This was our eighth trip to Moorea and our third stay at the Intercontinental. Overall, we're Intercontinental junkies when we're in French Polynesia--the properties tend to be among our favorites, the service is excellent, food outstanding, and they really, really know how to treat their repeat guests. We always feel special when we travel there and, as silly as it is, I do like to feel spoiled on my vacation. We spent six nights at the Moorea Intercontinental, from March 16, 2013 - March 22, 2013.
We travel as a family now (our kids were 12 and 14 this year) and have a Priority Club membership. We learned when we arrived at the Tahiti Intercontinental after our six night Moorea Intercontinental stay that there had been some kind of issue renewing our Gold Ambassador membership (as in: I paid for it, but it apparently never happened in the computer!), but we didn't even realize this in Moorea because they took such good care of us! We were given a two category upgrade, from standard beach bungalow to premium beach bungalow (315) and we had a lovely, unobstructed view of the lagoon. Hearing the ocean waves break on the outer reef was just spectacular--so relaxing! The bungalow was also nicely situated for a family. It was very quiet (except for the occasional bit of roofing work that was going on in the main hotel block behind us) and a quick walk to the restaurants, pools, and beach. The kids fit nicely on the day bed/trundle in the living room, and there was an enormous bed in the bedroom part of the suite for us parents (and a real king-sized bed, too--not two beds pushed together as often happens in French Polynesia).
One thing I do want to mention is the concierge, Josiane. She was simply outstanding. I'd been in contact with her briefly before we arrived, to ask a couple of questions and to pre-book the Catamaran Manu for the eco-tour. Not only did she remember me when I arrived (and then ask me how things had gone the previous day with what we'd arranged when she saw me in the lobby), but she was so much fun and so efficient! She had all sorts of excellent restaurant recommendations to make and helped me arrange activities that were the perfect fit for our family when the catamaran turned out to have mechanical difficulties and be unavailable the week we were there.
We did have a couple of minor issues while we were there. The shower in the room simply did not drain (you'd end up standing in four inches of gross water within minutes) and there was no water pressure... just a sad trickle (which left me wondering how the drain could back up like that!). The sinks also failed to drain. My husband fixed the sinks and the front desk did send someone to work on the shower, which improved slightly, but it was never good. The transit room in the hotel block had outstanding water pressure and drainage, so we appear to have just drawn the short end of the stick and made do. We also had an issue with mosquitos our first two days there, despite liberally coating ourselves with Deep Woods Off, particularly at the pool. In retrospect, this may have been because the hotel hadn't mowed the grass while they were roofing the section of the hotel right behind the pool and it was very high--about 4:00, a horde of little mosquitos came out and covered us! Same thing next day, except that we were prepared then to get up and run! The hotel mowed about a day and a half later and the problem never repeated itself. I also had a big encounter with mosquitos when I made the mistake of sitting on the deck at 5 a.m. to work on my book. Also, the safe in the room is small--it holds an iPad, but not a Macbook Pro. None of these were earthshaking and the hotel certainly did its best to fix what it could.
Some casual observations:
▪ The new pool bungalows look spectacularly private--we wandered through the gardens and most are very, very private (as in: all we could see was the greenery and surrounding flowers... you could do whatever you wanted in there!), and a few afforded a very small peak of the pool area.
▪ The fancy dinner restaurant seems to be borrowing a page from Le Lotus at the Tahiti Intercontinental. The food was good (and they'll give you a children's menu if you ask), but the desserts were spectacular. I had a raspberry dessert served on a slate plate that included a small glass bottle of raspberry sauce, an enormous raspberry macaroon with litchees and an ice cream ball.
▪ There is a small grocery across the street from the IC. This is apparently owned by Albert's and it's an extremely clever way to get you into the pearl shop! The people who work there are lovely and friendly and non-pushy, but it's really a pearl shop with several drinks coolers and two shelves of rather sad sundries. For cold drinks, though, it was a fantastic deal (actually cheaper than the main grocery in the village down the road) and had a decent selection of cold Hinano, sodas, and juice boxes. They also had Tahiti Drink and Rotui fruit juices. And, yes, we bought a pearl!
▪ When we arrived at the hotel, they gave us a letter explaining that, because we booked through a travel agent, they were offering free meals for the kids at the casual restaurant if the kids ate off the kids' menu. This was for kids 15 and under. Surprise! Yay! Even better, they gave us a letter stating this--it wasn't just a verbal thing. We did need the letter the first day in the lunch restaurant (the waiters thought it applied to 12 and under only), but it was a lovely gesture that we really, really appreciated. It also applied to breakfast.
▪ Snorkeling is my number one activity while on vacation. The easy access to the motus was a plus but, if you want the best snorkeling at the IC, you need to snorkel around the "real" overwater bungalows and the entrance to the channel between the mini-motus where the overwaters are and the hotel; there is also an excellent coral garden here, if you can get over the deeper bit where there are sometimes boats. The snorkeling in the channel between the beach bungalows and the overwaters was pleasant, but hardly spectacular. In other words, this resort isn't the best for onsite snorkeling (the Hilton wins hands-down, followed by the Sofitel and then the Pearl), but you can have a nice snorkel and spend a pleasant hour.
What we absolutely loved:
▪ The new porches. I loved having the half-covered, half-uncovered deck and the new lounge chairs were fantastic.
▪ The casual restaurant and the bar share a fantastic menu. We absolutely loved it. The crab gnocchi and the chicken yakitori with three pepper sauce were outstanding, and they made an excellent poisson cru as well. There is a charge for having room service delivered to your room (1200 XPF), but you can also order from the bar to go and they give you everything in plastic containers with plastic silverware and in a paper bag. We did this several times when we wanted a small snack between breakfast and dinner (and it's a great way to score some french fries!).
▪ The seafood soiree was outstanding. Buffets and shows are usually fun but we've done enough of them that we often pass due to the high ticket costs. Since we arrived at the hotel on Saturday, doing the buffet seemed like an easy way to eat. The food was actually outstanding. There were a number of fresh cooking stations for steak, fish filets, and shrimp skewers, plus there were chefs/cooks at all of the main stations to explain what the food and the accompanying sauces were. We can always figure out the desserts on our own (although there was a chef there, too!), but this made the whole meal so much better as we would have missed some lovely accompaniments otherwise.
▪ The motu transfers. The hotel will transfer you out to the motus where Hiro and Albert's do their picnics. It's 1400 XPF/person and you can stay in two hour blocks. This was a fun way to get in some excellent snorkeling and relax in peace and quiet on the motu... there was only one picnic going on when we went, and at the very far end of the leftmost motu.
▪ The concierge arranged a one hour boat rental with pilot for us. The kids wanted to do some more stingray feeding, so this was perfect. Our pilot was an absolutely gorgeous, super funny lady from the dive shop and she was outstanding with kids. For an hour, my kids got to be hands-on with the stingrays. My son even got to feed them and she showed him how to "ride" the rays. This was 19700 XPF for the hour and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
▪ The hotel makes repeat guests feel special. In addition to the room upgrade, a large bottle of water was delivered daily, and five nights out of six we had a little bamboo basket of fresh cookies. Our first night, the hotel delivered a beautifully cored Moorea pineapple. They also gave us the kids' meals at the seafood soiree, which was much appreciated.
▪ Everyone is just so nice! From the lady at the front desk who helped me straighten out our bill (there were a few little oopses on there that the hotel mistakenly included) to Josiane to the bellboy who played the ukelele and sang while we were waiting for our transfer back to Tahiti, it was just so warm and welcoming and laidback.
It was just a lovely, lovely trip, made perfect by the staff at the IC. Obviously, we're looking forward to returning either next year or the year after!
All of the rooms have pluses--it depends on your budget and what you value most. Beach bungalows hav...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.