisp lawns and views of Iron Bottom Sound, and the contemporary Deluxe Hotel Suites (actually rooms).
Located on the top (third) floor, my room is a large but not oversized space featuring mostly modern fittings, locally-inspired art and decorations, a huge work space and comfortable double bed (which though perfect for me may be on the slightly smaller side for some couples).
Other standouts include attractive concrete ‘floorboards’, a floor-to-ceiling window that boasts a two-layered blind system - one to dim, the other to completely darken - and a balcony with unobstructed views over the ocean.
More features are the free (and reasonably fast, for the Solomons) wifi, 40'-inch LCD TV, smartphone docking stations, safe and fully stocked mini bar.
Similarly spacious and fresh, the bathroom features a dual rain and hand-held shower, bathrobe and slippers, and Malin & Goetz toiletries. A nice touch are the organic coconut body oil and handmade soap, which are both produced by local not-for-profit organisation Kokonut Pacific.
Back in the main building, typically friendly Solomons staff will help organise a wide range of activities on offer at the hotel, from fishing charters on the property’s own Coral Sea 1 boat, to island hopping tours and dolphin watching trips. Elsewhere, private picnic packages are perfect for those looking for a little romance, while gaming options are aplenty in the resort’s (relatively) swanky casino, including blackjack and roulette tables and dozens of poker machines.
Nearby, in an attractive indoor and outdoor space, Haydn’s Restaurant serves up a simple continental breakfast highlighted by fabulous fresh fruit and whole coconuts, and an a la carte hot breakfast with classics like eggs Florentine and Benedict and a not-so-typical (unless perhaps you’re in the Solomons) lobster frittata. Though a little non-dairy milk would be welcomed (by this lactose intolerant writer), the coffee here is also very good.
By night, Haydn’s Steakhouse serves up a wide variety of ... steak, but also sumptuous seafood and other Asian and European-inspired cuisine.
Between manicured lawns and the resort’s beautiful pool, a pebbled walkway leads you down to the property’s seaside eatery, The Boardwalk Restaurant, which specialises in Southeast Asian fare, with an emphasis on Malaysian cuisine. Here, I dine on an excellent curry laksa washed down with a SolBrew lager - though the beer list goes well beyond the local brews.
With an extensive menu that features the likes of roti canai (Malaysian flat breads) and Malaysian grilled chicken (done a variety of ways), as well as an outstanding drinks list, this is a restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in the laneways of Kuala Lumpur (or Melbourne) - and is just another way this resort is a game changer for hotels in Honiara.
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