Thursday, January 31, 2013

Easter Island/Santiago November 2012 - Kaimana Inn Rapa Nui

***This post is part 4 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

Kaimana Inn came highly recommended on TripAdvisor, and is actually one of the more economical options on Easter Island, where everything is steep. There is a dearth of reasonably-priced mid-range hotels, and as such, the only two categories on the island seem to be either luxury resorts priced between $800-$1,000 per night, or rustic bed and breakfasts owned by local families. The low-end option, however, doesn't come cheap either. Expect to spend at least $100 per night minimum on accommodations that are more akin to hostels.

The owner, Marcelo, offers complimentary airport pickup and drop-off, which was very convenient. One of the best things about Kaimana Inn is its location. Just five minutes away from the airport, right in the center of Hanga Roa, it is a great base to explore the town and surrounding area. The little side street it is on also minimizes noise from the main road (not that there is a lot of noise on the main road anyway).

Main street in Hanga Roa

Side street to Kaimana Inn

The non-descript entrance through their car park leads to the main common area, which was a great place to relax, meet other travelers, and enjoy the daily complimentary breakfast. This was where I hung out the most while at the hotel (even more so than the room itself), since it was airy, bright, and comfortable. We were given a delicious welcome fruit drink when we arrived, and showed to our room right next to the common area.

Kaimana Inn entrance

The cute (but lazy) family dog

Rooms to the left, common area to the right

Common area

I have to say, despite tempering my expectations to Easter Island standards, I was still slightly disappointed when I first entered. I think the part that put me off the most was how dark and stuffy it was inside. While there was a large sliding glass window/door at the front of the room, you typically wouldn't keep it and the curtains wide open since it directly faces the common area and other rooms, not to mention the mosquitoes that would enter. Plus, the large overhangs outside essentially prevent any sunlight from coming in anyway. The only other window in the room was a tiny opening in the back. Luckily, the fan that was provided did wonders to circulate the air.

In addition, the bedsheets and towels looked quite ragged, and definitely could have used some updating. The bathroom was sufficient, but not especially clean, with plenty of mildew and a very dirty rug. The sink was located in the bedroom. Despite all of this, I was perfectly fine with viewing Kaimana Inn simply as a place to sleep. And for that purpose, it was more than adequate. The main attraction, of course, was still the island and all its wonders.

The daily breakfast was a fun and social activity, with almost all the hotel guests eating at one main table in the common area. While the food itself was alright (your typical toast, fruit, eggs, cheese, and lunch meat), the best part was being able to meet and chat with travelers from all parts of the globe. We eagerly compared itineraries and shared advice on the best places to see around the island. I had already booked a full-day tour with Marcelo prior to arrival, and was glad to hear that a few of the other guests had done so as well. It turned out to be a wonderful experience touring the island with some very cool hotel-mates.

Glimpse of the ocean from the back of the hotel

Jacuzzi that no one used

Kaimana Inn has its own restaurant at the front of the hotel facing the main road, but unfortunately, we didn't get to try it out. I heard that their pizzas are delicious though. Food options in general are not great on the island. Quality is low and prices disproportionately high. However, there are a couple of standouts that I will talk about in my next post.

Main street and Kaimana Inn restaurant

Despite there being free WiFi in the hotel, it was intermittent at best. At first, we blamed it on the rolling blackouts that seemed to happen every afternoon on the island. But throughout our stay, the WiFi would come and go at all hours of the day. I don't know if their equipment was just unreliable, or if they were shutting it down on purpose. Either way, even when the system was working, speeds were very slow... which made it a bit frustrating since the presidential elections were happening while we were there, and I was literally pulling out my hair trying to find out the results that evening!

Overall, I had a very pleasant stay at Kaimana Inn. There was definitely room for improvement in a number of areas, but given the location and relative standard for accommodations on the island, I really can't complain. Marcelo and his family were very friendly and welcoming, and his kids were adorable as well. When he drove us to the airport on the day of departure, he even walked us all the way to the check-in desk and left us with a small parting gift. It's the personal touches that really make Kaimana Inn a great place to stay.

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