SAND BY ME
OF course room service is available at Sanbis Resort. I amtold 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 airconditioning.
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 Great escape: The lagoon at Sanbis 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, Swissborn 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 few days here are sure to be remembered forever. Leonie Coombes