Where is it?
The Tanoa International Dateline Hotel is located in downtown Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga. The location is excellent, just a few minutes walk from pretty much everything of interest, including sights, shopping, cafes and restaurants. At the same time the hotel is located in what can best be described as the outskirts of the city centre, i.e. not in the busiest of areas, which in many ways is a good thing.
On top of this the hotel is situated right across the street from the beautiful coastline. Although there is no beach there you do get a beautiful sea view from many of the rooms.
The arrival experience
I had prebooked a transfer from the airport to the hotel so there was a driver waiting in the arrivals hall holding a sign with my name on it. It worked perfectly and I could wait in the air-conditioned car while he was waiting to pick up two more passengers who I later shared the transfer with. The ride to the hotel took about half an hour.
The hotel exterior, the first thing you will see when arriving by car, is perhaps not the prettiest. It was apparently built in 1964, which you can easily notice. But do not get deceived by the facade because once inside everything looks very different. The hotel received a major renovation and facelift in 2015 and the lobby area is just the kind of relaxed and exotic place you would expect to find in a better South Pacific hotel.
The arrival experience at the hotel was rather disorganised as the woman at the reception thought I was with another group and asked me to have a seat as the room was not yet ready, which I did. I thought this was rather strange, that she already knew who I was and that my room was not ready, when I had in fact arrived just a minute earlier, but I did what I was asked to do. At the end, after a couple of minutes as the lobby was completely empty of other guests, she realised her mistake and apologised to me profoundly for what was anything but great reception. Certainly not my best arrival experience at a hotel but this was really my only complaint throughout the stay, and especially regarding the service, and I do understand how and why she made that very unfortunate mistake.
And on the contrary my room was ready and after the standard arrivals formalities I immediately got my room key.
The hotel has 120 rooms divided into Superior rooms, Superior rooms with balcony, Ocean view rooms, Ocean view suites and a Presidential suite.
I had prebooked a superior courtyard room however I am pretty sure the woman at the reception upgraded me to an Ocean view room as there was a lovely sea view and the room was located in the main hotel building rather than in the courtyard. Perhaps she was being nice to me because of the mistake at check-in.
The room made an excellent first impression and was in a perfect condition. A modern but still fairly relaxed design with some South Pacific charm, so the best of both worlds.
The room measured 22.5 sqm and had a queen-sized bed, a work desk, TV, closet, safe and also a minibar/fridge. There was also a kettle to make coffee and tea. The interior was in white, black and various shades of blue and turquoise.
The bathroom was also rather modern and had a walk-in shower.
But the best part of the view was definitely the excellent view overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. Just magnificent. And the higher floor you get the better view you will get. Although you will have a reasonable view even on one of the lowest floor.
By a pure coincidence I woke up rather early the following day, I think my jet lag had a part of it, and I got to enjoy the fantastic sunrise with a cup of coffee from the room. A truly fantastic start of the day.
Food and drinks
The main hotel restaurant is the Fresh Bar and Grill, which is effectively also the poolside bar, located just by the pool area. A rather relaxed place which offers both proper meals as well as drinks and snacks, similar to what you would find at most poolside bars.
There is also a lobby bar called Taulanga’u Bar which looks much like a sports bar. It seemed to be closed during the day and only open in the evening, at least from what I noticed. Generally the bar always seemed to be rather quiet whenever I passed. I presume many people prefer to go to to the outdoor poolside bar instead, at least when the weather is nice.
There is also another restaurant, the Tu I Malila Restaurant, which at the moment is only used for breakfast.
The outdoor pool and garden and the adjacent poolside bar and restaurant is really the heart and the meeting place of the hotel.
It is not the largest of pool areas but on the other hand Tonga is not exactly the most visited country in the South Pacific, so there was never a problem finding a sun lounger during the stay, even though the number of sun loungers are limited.
In the lobby there is a small shop and a tour desk which can arrange various excursions. Free Wi-Fi was available throughout the hotel, but with some restrictions regarding the speed and capacity unless you paid extra.
There is a gym in the hotel and for those being away from home for a long time it may be good to know that have had coin-operated washing machines for guest to use, and you can buy washing powder from the reception.
And of course, even though it is technically not part of the hotel, just across the street you have the pier, which is a nice place to enjoy a sunrise or a sunset. There is also a rather nice walking path along the coastline, starting just across the street.
Other than the mistake at check-in, a mistake I can actually understand how and why it happened and which they apologised about and even tried to make up by giving me a better room, there was nothing to complain about regarding the service. It was polite but at the same time friendly and pleasant, both at the reception and at the pool bar and the breakfast restaurant.
The hotel offers an airport transfer service which I made use of both to and from the airport and it worked without any problems. On the way back to the airport I was the only guest and had a very pleasant chat with the driver who gave me lots of interesting information about Tonga, the life there and all kinds of trivia along the way, things I would never have learnt about otherwise.
The breakfast was served in the Tu I Malila Restaurant on the ground floor, a rather unremarkable place. The breakfast was reasonable, not spectacular but there was really nothing missing. It included both hot and cold breakfast items and of course plenty of local fresh fruits.
Overall a very nice hotel with a good location close to most things of interest. Modern and well-appointed rooms, an excellent ocean view, friendly service and a somewhat small but adequate pool area. I would definitely considering this hotel if returning to Nuku’alofa.