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“Fantastic holiday”

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Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Auckland Region, New Zealand
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Fantastic holiday”
Reviewed January 5, 2011

This is our fifth trip to Rarotonga, however the first time at this resort. This resort was lovely; fantastic location with great service. The lagoon view from our room/balcony was out of this world! The staff went out of their way to organise a romantic dinner for us which was extra special.
All rooms have a lovely balcony with differing views of the water - ask for a full lagoon view (middle block).
The swim up bar in the pool is perfect especially for trying the 'cocktail of the day'.
Breakfasts included are continental ... just watch out for the birds! We highly recommend this resort.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank MKJC09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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465 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (185)
Date | Rating
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English first
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2010

We got married at the rarotongan resort and got upgraded to the sanctuary. Our room (620) actually had a spa/sauna/steam room in the room which was WOW, we used the spa every day as it was quite overcast/rainy for some of our trip. While it was nice it had some flaws like in the bathroom there was grout/paint/marks all over the place and our floor was never swept/mopped so by the end of our stay it was all sandy and sticky. Food was pretty good and well priced and the cocktails were strong.
Breakfasts were awesome, beach/snorkeling was great.
Few of the nights there were some loud gatherings both in rooms and by the pool (past midnight) and the staff didnt bother to tell them to quieten down which i found a bit rude. Will defiantly be going back but for the price wont be staying at the rarotongan/sanctuary purely because there are more cheaper (possibly better) options available.

Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank Tanyao0o
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRM-CO, Manager at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, November 10, 2010
Kia Orana TanyaoOo and thanks for your review of Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach. CONGRATULATIONS on getting married at The Rarotongan – what a beautiful location for your tropical wedding. It was indeed our pleasure upgrading you and your new husband to our adults-only resort, Sanctuary Rarotonga. We are so glad that you enjoyed your room, especially your spa/sauna/steam room. What a great treat! We are pleased to hear that you enjoyed your meals and cocktails. Thank you for your feedback about housekeeping and room condition issues – we just wish you had mentioned this to our Management team while you were at the resort, as this is a very easy fix. We will be bringing up your comments to our Housekeeping Staff, to ensure that all floors continue to get swept and mopped daily. As for the noise from the pool area, we sometimes get guests who become fast friends, and because our pool and bar area is such a popular hangout for guests, they tend to use this beautiful area as much as possible. Our Management team will discuss how we can both encourage guest friendships and socialization, while also trying to keep the noise down for all guests.
We do hope that when you return to the Cook Islands, you consider another stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga. We feel that our rates are extremely competitive. As you have noted in your review, Sanctuary offers many FREE items for our guests: free ‘awesome’ tropical buffet breakfast, snorkeling, sea kayaking, daily activities programme, and loads of free activities. These free items certainly need to be taken into account when determining whether a holiday is a good value or not. We are convinced that, when you combine the unsurpassed beauty of our location, our gorgeous rooms, the many free resort activities, free breakfast buffet, and access to the island’s best sights and excursions, you will be hard pressed to find a better value than Sanctuary Rarotonga. Again, congratulations on your wedding, and thank you for sharing your very special day with us. We hope to see you again, very soon.
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Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2010

We stayed 11 nights flying in with Air New Zealand. The resort was excellent. Only 25m from the lagoon edge. The accomodation was clean tidy and well maintained. everything worked. The Sanctuary restaurants were a bit dissapointing and we found best value at Captain Andy's in the adjacent part of the resort. The staff were helpful and the cocktail of the day is a must. Arrangements for trips was easily done, all billable to the room. We did Muri lagoon cruise with Koka's. Was superb day out. The Aitutaki day trip and lagoon cruise was excellent. The progressive dinner wonderful. We hired a car for one day and did a self drive tour of the island with an MP3 player (Mia Tours) telling the history and the significance of each stopping point. we snorkelled and swam every day. Visibility 30+m, water temp 26 . I did two dives with Cook Island Divers who I can really recommend. All in all an excellent holiday

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Kiwifrank
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2010

We arrived at the resort early morning, approx 2am, and there were quiet a few people to book in, but only one staff member to book us in etc, which was quite frustrating, considering the purpose of going on this Holiday was to relax and unwind, being from ChCh, the city that rocks :). We got to our room and it was great for location, privacy and view, block 700 is the units to book, which I had emailed previously to request, having read previous reviews and would recommend, it is away from the Bar / pool / reception area and we were on the ground floor with great lagoon / sea views. The room was nice and spacious with a large comfortable bed, aircon,standard ensuite etc.

The Sanctuary is a part of the Rarotongan resort, as stated and is open to Sanctuary guests. We only went to that end for a meal, Orientation tour which was not, and to sign out snorkel equipment, other than that you would not know it exsisted. The sanctuary is very much child free which is nice apart from the squels and screams ocassionally from when they Kayak down the Sanctuary end of the lagoon.

There is no value for money in the meals / drinks at the resort considering the price you pay for the accomadation alone. I reccomend venturing out into town for value, Trader Jacks and Fire Tree to name our favs. Also BYO / Duty free

The layout of the Sanctuary is nice and easy, I had no probs with the pool considering its a tropical island and the temp not being "Cold" as some have suggested. The Bar and food service was average with it hard getting postive / friendly interaction with most staff, hence you get you fav 1 or 2 that have this.

We hired a scooter and found this a great way to get around the island. We had no issues or near misses with any other vehicles / animals and was cheap way to see the sights. They have buses approx every 30 mins but for the length of stay it would be best to hire a scooter or car, plus you get a Cook Islands drivers licence which is valid for 2 years at a cost of 20 dollars and a great souviner.

Overall the resort served its purpose for us to relax, unwind and chill. I am unsure if the resort self proclaims itself as 5 Star, as having staryed at such resorts / hotels globally and seeing other resorts on the Island I would not class it as such but each to their own. None the less we enjoyed Rarotonga as a Holiday destination, we would go back to the Cook Islands but would probably consider to stay elsewhere

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Fergierc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Geelong, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 19, 2010

Had been apprehensive about what we were going to find when we got there as the reviews were either good or not very good. We were original due to stay at the Rarotonga Beach Resort and Spa but I decided to upgrade our room (after reading many reviews) which then enabled us to get an upgrade to Sanctuary Rarotonga. Glad we did that!! We had a nice beachfront room with a fabulous view. The room was nice but I wouldn't say it was outstanding as lead to believe but glad we upgraded.

Staying at Sanctuary Raro entitles you to use the facilities of its sister resort but really apart from the adults only pool (which was rather cold) it really doesn't mean too much. The staff we encountered were lovely and friendly. The food and drink service was okay. Important to do some reading about the Cook Islands to get an understanding of how things run. Some days you would be able to have a selection of ice cream at the H. Hut and others not much at all. This also was the case for breakfast with spreads for ones toast.

The lagoon area is the BEST for snorkeling and the fish are amazing and we tried a few locations.

The whole resort - Rarotonga Beach Resort and Spa and Sanctuary Rarotonga really need to be given a good tidy up to freshen up the look of the place. I would recommend this to friends but I would point out things so that they understood what to expect. Overall we had a wonderful stay but it is a place for chilling out and not for raging!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank McKenzo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NSW
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 29, 2010

Previous comments refer to blocks - very appropriate. The hotel describes the accommodation as 5 star and new. Neither were true. Rooms are poorly insulated (could hear next door's bathroom acitivities) and ours was the size of a low star rated motel room in Oz. Our bathroom smelled of dead animal. A whole day was spent out of the room to allow the plumber to deal with it, then it was inadequately cleaned. No apology was forthcoming from the evasive manager. Our view was of a pile of garden rubbish and the barrack block we stayed in backed onto the road - noisy. Staff seemed overworked and there seemed to be too few. There was a swim up bar as described but not always enough staff for service.
This was the third resort we stayed in our two week visit to the islands and it was really inferior compared to the others. If you want to experience a night or two of real 5 star luxury go to Pacific Resort at Aitutaki - very pricey but really worth it.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank frequentravellerNsw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRM-CO, Manager at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, November 10, 2010
Kia Orana frequentravllerNsw and thanks for taking the time to write a review of Sanctuary Rarotonga. The premier location of Sanctuary Rarotonga is directly on the white sand beaches of Aroa Lagoon – a protected marine sanctuary. The Beachfront Suites are located in a two story building that is tropically decorated with thatched roofs, sand coloured exterious, spacious balconies and verandahs, and lovely décor – hardly what anyone would classify as ‘barracks’. The first floor suites have direct access to the white sandy beach, while the second floor suites feature vaulted ceilings, and amazing views from the large balcony. The buildings in which the suites are located are solid construction, with very thick and insulated block walls, which makes your comment about noisy neighbours and road noise particularly interesting. We apologize if your neighbours made too much noise. As you know, all resorts on Rarotonga are relatively close to the main circle island road.
When you requested that we service the bathroom in your Suite, we immediately sent a maintenance worker in to fix it. Had we known it was a bigger project, we most certainly would have relocated you to a different suite. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the maintenance work was going to take so long, and for that we apologize.
Our very hard working staff does its best to keep our white sand beach clean and free of debris. This involves regular raking and cleaning of the beach, which is collected into piles of garden waste, that are then removed and appropriately disposed. We are sincerely sorry if you did see some of our garden clippings before we had a chance to dispose of it.
Again, we thank you for taking the time to write a review, and for visiting Sanctuary Rarotonga.
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Travelers are raving about these Aroa Beach hotels

Auckland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 26, 2010

If my expectations had been set lower I would have thought Sanctuary was really nice. It's described as "luxury" and "new" but is simply a part of the Rarotongan resort re-branded as the Sanctuary. The room we stayed in was a bit tired and the finishing, particularly in the bathroom, left a bit to be desired. So my intial impression wasn't great.

We were in the block closest to reception. The room was comfortable and wasn't lacking anything. Coffee, milk, etc were replenished whenever we asked. Toiletries were replenished daily. The view from our upstairs room was okay apart from the large rocks directly in front (to stop erosion of the beach), the main Rarotongan Resort restaurant on the right and the other blocks of Sanctuary rooms on the left. Being so close to reception/bar/pool and the restaurant next door it was a bit noisy at times (at night).

For a "luxury" resort I wasn't overly impressed with the pool and eating areas. There's nothing wrong with them, they're just not luxury standard.

As per another comment about this resort - ask for a room furthest from reception if you want the nicest part of the beach or would prefer a quieter room.

If you want a lounger on the beach, ask for a downstairs room. Everyone in these rooms grabbed 2 loungers and pulled them right up to their doors as if they owned them. The loungers around the pool filled up quickly too as it's only a smallish area.

The free continental breakfasts are fine, with something to suit most people. We had 2 lunches, from the poolside menu, which were okay. We had 1 tepanyaki meal in the main restaurant. It was absolutely delicious and the service was excellent - but so it should have been because most of the night we were the only couple there.

The staff were mostly excellent - friendly and knew what they were doing. We had a couple of small problems in the room which were sorted out promptly.

As for adults only - being immediately next to the Rarotongan (walk to the end of the main restaurant and you're at the Sanctuary), there are always going to be kids around or very close by, especially is you're in the closest block of rooms.

I would recommend Sanctuary to others if there was a particularly good deal available and as long as I set their expectations correctly.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank RALAuckland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRM-CO, Manager at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, November 10, 2010
Kia Orana RALAuckland and thank you for visiting Sanctuary Rarotonga. We really appreciate you taking the time to write a review, as we value all guest feedback. This allows us to address issues of concern in our constant attempt to improve our resort and services.
The concept and definition of ‘Luxury’ differs from person to person. We would certainly make the case that Sanctuary Rarotonga has a lot of Luxury touches: our second-to-none location on Aroa Lagoon; our attentive and friendly staff; our extensive free resort activities and daily activities programme; our luxury SpaPolyesia spa facility, and more. While offering luxurious amenities, we also recognize the need to offer a laidback and unpretentious atmosphere.
We are so glad to hear that you enjoyed your meals while at Sanctuary. This is something at which we have been hard at work, and our Teppanyaki concept restaurant is brand new in Rarotonga.
Thank you also for your very kind words about our friendly staff. It is the amazing team here at Sanctuary Rarotonga that makes a stay here so very special. It is important to note that we do offer attentive service, and we are glad that we were able to so quickly address and fix your concerns during your stay. You would be surpised to know how many people don’t advise us of problems during their stay, and instead of us having the opportunity to fix them, we have to unfortunately read about them in reviews after the guest returns home. Problems and concerns can so quickly be addressed with simple communication.
We thank you for recommending Sanctuary Rarotonga – and YES we do have some amazing specials available for travel during our special Frangipani travel season. We hope your friends and family take advantage of some of these great specials.
Thanks again for visiting Sanctuary Rarotonga and we hope you consider returning to Sanctuary on your next visit to Rarotonga.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach

Property: 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 Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
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: 49
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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