Peter de Graaf checks into the Tradewinds Hotel, American Samoa.
Tradewinds is less than 3km, or a $7.50 taxi ride, from Pago Pago International Airport. It’s so close you could walk if you weren’t lugging a suitcase.
Check-in experience: Courteous and helpful. I turned up at 9am after an early-morning flight, five hours before the official check-in time, but the receptionist sent me off for a free brekkie and had my room ready by 9.30am. And when he saw my shock at the Wi-Fi rates he quietly slipped me an unused password for a couple of days’ free access. Room: I had a deluxe or matai (chief) suite on the first floor overlooking the pool and, in the distance, a range of jagged green peaks. It had a four-poster, king-size bed, a writing desk, a separate entertaining area with chairs and a coffee table, a spacious bathroom, basic kitchen facilities including a fridge and microwave, and cable TV.
Price: The rack rate for the matai suite is $256. Standard rooms are $230 and the fanciest suites are $375.
What’s so good about this place? With more than half the territory’s 200 hotel rooms, Tradewinds is by far the biggest hotel in American Samoa — and that means the biggest range of facilities, including a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, fitness room and an enticing pool. It’s well geared up for conferences with three function rooms, a marquee for outdoor functions, and all the usual gadgetry a business get-together may need.
What’s not so good? The location in Tafuna, near the airport in the island’s main commercial area, is ideal for business travellers but not so good for tourists. There’s no public beach in the area and most of the island’s attractions are clustered around Pago Pago Harbour, about half an hour’s drive away.
What’s in the neighbourhood? The airport, Veterans Memorial Stadium (scene of American football games and Flag Day festivities every April 17), and Ili’ili Golf Course.
Food and drink: The hotel’s Equator restaurant serves vast portions of mostly US-style meals starting at US$11 for a main (curiously, the menu calls mains “entrees”, but there’s nothing entree-sized about them). The adjoining bar has a range of only slightly less enormous bar meals. A continental breakfast is included in the room rate; apart from the usual toast and cereal you can try traditional Samoan breakfast treats such as cocoa rice or papaya soup. If that doesn’t tickle your taste buds you can order from a breakfast menu; if you want to eat somewhere else at night there are plenty of fried chicken outlets in the neighbourhood.
The guests: Mostly business travellers, contractors from the US mainland, conference delegates, locals on “staycation” and folk taking part in family reunions. There were also golfers competing in a tournament, missionary types taking part in a church conference, and Canadian troops on their way to military exercise in Darwin. I ran into only a handful of tourists.
Wi-Fi: A hefty US$15 per day or US$60 per week for one device, more if you want to use more than one device concurrently. It is fast though.
Noise: Any time there’s a conference the poolside marquee hosts an evening function with a band performing a mix of Sinatra-esque standards and Samoan classics. The singing is superb, as you’d expect in Polynesia, but if crooning’s not your thing, the rooms are well sound-proofed.
Perfect for: Business travellers and conferences.
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