The Rossi to Close in Port Vila

On December 15th, a South Pacific institution may disappear. The Hotel Rossi on Port Vila's waterfront was founded in 1929, and soon became one of the favorite watering holes of the Anglo-French New Hebrides Condominium (now Vanuatu).

The 1979 edition of South Pacific Handbook recommends Hotel Rossi as a source of "good crabs," available for 550 francs. The 2nd edition in 1982 said that the 19 rooms at Hotel Rossi cost 1,500/2,500 vatu single/double. By the 4th edition in 1989, the room rates had increased to 3,100/3,800 vatu. The book commented, "The Rossi's atmospheric bar overlooking the harbor is worth a visit even if you stay elsewhere."

By the 6th edition in 1996, The Rossi was strictly a restaurant. "The garden terrace overlooking the harbor at the Rossi Restaurant is a nice place for a leisurely lunch. If you come for dinner, don't arrive too late and miss the sunset. Vanuatu's oldest hotel was on this site until recently." The 2000 edition added, "It's also a fine place to stop for a morning or afternoon coffee, and a selection of newspapers is available for free reading. The cakes and pies are impressive."

Now Vanuatu aficionado Ian Heydon reports that The Rossi will close next week. The foreign investors who own the property are said to be interested in selling it for highrise real estate development. Or the present building may be converted into office space for tax haven accountants looking to impress their clients - only time will tell.

The outgoing leaseholder, Roy Ernst, is rumored to be talking to the owners of a leading Port Vila resort with a view to taking over the resort restaurant. Ernst owns the fixtures and fittings at The Rossi, as well as the staff contracts, so he's a restaurant in motion. Aside from The Rossi, Roy currently runs the snack bar at Trader Vics, and does in-flight catering for Air Vanuatu from the kitchen at Parliament House. Michael Blamey has some recent photos of The Rossi on his Port Vila Today Blog.

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