It's not often that I feel that a resort is bad enough for a terrible all-over review but regrettably this one is pretty bad. Easily the worst place we have ever stayed in, in this price range.
I was a bit worried about the management here when my emails were taking 5-7 days to receive a reply to before we arrived, and it turns out rightly so.
This resort is sadly let down by a few uncaring, inattentive, staff, mainly the restaurant & bar staff, which must be a reflection of management, and also let down by over inflated claims as to it's standards.
You cannot avoid these staff members either as there is no "front desk" here - you virtually check in & make all enquiries at the bar.
Nothing here met our expectations I am sad to say. And therin lies the problem.
The resort claims to be a lot flasher / better / luxurious / than it actually is.
This is a resort that rates itself at 4 stars, but in reality, it's probably 2.5
The rooms are only just tolerable - small, cramped, and totally lacking in comfort.
You cannot watch TV in bed or on the couch comfortably, as it is situated so badly to one side, You can't get past the bed to get to the door or bathroom if someone is using the desk or opening the fridge.
The bathroom is very nice but not very private as you can hear everything through the louvres.
Keeping in mind this resort is marketed as an up market luxury resort and we paid $400 a night for our room,
I think I have a right to be quite harsh here. It's not like it was fairly priced.
The rooms do open onto the beach which is lovely but if the southeasterly ( predominant I am told) blows in then you are in for a windy time if you want to sit out front.
All the rooms face South to South East - don't be fooled by the name "Rarotongan Sunset" next door. You will get no evening sun here and you won't see the sunset.
Still, they are well located and it's very nice to wake up and see the sea and sand from your door.
You can't get much more beachfront than this.
One other good thing I can say about them is that they are reasonably clean ( but don't look under the bed!) and well lit. And the wifi is excellent though expensive.
We met 3 other guests here who like us were equally unhappy, and we were all stuck too as the resort takes full payment well in advance, in our case nearly 8 months in advance, so you can't just leave.
No one we met wanted to eat here, and those that did, never ate here again.
The included breakfast is pretty bad, the table cloths had the same stains on them for our entire stay so they were never cleaned, though the cooked breakfast is good, you do have to be prepared to wait a long time for it.
Basically if it was $200 a night it might be a bit more appealing, but for $400 it's a rip off.
The bed was the worst we have ever slept in - we both only got about 3 hours sleep a night here.
The bed was never made properly each day either - when you got in it, the under sheet and mattress protector were still all scrunched up from the night before.
The pool area is sadly tragic - nothing like the photos.
The swim up bar that they rave about in their ads did not open once the whole time we were here
and the Japanese Restaurant also remained closed the whole time.
There is no "lounge area" , no nice comfy arm chairs or anywhere nice to enjoy a cocktail or coffee.
Speaking of coffee, here's an excerpt of a conversation heard at the restaurant:
"May I have an espresso please?" Response from staff: "No, we have no beans."
I think if this was your first trip overseas you might be naively happy here, perhaps if you had not had much experience of nicer resorts but for experienced luxury travellers this is a hotel to avoid.
We did complain to the front desk once, and were told we had to take out complaints to the relevant head of department. We asked it they could just be passed on and were told "no".
To add insult to injury, we were not even on the list for our airport transfers that we had paid for and confirmed the day before and again that morning, and it was only by chance that we made it to our flight.
There are some positives, the beach is just lovely and the snorkelling is amazing especially if you snorkel well out close to the surrounding reef. You can swim at all tides here and the fish are plentiful and friendly.
The sister resort next door has a nicer beach, but I certainly would not stay there or drink there, it's worse than this one!
There is some irony here that once we got home and told friends and family about this, two of them said they had also stayed here last year and also hated it! Both said they refused to eat here.
The whole management team here needs a shake up and the advertising for this place needs to be more honest.
And to the manager, when you are replying here as I am sure you will, nothing you say can here will make up for having nothing at all to say to us at the time when we were at your front desk trying to bring all this to your attention, and no one cared or wanted to hear it.
- 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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- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, Agoda, Travelocity, Booking.com, TripOnline SA and HotelQuickly so you can book your Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Hotel Aroa Beach
- Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Aroa Beach