Independent reports

John Wright – The Sunday Mail – Brisbane (Australia) (12 Jul 2008)

“In the Solomons, there are no big five-star resorts and few accommodation houses that could claim such a rating. The ONLY one that gets probably near it is Sanbis Resort, a traditionally thatched, beautifully appointed and environmentally conscious resort on an island called Mbabanga in the Western province near Gizo. In a place like the Solomons, quality should be measured in Shells, not Stars.
…there is no a Spa or Pool. But that doesn’t seem to matter – the warm sand and crystal-clear waters outside your door make up for it. Ever since I have known the islands, they have stood in my mind, like an antidote to mass tourism and a refuge from the kind of neatly packed island holidays favoured by most Australians who venture into the South West Pacific.
Diving, Snorkelling, Fishing, Surfing, World War II nostalgia, Bird watching, Eco Tours, and exploring the local culture are all part of a beguiling mix, as are the superb natural surroundings and the universal and genuine friendliness of the Solomon Island People. A great five Shell experience in other words!”

 

Leonie Coombes | March 14, 2009 / The Australian

From the privileged position of my deck at Sanbis Resort, I can say with some passion that Honiara should serve as a springboard to the beauty and tranquillity of the Western Province. This is the place to go troppo.
Of course room service is available at Sanbis Resort. I am told so quite proudly by the Solomon Islander who shows me to my bungalow. But a search soon reveals there is no phone. If you want room service, you have to walk to the restaurant and order it. That is what makes Sanbis so special: it is different. Even the name requires an explanation unless you speak Pidgin English. It means “sandy beach”, but that is an awfully bare description of this unusual holiday destination facing Marovo Lagoon at Gizo. Honeymooners’ hideaway, stress-free sanctuary and comfortable eco-lodge are all appropriate qualifications. The word luxury does not apply, which is a relief if you want to escape phones, television, cars, computers and air conditioning.

Built in 2005, Sanbis consists of six timber-and-thatch bungalows with decks that provide viewing platforms above opalescent water teeming with life. Comfortable queen-sized beds under mosquito nets face louvred windows, revealing a tranquil lagoon view. Ensuite bathrooms complete a basic layout and I sleep to the sound of slapping waves as a ceiling fan stirs the air.

By day I snorkel off the Sanbis jetty, discovering giant clams and a passing parade of vivid fish. One evening, drink in hand, I observe an octopus walking along the beach, tentacles only just in the water. This is priceless entertainment but, if boredom sets in, kayaks are available and boats can be hired for further exploration.
A soaring pavilion houses a restaurant and bar; the limited menu favours freshly caught seafood, including crayfish, and good wines are available. No one dresses for dinner, especially the barefoot host, Swiss-born Hans Mergozzi, who has spent much of his life in Australia.

He has spared no expense in making this primarily solar-powered resort ecologically sustainable, from the sewage treatment plant to the vegetable garden. Assisting him is a handful of hospitable local people who add colour to a very Melanesian experience. It is not luxurious but a fewdays here are sure to be remembered forever.

Leonie Coombes

 

Fiona Carruthers / Financial Review-New York Times – The Sophisticated Traveller, Issue 16

Surfing the Solomons (Photo at Paelongge courtesy Peter Boskovic)
….The ultimate highlight is landing at Gizo Airstrip, the only artificial feature of the pocket-sized Nusatupe Island. For those sick of post 9/11 air travel, Gizo is a tonic: No airport (okay, there is a small shack by the tarmac, but you dont have to go in), zero security and no conveyor belt in sight. Just tell the bag handler (usually another passenger) which bag is yours and prepare to catch it. Rather than a taxi stand with a queue stretching back the distance you just covered, long boats bob calmly by the island’s edge, ready to ferry passengers to any number of nearby islands.

It’s six minutes to Sanbis Resort, run by the Swiss-born Hans Mergozzi on Mbabanga Island, where six private villas and a large airy bar and restaurant float over Gizo lagoon. Not 30 minutes after touchdown, the benefits of the South Pacific’s isolation are already apparent to one new arrival, a well heeled financier who’s arrived with his 6 foot something surfboard. A keen local surfer and one of the many friendly staff at Sanbis (Ravia), whisks the financier and his board off to Titiana, a nearby reef break.

Over the years, Ravia accumulated five boards from grateful tourists. But if boards are at a premium, waves are cheap. Used to slugging it out with about 100 surfers at Tamarama on Saturday mornings, the Sydney financier spends a delirious afternoon on a deserted break. It requires several SolBrews and much of the evening to fully impress on the no-waxhead just how unprecedented this event has been. “there are only three local surfers in Gizo, so they call three a crowd,” he marvels.

After two days of snorkelling, great food and sinking Sol Brews at Sanbis, we depart for Marovo Lagoon….
… The big selling point is all the untouched glory. It might only be a short flight away, but the Solomons are 20 light years from conventional tourism.

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