Travel News

Downtown Honiara hotels upgrading

Written By : Peter Lomas. Yes, we know. Honiara is not a destination of choice for a holiday. But plenty of people fly to the busy Solomon Islands capital on
24 Apr 2010 12:00

image Written By : Peter Lomas. Yes, we know. Honiara is not a destination of choice for a holiday.
But plenty of people fly to the busy Solomon Islands capital on business of many types.
The good news: while Honiara remains one of the grubbiest capitals in the Pacific Islands, its main downtown hotels are upgrading.
One reason is the competition and class provided by the new Heritage Park Hotel.
So where do you stay? Where do you go to escape the dust, rubbish and heat that marks downtown Honiara?
And if you’re so inclined, where’s the action in the evenings?
First thing you need to know.
Honiara accommodation of any quality is not cheap. An executive room at the Heritage Park is SBD$1600 a night, about FJD$386. A seaview room at the King Solomon Hotel is SBD$1100, about FJD$266.
Here’s our three main downtown Honiara places to stay.
Criteria: All are within walking distance of the main Government and business offices, restaurants and cafes in the downtown area known as Point Cruz.

Mendana Avenue
The new place-to-stay in Honiara opened last September. It quickly won praise, both for its facilities and service.
The competition and standards it brought inspired improvements at some of Honiara’s other main hotels.
Staff standards are higher than what has been the Honiara norm. The Heritage Park team were all put through an intensive 12-week training programme before opening.
That might seem normal in Fiji. It’s not in Honiara.
The Heritage Park is rapidly becoming the preferred Honiara place to stay for those operating on generous per diems or whose expenses are paid.
The Heritage Park is also a very visible example of the growing Papua New Guinea investment in the Solomon Islands.
It was developed by Port Moresby’s Constantinou family run Lamana Developments. These people have a proven record of setting up high-standard hotel. They have brought these standards to Honiara.
Their Heritage Park looks out on to Iron Bottom Sound from a prime waterfront and gardens spot. The land it is on previously housed the official residence of the governor-general.
Another Papua New Guinea company, Bank South Pacific – now the biggest bank in the Solomons – is building its new local headquarters next door.
Tip: Book early. Heritage Park offers up to 20% discount for early bookings.
A recent comment from the TripAdvisor website says:
“What a great new hotel in Honiara, a real a world class facility. Great staff, lovely relaxed tropical decor and atmosphere, beautiful swimming pool and gardens overlooking the ocean.
“Rooms are spacious, and while not super luxury, are spotlessly clean and fitted out with everything required. Will definitely be my first choice when I return.”

Mendana Avenue
The Mendana was once number one place to stay in Honiara.
Best downtown location. Best facilities.
But its Japanese owners, the Kitano group, failed to maintain it. Standards and service slipped. So did the Mendana’s reputation. That’s now changing, for the better.
Two factors helped encourage Kitano to invest in a continuing upgrade:
First: New confidence in stability. The years of ethnic conflict and uncertainty that beset Honiara and the island on which it is located, Guadalcanal, appear well over.
Second: Competition. The building of the Heritage Park almost next door along the Point Cruz waterfront.
Kitano countered last year by opening the Mendana’s new wing looking out on to Iron Bottom Sound. Along with this came new executive suites, two new restaurants and a modern lobby area that highlights the Mendana’s seaside location.
Tip: If your budget can bear it, book early and secure a room in the new wing.
Recent comment on the TripAdvisor website: “I have been travelling to the Solomon Islands for over 10 years and had stayed at this hotel a few years ago and was very disappointed. Thought would give it another try and was surprised that it has improved so much.
“The new section looks great and although our room was not in that section, the room we stayed in, on the 3rd floor of the older section, was clean and quiet. Staff are friendly but work on island time.”

Hibiscus Avenue
Undeniably Honiara’s downtown hotel with character.
Australians Shane and Sue Kennedy own and operate the centrally located King Solomon, as well as tourism locations out in Western Province.
They have cemented King Solomon as the heartbeat of the city’s evening social scene. If you just want quiet evenings working or reading, this is not the place to be. Head for the Heritage Park or Mendana.
If you want to mix with an interesting collection of locals and expats, King Solomon is the starting place for many a lively evening. Since they bought the hotel the Kennedys have also been steadily developing the rooms and facilities.
Tip: The higher you go the better it gets. If you can afford it, invest in a suite up the top, up the hotel’s cable car. Great view. Less noise.
Comment from the TripAdvisor website: “Honiara is far from anything resembling a modern city. Given those conditions, King Solomon Hotel is run comparatively efficiently.
“The hotel is usually occupied by a motley crowd of expatriate UN, INGO, RAMSI (Australian/NZ military), paramedical and engineering staff.
“Young and beautiful. So conversation is always interesting.”
Air Pacific has a weekly service Nadi-Honiara-Nadi on Tuesdays via Port Vila.

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