Have you ever gone somewhere new and immediately felt like you were home?
Not deja vu, like it actually reminded you of your house, but a place where you were so welcomed and comfortable that you felt at home.
Eseta’s Place home-stay truly felt like a home away from home.
A home-stay is a culturally immersive experience, where you stay at a person’s/family’s private home that they’ve arranged to accommodate guests for a more authentic stay.
Eseta and her sister, Ann, run Eseta’s Place in their childhood home. About 10 years ago, a friend asked Eseta if a few visitors could stay with her, because of the lack of lodging on the island. Eseta was a busy business woman, but agreed to leave them a key, trusting complete strangers with her home and belongings. With construction contracts bringing a constant stream of visitors, “leaving a key” naturally transitioned into remodeling and re-arranging her home to accommodate more visitors in a more efficient way.
Today, Eseta runs her homestay full-time, while staying very active in her church and community. Eseta is a prominent member of the village of Fitiuta, whose wisdom and opinion is sought after by all who know her.
Her sister, Ann, moved back home from Mainland US, about a year ago, to help Eseta and reconnect with her home island. She adds a fun (slightly cheeky) dimension to the sisterly duo.
What We Liked About Eseta’s Place
The rooms at Eseta’s Place were clean and comfortable. She had two rooms to accommodate our family of five, right across the hall from each other. The beds were comfortable and sufficient for our needs. There was nothing extraordinary about them, except for the a/c (but I realize that might count as ordinary for anyone but us).
The food was good, home-cooked fare. It wasn’t gourmet, but the chef was one-of-a-kind. Ann’s son was our chef for dinner and he did an excellent job making homemade pizza. Along with the pizza, we had fresh bananas, cooked bananas, and beef & broccoli. A funny combo, but it filled our stomachs perfectly. They even wrapped some pizza in aluminum foil for us to take with us for lunch the next day, which really came in handy.
Besides dinner, they had plenty of food for making sandwiches to bring with us on our hike, cereals and other easy breakfast options, ideal for our early morning departure.
What We Loved!
A conundrum we’ve noticed in American Samoa- Samoans are generally the kindest, friendliest, most generous people on Earth. But for some reason, when they get into a customer service position that all goes away. Suddenly, you’re a nuisance and you end up feeling like you’ve inconvenienced them.
Of course, there are some drastic exceptions to this rule, and Eseta and Ann were among them. In fact, the complete opposite! As a customer service and hospitality business, I was ready for coldness and rolling eyes, but there was none. They were friendly, without being overbearing. They were fun to talk to and informative about all things Manu’a, past and present.
From the moment we arrived, bags and rambunctious kids in tow, they welcomed us so warmly and enthusiastically.
The fact that meals were included in the price was a huge bonus! Yes, we liked the food but we loved the fact this is was all included. We’d been told that food in Manu’a was very expensive and that we should pack all of our own. We did… breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five people, for five days. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised we were to find that meals were included in the price. Eseta even offered us snacks and cold drinks when we got back from out hike, not to mention the leftovers from dinner, to take with us.
While talking to Eseta about the ordeal of arranging a trip to Manu’a and how it had kept us away for so long, she was truly disappointed, explaining that she happily helps visitors arrange everything, before she’s even met them. She’s the one who let us know about the Manu’atele (government-run boat) coming the next day that could take us to Ofu for free, saving us hundreds of dollars.
What Could Have Been Better
Ta’u shuts down on Sundays. In observance of the Sabbath, you can’t get out and explore, hike, use the beaches, or anything. I don’t know that this is actually something to complain about, just something to consider when arranging your travel plans.
Honestly, Eseta’s Place was the perfect home away from home. Eseta and Ann were the kind of hosts that everyone in hospitality should take cues from. The setting was stunning, set among blossoming hibiscus, plumeria, and other flowering trees. While not on the beach, it still has a breath-taking ocean view. The food was real and plentiful. There is nothing I would have changed about our stay, except to have stayed longer.
If you’re planning a trip to Manu’a, make sure to stay a couple nights at Eseta’s Place. I guarantee you’re going to instantly love Eseta and Ann and want to come back before you’ve even left.
And if you’ve been considering a trip to Manu’a but felt overwhelmed by the process, don’t wait any longer. Call or email Eseta and she’ll gladly help you every step of the way, allowing you to relax and enjoy her tropical paradise.
Eseta’s Place Basic Info
Rooms start at $100/night, meals included
Located less than 1 mile away from the airport and about 3 miles from the boat dock
Borders the National Park of American Samoa and walking distance to hiking and pebble beaches
Contact Eseta at #1-684-677-3167 or email her at [email protected]
This is one of the most fun ways to stay anywhere in a foreign country. In Italy we stayed at an Agritourismo– a working farm and hotel. Adding this to the list of things to do while in the South Pacific!