By Natalie Kessell02 Oct 2018It has always been a dream of mine to stay in an overwater villa in a tropical island paradise, this dream came true at the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu.Located a short 15-minute drive from the centre of town, the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu is close enough to feel a part of the bustling island vibe of Port Vila and far away enough to feel like you are in a world of your own.Peppered with swaying palm trees and sitting on the crystal-clear Erakor Lagoon, the resort offers something for everyone whether it be a romantic getaway or some quality time with the family. CHECK-INArriving to the sprawling lobby after a delayed flight from Espiritu Santo, it was so lovely to be greeted with a warm “welkam”, a floral garland (even though I was arriving late at night) and swift delivery via private vehicle to my villa.Driving past the beautifully lit rolling green golf course, I took the opportunity to practice my French with my driver and was surprised at how far the overwater villas actually were. My driver insisted that I not worry about the distance, however, as their vehicle was only a phone call away if I wasn’t up for a walk to the main resort any time of the day or night. ROOM TYPE & AMENITIESI was lucky enough to be calling one of only seven Overwater Villas home for my four-nights in Port Vila and, upon opening the door, it felt like all my dreams had come true.The high-pitched roof, dark wood flooring and accents, stylish island-inspired décor, sprawling king size bed, air conditioning and ceiling fan options and the spa bath that took pride of place in the massive bathroom, had me in resort heaven.The only thing missing was my husband!Grateful for the sensor lights on the balcony to illuminate the darkness of my surroundings, I fell asleep each night to the lapping of the water beneath my villa and the odd large school of fish jumping out of the lagoon. Now that was an unexpected sound in the middle of the night!Such stunning quiet can amplify what little sounds there are. The continual crow of a rooster from the nearby village and dogs barking in play meant that my earplugs were used on a nightly basis, but it didn’t subtract from the amazing experience that the Overwater Villa had to offer.At 47sqm, there was ample space to lounge (or work in my case, with the fast-speed complimentary Wi-Fi offering), enjoy the 16 cable television stations available on the two TVs (if you could tear yourself away from the pristine lagoon views outside) and a beyond-spacious bathroom (aka: my favourite room of all).Double sinks with generous bench space, a small walk-in wardrobe, separate shower and toilet and that spa bath that was eternally calling my name.The main attraction of an overwater villa has to be the direct access to the water below. However, it took a lot of coaxing from friends and family back home for me to gather the guts to get in.Thankfully, a couple staying in the villa next door were swimming in the lagoon on my last day and guided me down the ladder that was unfortunately layered with barnacles. I had invested in some inexpensive reef shoes from the resort lobby which enabled a safe climb down but, my concern was climbing back up without injury. You really did need someone keeping an eye out to direct the positioning of your arms and legs.Once in though, it was simply magnificent. The water was warm, relatively clear for a lagoon and filled with very active fish life and colourful starfish larger than I have ever seen in the wild. FOOD & BEVERAGEThe Holiday Inn Resort offers three dining venues. The Verandah Restaurant was the only one I experienced during my stay for the extensive and delectable breakfast buffet each morning.From fresh island fruit to a selection of cheeses, continental delights to cereal, the resort has taken a sustainable approach to their buffet by offering all hot food as an inclusive à la carte option instead. A vast menu includes all the western favourites and so much more. A great initiative to save on wastage.The Pool Bar features an all-day dining menu including wood-fired pizzas and cocktails, while The Lobby Bar offers coffee and cocktails into the night, complemented by a menu of snacks and tapas.Trusty in-room dining is available 24-7 and I have to recommend the Chicken BLT with seasoned fries and salad…it was one of the greatest burgers I have experienced anywhere in the world! TIPSActivities GaloreWhilst I didn’t have the chance to participate in any of the activities personally, I did sneak a peek at the offering and was very impressed.From a market tour to a local school tour, fish feeding to catamaran classes, kayak races to coconut crafts, Bislama history and Tok Tok lessons (to perfect the local lingo), to beach volleyball and so much more. I highly recommend checking out the program to further accentuate your stay at the resort and to immerse yourself in some additional aspects of the island culture.This doesn’t even touch on the extensive activities for children as part of the Totel Club program either. A nominal fee applies for some activities, but you’ll find that many are complimentary and all part of the Holiday Inn Resort service.Rejuvenate by the LagoonWhen booking a spa treatment with Namele Day Spa, do so in their cabana on the beach. Whilst my massage was divine, the spa itself is quite small, and the massage room is located off the reception area which doesn’t make for an entirely relaxing experience, unfortunately.The cabana service is a tad more expensive but well worth the money.Click here for more information on the resort. READ: 5 reasons Vanuatu’s largest island will take your breath awayREAD: South Pacific nation urges Aussies to ‘give Vanuatu a go’READ: Flight Review of Air Vanuatu Economy Class SYD-VLIHave you stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu? Other stories you may likeLAST MINUTE SEATS: Etihad Airways adds flights to London for the Easter period#travelforlife: Meet Kate Dalton, Trade Account Manager VIC/TAS of Cathay Pacific AirwaysVISIT USA arrives in SYDNEY: Check out the pics from the final expo!