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“Perfect for two!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach

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Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Aroa Beach, Aroa Beach, Cook Islands   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
$500 Free Resort Credit
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Perfect for two!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2012

My partner and I stayed at Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach in April 2012 and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. As the Sanctuary is for adults only, we found it to be peaceful and it offered us the privacy we wanted and lots of activities as well such as kayaking, snorkelling etc. The resort shares facilities with its neighbour the Rarotongan; guests from the Sanctuary are able to use all of their areas and restaurants etc, but those staying in the Rarotongan are not allowed access into the Santcuary, so it does indeed allow a degree of exclusiveness and tranquility. There is a private beach which is only available to guests, the beach and lagoon are gentle and inviting and very safe for water activities. There is a budget car and scooter hire establishment across the road and this allows for easy transport around the island. There is a wonderful tropical breakfast offered in the mornings, all the fresh fruit of the island and for lunch and evening dining the restaurant provides wonderful cuisine. The swim up bar is lovely to relax in and enjoy a cocktail or three! We found the staff there to be extremely friendly and catered to all of our needs with a smile always. The Sanctuary is very relaxed and offers calm and thoughtful service. We recommend taking in some of the activities the resort has to offer, we enjoyed the Island Night concert and barbeque immensely. We have organised to come back again next April we enjoyed our time so much. Enjoy your experience :-)

Room Tip: We found the upper suite in 6 to be perfect for our needs, near to the restaurant, reception, pool a...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, June 24, 2012
Kia Orana Lance R,

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach.

We are very happy to read that you thoroughly enjoyed the location and service provided during your stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga in April 2012.

The Sanctuary Rarotonga on the beach is the Cook Islands’ iconic adults only beach resort. Here, modern comforts blend with the charm of traditional Polynesia to add up to perfect relaxation on the sun-soaked beach. The Sanctuary Rarotonga is renowned for its warm and friendly staff with open hearts and smiles.

Set on Aroa Beach, Rarotonga's most beautiful white sandy beach on the shores of Aroa Lagoon (the Lagoon of Love), Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach is located on the island's sunshine southwest coast where guests can enjoy all-day sun, stunning sunsets, all-tide safe swimming and excellent off-beach snorkelling in the traditional marine sanctuary directly in front of the resort.

Set out amidst lush tropical gardens featuring hibiscus, banana and coconut palms. All of the Sanctuary’s forty eight rooms are no higher than two storeys and are set on absolute beachfront, and feature an authentic Pacific aesthetic combined with the charm of Polynesian-style architecture. It’s a perfect destination offering a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere for those seeking the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life :)

In addition to the swim up pool bar and two restaurants (Blue Water Grill and the Ginger Garden Asian Restaurant) at Sanctuary, adult guests of the Sanctuary Rarotonga also have access to FREE Daily Activities including snorkelling, snorkelling lessons, snorkelling safaris, introductory try scuba dive lessons, fish feeding, crab hunting, crab racing, kayaking safaris, Polynesian canoe ‘Vaka’ lessons, beach volleyball, beach cricket, beach soccer, beach touch rugby, beach petanque, tennis, basketball, lessons on island (hula) dancing, pareu (sarong) tying, palm-frond weaving, flower garland (lei) making, coconut climbing and husking show, giant chess, board games, guest library, air conditioned gym, fitness trail, guided walks to cultural, historical & natural attractions in the local area, wine tasting & black pearl lectures. They also have FREE use of snorkelling and tennis gear, hammocks, sun loungers, beach towels and kayaks!

For those guests wishing to hire rental cars and scooters during their stay in Rarotonga, they can do so via our Best of the Islands Tour Desk located at the lobby area of The Rarotongan.

Thank you once again for your review and we look forward to welcoming you back to Sanctuary Rarotonga in April 2013.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
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254 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (108)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Sydney, Australia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2012 via mobile

I enjoyed my stay at the Sanctuary and when I arrived there after four days roughing it a bit on Aitutaki, the aircon, kingside bed, room service and modern comforts were fab. However the whole place and beach just seemed such a far cry from the lagoon paradise of Aitutaki. It's not the hotel's fault but it does feel more like a normal hotel anywhere in the world without that extra something. I would 100% recommend staying here as food, service, standard of room etc was excellent however would recommend to someone visiting Cook Islands for first time to go to Aitutaki over Rarotonga. Good hotel for stopover or last night before flight home but doesn't quite have that paradise type feel to it. U cd stay here all week and be anywhere. Only improvement I'd say wd be for better coffee at breakfast and more food choice at breakfast without having to pay extras. P.s. Take plenty of mosquito repellent as they are everywhere.

  • Stayed April 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana kittykatster,

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach in April 2012.

We are delighted that you visited our sister island Aitutaki during your holiday to the Cook Islands. Unfortunately, many visitors to the Cook Islands have not visited this stunning paradise as part of their stay, even with it being only a 45min flight away from Rarotonga. It is certainly worth incorporating into a Cook Islands holiday be it for a Day Tour or overnight :-)

It’s also a pleasure to read that you enjoyed your tropical island escape at our newest adult’s only boutique sister resort to The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa and Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa.

Sanctuary Rarotonga is set on absolute beachfront on the white sand shores of secluded Aroa Beach, Rarotonga’s best beach and located on the island’s preferred sunshine southwest coast enjoying all-day sun, sizzling tropical sunsets and overlooking beautiful Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve, the Lagoon of Love, Rarotonga’s best snorkelling spot.

We have 48 Beachfront Suites which are situated right on the beach with views of Aroa Beach and Lagoon, offering a distinctive island experience with rattan-lined walls, superb bathroom facilities and fabulous indoor-outdoor flow.

Guests can step from their beautiful Beachfront Suite directly onto the secluded white sands of Aroa Beach and play with the jewel-coloured reef fish in the crystal-clear waters of Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve, and watch them feed out of your hand.

Sanctuary Rarotonga also offers a Swim-up Pool Bar where guests can truly relax and indulge with one of our refreshing cocktails.

I have also noted your comments regarding the coffee available on our breakfast buffet and this is currently under review with our Food & Beverage Manager.

We hope to be able to welcome you back to our shores in the near future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Christchurch
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2012

Nice rooms. Great view. Very pleasant place to stay

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana Lily071,

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach in April 2012.

Sanctuary Rarotonga is set on absolute beachfront on the white sand shores of secluded Aroa Beach, Rarotonga’s best beach and located on the island’s preferred sunshine southwest coast enjoying all-day sun, sizzling tropical sunsets and overlooking beautiful Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve, the Lagoon of Love, Rarotonga’s best snorkelling spot.

We have 48 Beachfront Suites which are situated right on the beach with views of Aroa Beach and Lagoon, offering a distinctive island experience with rattan-lined walls, superb bathroom facilities and fabulous indoor-outdoor flow.

Guests can step from their beautiful Beachfront Suite directly onto the secluded white sands of Aroa Beach and play with the jewel-coloured reef fish in the crystal-clear waters of Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve, and watch them feed out of your hand.

Sanctuary Rarotonga also offers a Swim-up Pool Bar where guests can truly relax and indulge with one of our refreshing cocktails.

We are pleased that you enjoyed the location and views available and hope to be able to welcome you back to our shores in the near future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2012

We had a very relaxing week, the hotel was very clean with excellent location right on the lagoon with some of the best snorkelling we've ever done! The only down sides were the matress was too soft for our liking & sometimes the service was a bit slow, but that's understandable with island living on holiday!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with Easytobook.com

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana “Easytobook.com traveler”

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach in March 2012.

We are happy that you enjoyed your relaxing tropical island escape at Sanctuary Rarotonga. It is indeed perfectly situated beachfront to the stunning Aroa Marine Reserve “Raui” which has an abundance of jewel colored reef fish and marine life only a few steps from your room and the shore.

We do appreciate your feedback in regards to your mattress comfort during your stay – this could have easily been addressed by our Housekeeping team if brought to their attention or the attention of one of our Manager’s on Duty (on shift between the hours of 7am – 12midnight 7 days a week).

We certainly encourage our guests to relax and unwind during their holiday with us however slow service is not acceptable from the staff. As a result, we have addressed your feedback in regards to the slow service during your stay and have addressed this with our department manager’s for their attention and action.

Thank you once again for your review and we hope to be able to welcome you back to Sanctuary Rarotonga in the near future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2012 via mobile

My extended family and I have stayed at the Rarotongan Beach Resort about 9 times times when my son was growing up. Last time I was there in December 2009 the Sanctuary was about to open, and the idea of adults only and swim-up bar was so appealing we went there for my best friend's 30th on New Year's Day 2012, along with my now 20 year old son. We had a fantastic time. The front of house and domestic staff were great and friendly, the facilities of RBR were available but we could walk away from noisy kids and chaos into the peace of the Sanctuary - a perfect name for it.

Only issue was being charged $200 for a broken toilet lid - how it broke I don't know but it was deemed to be our fault. While I spoke to the duty manager over the phone he couldn't sort out a time when I could talk to the manager prior to us leaving the island so just added it to the bill. I paid as I didn't want to make a scene with the fabulous front of house staff, but it did leave a very sour taste in the mouth - surely there should be contingency funds to cover this sort of damage, especially as my family had spent $10,000s over the previous few decades at the RBR, but no, just add it to the bill - very, very poor customer relations from management. I would hate to have to face a bill for breaking a window or similar!!

Despite that issue, we have now booked in to return for my son's 21st, and are very much looking forward to enjoying the Sanctuary again because of the facilities and the front of house staff who went out of their way to make our stay very enjoyable. One poor decision from management has not been enough to put us off from returning. I just hope there is not a second such decision - in which case I think we'd start looking at Samoa for something a bit different but still tropical paradise.

Stayed January 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana LouisaNZ

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga in January 2012.

It is always a pleasure to welcome guests back to Rarotonga and our Resorts :-)

Sanctuary Rarotonga is the newest sister resort to The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa and our Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa. As our new adult’s only boutique resort for guests 16yrs and older, it offers guests a relaxing and tranquil environment only a few steps away from the great facilities and buzz of The Rarotongan but also has its own 24hour reception desk, restaurants and swim up pool bar and pool.

Thank you for your feedback in regards to your experience with the broken toilet lid during your stay - it is unfortunate that you were unable to meet with our Resort Manager to address your concerns in regards to this. However, as a result of your feedback, we have made changes to our procedures to improve the way that these situations are handled.

We are excited that you are planning to return for your son’s 21st Birthday – we have an experienced team of Special Events staff that would be pleased to assist you with organizing the perfect event to celebrate this milestone occasion, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like assistance with planning his birthday :-)

Thank you once again for your review – we look forward to welcoming back to our resorts in the near future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grass Valley, California
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2012

We stayed here for five nights in early March and were very pleased that we did. Rooms are very nice, (I was told all rooms are exactly the same) and it looked like it would be hard to get a room without at least some view of the beautiful beach and lagoon at the resort. We had a second floor room in the middle wing. This part of the resort complex is newer than the adjoining Rarotongan Resort.

Staff was very friendly and accomodating. We thought the <free> breakfast offerings were more than adequate. For a few bucks more, we could have ordered eggs and bacon and such but we don't usually do that anyway.

Puzzled by another reviewer who cited lack of tap water. At breakfast there was a tank with ice water and water in the rooms was drinkable and so we always carried our full water bottles with us and didn't have a problem.

Loved the fact the resort was child-free it made the whole place serene and restful. We would sometimes go next door to the Rarotongan and could see how much difference it made with kids running around screaming....

Snorkeling was EXCELLENT in front of the resort, you could see plenty of fish close to shore, but even more to see a couple hundred yards out where there is a more coral. Visibility is excellent and you can almost always touch bottom anywhere in the lagoon. Just down the street is "The Dive Centre" whom we used to go scuba diving with on another part of the island and we HIGHLY recommend them.

Island NIght next door at the Rarotongan provided a very good meal and show for us.

On our last day, our flight left late in the evening and Sanctuary was sold out so staff moved our stuff next door to the Rarotongan for the day and we were charged a modest day rate. I last stayed at the Rarotongan in 1986 and can report that the rooms have held up well.

We'd go back to The Sanctuary in a heartbeat as well as Raro in general. It's so easy to get to as Air NZ has one flight a week that goes non-stop from LAX, overnight both ways. Very practical and a very nice airline.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana “PinotNoir”

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach in March 2012.

We are delighted that you enjoyed your tropical island escape at Sanctuary Rarotonga. We have 48 Beachfront Suites at this new adult’s only boutique resort and all of our Beachfront Suites are perfectly located beachfront and only a few steps from the stunning Aroa Marine Reserve.

We are also very happy to hear that you found our team of staff at Sanctuary a pleasure to deal with and our daily tropical breakfast buffet satisfying. As you mentioned, in addition to our daily tropical breakfast buffet, we also offer a great a la carte selection of cooked breakfast options for those who are looking for a little bit extra :-) Our breakfast buffet also includes a selection of tropical fruit juices and iced water.

And, at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa located directly adjacent to Sanctuary Rarotonga – guests can enjoy a great variety of theme night buffets and entertainment such as our Legends of Polynesia Island Night Feast & Show or our Island BBQ & Fire Dancing Show with Tamariki Manuia!

Once again, thank you for your review of Sanctuary Rarotonga and we look forward to welcoming you back to our shores in the near future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2012

Sanctuary Rarotonga on the beach is a perfect place to stay. No children. Rooms are beachfront. Meals at Blue Water Grill are perfect. Friendly staff. Rooms get cleaned every day properly. We were a group of nine and were all looked after very well. I liked being upstairs though for privacy and lack of sand being dragged through the room. However there are brooms in the rooms and i watched the staff clean the rooms - they were swept and mopped. If you meet Sekoula at Sanctuary - she is the best - learnt our names very quickly and our favourite drinks. She had a great sense of humour and added a neat personal touch to the stay. Fantastic tropical breakfast and great location - great snorkelling too

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, May 4, 2012
Kia Orana Ang S,

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach.

It was our sincere pleasure to host you for your tropical island escape in March 2012 and we are pleased to read that you and your group of friends/family enjoyed the stunning beachfront location of the rooms and Resort as well as the friendly service provided by our team of fun loving staff.

Sekoula was also delighted to read your comments and fondly recalls the moments that she enjoyed sharing a good laugh with you :-)

We look forward to your next stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach!

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach

Address: Aroa Beach, Aroa Beach, Cook Islands
Phone Number:
Location: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Rarotonga > Aroa Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach 4*
Number of rooms: 48
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A true taste of the exotic Cook Islands in the heart of the South Pacific, Sanctuary Rarotonga is an adults-only resort located on the pristine white sand shores of Aroa Lagoon. All suites are absolute beachfront. Tropical buffet breakfast, many resort activities, and daily activities program are included in the nightly rate. The perfect location for a romantic honeymoon or a relaxed beach holiday. Three effortless Weddings in Paradise packages. A true South Pacific paradise. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Hotel Aroa Beach
Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Aroa Beach

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