There is nothing quite like a tropical paradise. And we found one at Saletoga Sands resort on the South Pacific Island of Upolu in Samoa. Departing from our usual on-the-go travel mode, we adapted easily to a week-long resort vacation. Relaxation, pampering, poolside bar, optional tours, and delicious meals. If you are wondering where to stay in Samoa, read on . . .
Arriving close to 10 pm, we were instantly enveloped in the warm, fragrant, tropical air and quickly lulled to sleep by the gentle sound of the surf. Our biggest decision was air conditioning or open windows. A great nights sleep and in the morning, as I watched the sunrise, I genuinely fell in love with Samoa.
Our ocean view villa
Our ocean view family villa is large and spacious, with a big bed on one side, a wicker couch and fridge on the other. French doors open to a smaller room with two single beds for our teens. The bathroom was modern, with a backdoor leading to a private outdoor shower. Open to the sky, and surrounded by plants, it was pure heaven.
Turning on the overhead fans, I open the floor to ceiling louvres. The warm tropical air circulates through the screens that keep the mosquitoes out while allowing in the sounds of the sea. Our girls prefer to close the louvres and turn on the air conditioning, as it is hot in Samoa.
While we can see the ocean beyond the pool, not all the ocean view villas have this luxury. If an ocean view family villa is what you want, we recommend requesting villas 114, 115 or 116.
We were upgraded for our wedding anniversary to the luxurious beachfront Matai Villa Suite. With our own section of the beach and an outdoor bathtub, we were sure that this is where to stay in Samoa. Or, if we were travelling without our kids, we would have stayed in one of the oceanfront villas.
⇒ Check pricing and availability of different rooms at Saletoga Sands Resort
Resort life at Saletoga Sands
Relaxing was new to me. I have never been good at it. However, with a swim-up pool bar, oceanfront loungers, and a talented masseuse, it was easy. Then there was the never-ending ocean views and an evening Fiafia show (not every night).
And, when I needed to move, the options included snorkelling, kayaking, stand up paddle boards, swimming, cultural activities, or off-site tours.
We never quite figured out the pool bartender schedule. However, when the bar was closed the staff brought drinks from the cafe bar or a fresh coconut from the nearby trees.
Stepping out of the far side of the pool, we walk straight ahead into the sea. Reef shoes are useful, as there are broken bits of coral along the beach, the remnants of a 2010 tsunami that ripped through these shores. We had the same need for reef shoes in Rarotonga.
Even the tropical rains which dominated the weather for the first few days couldn’t dissuade us from enjoyment. Cold rain makes the outdoor shower more invigorating (there is an indoor shower too, but I like the novelty). And the resort provided umbrellas and altered tour options to accommodate the weather. Personally, I found the rain a perfect time to get a massage, or two.
⇒ Check pricing and availability at Saletoga Sands Resort
Mealtime at Saletoga Sands
A beautiful buffet breakfast is included for everyone, and the varied menu and creative chefs created exquiste meals, as well as simple options. Not a lot of choices, but enough. Being somewhat isolated, Saletoga Sands is the only place to eat if you don’t have transportation.
For that reason, we purchased an optional meal plan that included lunch and a massive three-course dinner. Financially, it appears like a great value. However, without the plan, we would have eaten less. For me, the meals were large enough that the main would have sufficed for dinner without the other two courses.
The menu offers a variety of local and familiar foods, both meat and vegetarian, plus fresh coconut. The chef went out of his way to accommodate our teen’s allergies. The only negative, and it’s a personal pet peeve, while filtered water was provided in the rooms, a glass of water is charged for at mealtime. We noticed many guests brought pre-filled water bottles/glasses from their rooms.
Feeling like family
Saving the best for last, it is the people who make Saletoga Sands so special. Kiwi owners Gavin and Lou are so approachable I feel like I have left behind long lost friends. The outdoor environment, coupled with their warm, easy-going personalities gives a family feel beyond what I would expect to find at a resort.
Exploring the island
We did leave the resort a few times, once for a tour on a rainy day, once in our own rental car, and one rather amusing trip to the hospital. Samoa is an adventure filled with laughter, colourful open-air fales (houses), dogs, pigs, waterfalls, lava caves, and plenty of things to do once you leave the resort’s isolated luxury.
Still wondering where to stay in Samoa?
We recommend Saletoga Sands if you are headed to Samoa.
Will you stay at Saletoga Sands Resort in Samoa?
Disclaimer: Saletoga Sands Resort partially sponsored our travels, however, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.