We just returned from a 2-week trip to French Polynesia. We spent 5 nights in Moorea at this hotel. I spent over a year pouring over every review on TripAdvisor before booking, so I *thought* I’d have a good idea of what staying at this hotel was like. While it was an ok stay, we expected it to be much better for the price paid, and we really regret not booking at the Sofitel in Moorea. We kept meeting so many couples who were ecstatic with their stay there. I’ll give you the pros and cons of staying here at the Hilton.
We booked 8 months in advance with Stewart from Custom Tahiti Travel. He was great to work with, and I highly recommend this company. He knew the answer to everything and was very quick to respond. During the trip, we felt completely taken care of even though we don’t speak a word of French. There was always a Custom Tahiti Travel rep at the airports to meet us and walk us through everything during our 2-week trip.
If you are not European, you will go through customs in Tahiti super fast. There are two lines at the airport, and they separated the Europeans from the non-Europeans. As Canadians, we were in a very short line of only 9 people and we FLEW through customs! I felt so bad looking at the other line, as the poor Europeans must have been in line for at least 1.5 hours.
Our trip was off to a bad start after that. Our flight landed in Tahiti at 5:00 a.m., and then we took the ferry to Moorea and arrived at the Hilton to check-in at 7:00 a.m. We knew check in wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. and that we’d likely have to wait, but it was the manner in which we were brushed off that really upset us. We were given delicious cocktails (even though the sun was just coming up!) and these heavenly scented cloths to towel ourselves off with. A woman went over everything with us and answered our questions. She said the room that travelers can use if their room isn’t ready to check into was already in use, so we had to just wait. We knew this would happen, so we were prepared for it. We asked if we could have our bags locked up securely behind the front desk so we could then go have breakfast without 2-weeks worth of packed luggage. The woman said she would lock our bags up-no problem! I’m a photographer, and I had $15,000 worth of photography equipment with me in one of my huge bags. I didn’t want to pack it with me to a restaurant, and I really wanted to make sure she was packing it away behind the counter. My husband and I watched her, and she kept checking in other couples and never did touch our bags. One hour went past. Then another hour. At this point she was arranging pretty flowers and walking around…paying no attention to our bags. All this time we kept walking up to the front desk and asking her to please lock up our luggage. The lobby was now VERY busy with tour operators and more travelers showing up, and there was no way we were trusting our bags to stay there while not secured behind the counter. Finally, 3 hours later, she asked a man to help her take our bags to the back and lock them up! We had spent nearly 24 hours traveling there from Canada, and all we had wanted to do was relax and enjoy the vacation but we were already stressed out. By this point we were starving too. We decided to finally go for breakfast (now that our bags were secure!) only to find that the only restaurant serving breakfast closed 30 minutes earlier! We were starving by this point! We asked front desk when the next restaurant would open for lunch, and we were told that they open at 10:30. Great, so we would only have to wait 30 more minutes, right? Wrong! The woman didn’t know what she was talking about! They don’t open for lunch until 11:30. So we sat in the lobby (which doesn’t have air-conditioning and was PACKED with people, by the way) starving and exhausted for another 1.5 hours. Finally, at 11:30 we went for lunch. I was furious at this point and began to think about whether the thousands of dollars we spent on this trip was worth it to be treated like this. Afterward, we were notified that our room was ready right at check-in time of 2:00 p.m.
We stayed in what I believe to be one of the best overwater bungalows at the Hilton Moorea. We were in room 73. It’s one of the furthest ones out in the water, and there was only one other bungalow that was further out than ours on that side. We had a mountain view and a sunrise view every morning. There were no mosquitos at all. The snorkeling off our bungalow was incredible (trigger fish, sting rays, parrot fish, angel fish, etc). There was a lot of privacy with this room. When you are on your deck, you can look back to your right and see the next bungalow, but it’s not super close. We’re Canadian, and we needed to bring a converter to plug in our electronics, so make a note of that! Yes, you can hear the roosters off in the distance, but the dogs were honestly much worse. The barking was really loud, and it carried right over the water. We luckily had read reviews on here regarding the noise, so we brought our son’s sound machine from when he was a baby. We just plugged it in and the white noise blocked out all the barking and the roosters. But I felt bad for our neighbors who had to listen to it from 4:30 a.m. and onward! The noise is a major issue with staying at this hotel. Also an issue is the fact that there is no privacy with the washrooms. There is no wall behind the sink, so my husband could have laid on the bed and listened to me use the washroom. Not romantic! We've been together for 10 years, but some things are meant to be private. I hated that aspect of the room.
I was nervous about how the food would be at this hotel after reading the reviews on here, but it was incredible. You will honestly not have a bad meal here. The Hawaiian pizza at the lunch restaurant was the best I’ve ever had! It’s the service that’s the problem (don’t even bother eating at the crepes restaurant as it took them 55 minutes to make a crepe when I was only one of 4 customers!). We enjoyed the food so much that we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the hotel for our entire 5-night stay. The breakfast buffet included fresh coconut, the most amazing ‘breakfast potatoes’ and heavenly local jams such as pineapple/vanilla that you can smear over fresh-baked brioche. Definitely get breakfast included with your hotel stay, as it is incredibly expensive on its own. It was a crap shoot to see what exactly we were going to get for dinner. I had an amazing chicken dish one night for dinner, and I ordered the same dish off the menu the next night and got a completely different meal! When we asked for coffee with dessert every night, we never got it. One waiter even looked at me like I had two heads when I asked for it, then told me he’s get me a cup, and never returned. We nicknamed one of the waitresses ‘the bumblebee’ as she was always buzzing around the main restaurant making it look as if she was busy but she was actually avoiding working entirely. She would never make eye contact with anyone, and our attempts to flag her down for more bottled water or to get the bill were always in vain.
There really isn’t much of a beach at this hotel. It’s just a very tiny strip of sand. We met up with some people on an ATV excursion, and they were all staying at the Sofitel in Moorea and raved about the beach.
The spa menu was really disappointing. I was really looking forward to booking a treatment, but they really lacked in variety on the menu. There were mainly just massages! The packages included facials, but you couldn’t just get that on its own if you didn’t want a full-day package.
Another thing is that while the hotel grounds are beautiful, you are left with the feeling that you could be in any hotel in Florida or somewhere warm in the USA. They have made the hotel feel too generic and we really didn’t feel like we were in a tropical paradise like we did at the hotel we stayed at in Bora Bora. We honestly felt like we were in the USA.
An extremely annoying thing that the Hilton does that other hotels in the area do not is that they make you sign off on breakfast every morning even if you have it included with your stay. When we would arrive for breakfast in the morning, they’d ask for our room number and mark it down on a sheet. Then, after we were finished eating at the buffet for breakfast, we’d have to wait an extra 30-45 minutes (because the service is so slow) for someone to bring us a slip of paper to sign. Ummm…it’s not getting charged to our room since it’s included in the cost we paid upfront, so why waste our time EVERY day by making us sign off on a breakfast we’d paid for months in advance?!?! No other hotel in the area did this, and we found it to be so aggravating.
One of the biggest irritants you will experience at this hotel is how late in the day the rooms are cleaned. We would be up at 6:00 a.m. every morning and be out having breakfast until 8:00. Then we’d go on an excursion around Moorea and return somewhere around 2:00-3:00. Our room STILL wouldn’t be cleaned at this point. After going on an ATV excursion or snorkeling all day, you just want to relax, but this is when they’d always come to clean the room. One day it wasn’t cleaned until 5:00. They really need to hire more cleaning staff! Also, we found it strange to see that only two towels are given. I mean, you’re going to be going in the water A LOT if you are in an overwater bungalow, so you should get at least 4 towels.
There is Happy Hour at the bar from 4-7 p.m. and that was a nice touch. Drinks that are normally 1500 xpf are 2-for-1 at that time.
We made the mistake of going off the hotel grounds for one meal, and we tried the Lilikoi Garden Café. I feel so bad giving it a bad review since the woman who owns the place seemed so nice, but my tuna was VERY overcooked and my banana milkshake was really warm (eww). My husband liked his chicken sandwich, though. We paid $40 USD just for that lunch. Stay with the food at the Hilton.
For a hotel that tries to come off as being a higher-end hotel, it’s shocking that in 2013 free WI-FI isn’t included with your stay when you are paying thousands to stay here. Another really important note to make that I don’t think I ever read in another review is that they have set up their system so that you can’t send e-mail out. Outbound ports are blocked and this restricts ALL secure apps (so, if you’re thinking of using Skype, you can forget about it at this hotel). My husband is a Computer Systems Analyst and knew how to get around this so I could still keep in touch with my business e-mails (unfortunately I still had to work a bit on this trip), but the average person would have no clue and wouldn’t be able to get around it. It was so frustrating, as we’ve never seen this type of security with any other hotel we’ve ever stayed at, and my husband travels all around the world for work!
Room service never worked, and we found that to be very strange. My husband got a little too much sun one day, and he wanted to order supper to the room that evening. Every time I tried to call for room service, there was a funny tone on the phone-almost like a busy tone and no one ever answered. We made friends with another couple at the resort, and they noticed the same problem so it wasn’t just us. We asked about it at front desk and they confirmed that we were dialing correctly. Strange.
And that brings me to the absolute worst part of staying at this hotel…phone charges. We left our son with the grandparents for this trip, and we wanted to call him every day. We brought an international phone card from home with us, and we had asked the woman when we were checking in about calling home to Canada and she had just waived her hand and said it would be no problem. Wrong! We were given a whopping $450 USD bill for calling home to Canada for 5-10 minutes each day. They charged us $12 USD per MINUTE, for crying out loud! Keep in mind that we had a calling card that we had already paid $100 for when we bought it back home. We were never told this at check-in, and these charges were never applied at any other hotel we stayed at in French Polynesia. It’s a Hilton thing solely. We have been arguing with Hilton about this for weeks now, and they tried to lie to us and tell us that it was a customary charge in French Polynesia. It isn’t. We had a heavenly stay at the Sofitel Private Island in Bora Bora for 6 nights, and not once were we charged anything. We also weren’t charged at Manava Suites in Tahiti. When we got home, we immediately continued to contact them again about this bill, and they have outright refused to reverse the charges, as they continue to state that there is a charge associated with using a calling card anywhere in French Polynesia. They also told us that this was explained to us at check-in (it wasn’t) and that there was some sort of a document in the room that would have outlined this for us and that it was our mistake for not reading it. I honestly didn’t see anything in the room regarding this. Perhaps it was there, but it definitely needed to be pointed out at check-in, especially since we made it clear that we’d be calling home. Honestly, $450 is another night in Moorea that we could have had. Shame on the Hilton for exhibiting such ‘nickel and dime’ behaviour when they already charge such high rates for their stays. It cheapens their image.
Also, I wanted to point out that at other nicer hotels (such as the Sofitel Private Island in Bora Bora), you are given really nice little complimentary items that the Hilton doesn’t provide (such as free WI-FI in your room, free bottled water and pastries at turn down every night, and a FREE fully-stocked mini bar every day).
Updated, comfy rooms
Great snorkeling right off your deck
Beautiful hotel grounds
Happy Hour cocktails
Horrible service at front desk, disregard for luggage
Rooms that take all day to get cleaned
Crap shoot at the restaurants in terms of getting what you order, horrible restaurant service too
Extremely loud dogs and roosters roaming around
No WI-FI in the rooms!?!? This is 2013!
Outbound ports are blocked on their server, so you can’t send e-mail or access restricted apps (like Skype)
Outrageous phone charges, even with a calling card
Not much of a beach
Periods of the day when you can’t order food (like between breakfast and lunch there is a 2-hour window where you can’t get food)
Room service didn’t work
Making people wait to sign off on an already-paid breakfast
Poor spa menu
Generic feeling to the hotel grounds
No nice complimentary touches like other hotels in the area give out
Would I stay here again or recommend it to friends? Absolutely not. There are much better places to stay in Moorea. You’ve worked hard for your money, please don’t waste it here.
- Also Known As:
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort And Spa
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Hotel Papetoai
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Hotel
- Sheraton Moorea
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort
- Moorea Sheraton
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa French Polynesia
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled between two bays on the heart-shaped island of Moorea, is the very definition of a romantic South Seas escape. ... more less
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