Travelers have a long history of give and take with Easter Island or Rapa Nui as it's known in the local language. Dutch sailors gave it a new name after landing there on Easter Sunday in 1722. In the mid-1800s, sailors from various nations took about 2,000 of the island's inhabitants to sell as slaves. There was little fight left in the Easter Islanders by the time two moai the island's iconic statues were removed by the crew of a British navy ship later that century.
Over 800 moai remain on the island, however, attracting all types of visitors, from seafarers Easter Island has become one of the world's most exotic cruise-ship stops to backpackers, who regularly make the six-hour flight from Chile or New Zealand to trek across the grassy hills and gaze at the giant stone figures.
But the accommodation on the island has been far less thrilling. The young and adventurous have their pick of tiny local hostels or guesthouses. Those looking for more luxury, though, had to stay in their cruise-ship cabins until now. In December 2007, Easter Island got its first proper hotel: Explora's Posada de Mike Rapu (www.explora.com). Named after the resident who owns the land, the contemporary lodge was built using local rock and Chilean wood, giving it a rustic but fresh look. The 30 airy bedrooms with curved, wood-lined walls that echo the boat-shaped homes of the first settlers each have sea-view window seats and slate-and-pine bathrooms. They are arranged around a central lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows and comfortable living areas where guests can curl up with a book or sip a Rapa Nui Cosmopolitan. The restaurant offers local salmon, lamb and quinoa, along with Chilean wines. This marriage of authenticity and luxury means the most valuable thing the modern visitor takes away is memories.