Papetoai PK14, Moorea
Phone: (689) 55 1111
Located at least 30 minutes from the ferry dock, this hotel is considered one of the nicer ones on the island (in terms of aesthetics, I would agree), and is also known to have the best snorkeling around due to its location between Cook’s and Opunohu Bay. The lobby is a normal-size, open, and filled with lots of fresh flowers, and the front desk staff I felt indifferent about. Although the porter staff was nice when we pulled up, no one offered to show us where or how to find our room (there are over 100 bungalows here, and they all look the same from the outside). We booked a garden view and were upgraded to an over water bungalow—what a blessing that was. We did, however, have to wait for it, so we ventured to the (one) pool, where we could not get towels for some reason. Of course, because our stint in Tahiti with the Miss French Polynesian contest wasn’t enough, the day we arrived at the Moorea Sheraton, there was a swimsuit model doing a photo shoot in the pool. My husband was happy to wait for our room and watch her work. The over-water bungalows (at that point our first experience with them) were incredible. We were given the first bungalow on the left, which was over basically shallow water and in an area that people didn’t congregate around. The bungalows closer to the center of the development faced a huge circular bar, and the horizon bungalows at the very end had a deck with benches where people went every morning to see the sunrise and night to see the sunset, so that took away from the privacy, I thought. Needless to say, we were happy with our location. The garden bungalows seemed to be very buggy, due to the fact they were surrounded by so many plants and trees, and they had no view.
Our bungalow had a huge bathroom with separate shower and tub, filled with lots of amenities, including monoi oil. The one downfall here was that the main separation between the bathroom and the bedroom was a large window with a wooden Venetian blind. Meaning, it was open – you could hear, smell, and if you forgot to close the blind, see everything that was going on inside the bathroom. Although I understand why it was done (to have a view of the lagoon from your tub), I didn’t like it. The bedroom was spacious and had a glass-floor viewing area under the coffee table, with a light switch that lit up the under-bungalow area at night so you could watch the fish. There were full-wall, sliding glass doors that led out to the lanai deck with a table and chairs, and three steps down from there to the dock, with a fresh-water shower. Our room offered great views of the lagoon and the very lush mountains behind the resort. It almost seemed as though we walked into a postcard every morning when we went outside. All rooms were equipped with snorkel gear, beach towels, and a PILLOW menu (16 to choose from) as well.
The housekeeping staff was okay. I found myself begging for towels and toilet paper a lot, even having to go to the front desk myself to get supplies in some cases (um, I thought this was a five-star resort?!). Had we not been upgraded, I would have demanded a partial refund for this stay, but considering the bungalow we were in was almost twice the price of what we paid, I was just annoyed in silence (okay, maybe Frank heard a complaint here and there). Another annoyance was that the housekeeping staff came around with large carts that really echoed on the wooden deck. This wasn’t an issue in Bora Bora but definitely was an issue here, since they started cleaning the rooms early. So most mornings, you heard clacking at 7ish.
Meals depended on where you ate. Rotui Bar and Grill, which was poolside, had meals that were very pricey; we paid about $50 a day for two sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a beer. The food there was your average hotel poolside food—simple. The restaurant Arii Vahine offers regional/international cuisine, with views of the lagoon. Although the service here was fine, the meal was downright awful and ridiculously over-priced. I think it was the first time my husband actually lost his appetite—I thought I was going to pass out. Although your fine dining restaurant choices are limited in Moorea, I would like to think they still have an image to uphold, but apparently not. If you are interested in room service and are staying in an over-water bungalow, I would suggest the canoe breakfast feast (although very expensive). Order this on one of your first days, because there is so much fruit, it will last for your whole stay. The way it is delivered (right up to your dock/hut) is beautiful, with gorgeous flowers, danishes, jams, fruits, breads, and an unbelievable presentation. Internet access was by the spa and was about $7 for 15 minutes. It seemed annoying to me that they had the nerve to charge for this, considering the cost of the stay and considering that the Starwood property in Bora Bora did not charge.
The Mandara Spa was nice, very simple. We chose to have a moonlight couple’s massage on our lanai deck. That was incredible. I think it’s safe to say it was the best massage either of us have ever had. A large Tahitian man massaged my husband and at one point jumped on the table to hurdle him for the deep-tissue massage—it was hilarious. The concierge was pretty bad—somewhat rude and only slightly knowledgeable, which struck me as odd since she was a native. It was also slightly disappointing, considering this was our first visit to Moorea and we didn’t have a clue. It was like pulling teeth to get her to give us good information, ideas, suggestions, or to even get things done that we requested, and they charged a 10% fee! At the end of the day, we ended up booking our own 4X4 trip (with the company that picked us up from the ferry—Albert Tours) and our visit to the Tiki Village, and we confirmed our dinners on our own.
The hotel offered free activities such as kayaking, paddle boats, tennis, and volleyball. I found there were a lot of children here, and we went in May. Although they were relatively well-behaved, it wasn’t exactly what I was planning on after traveling halfway around the world. I mean, kids are kids, and they want to play in the pool and run around the beach, etc. It was slightly annoying, not that it was the hotel’s fault. The bottom line with this resort is that it has a premier location, unbelievable surroundings, and well-maintained bungalows—probably the nicest on the island—but the service stinks, so if that is an issue for you, it’s something to think about.