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“A wedding with a holiday attached? this is for me!”

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The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Reviewed May 22, 2010

My daughter and her partner elected to marry in Rarotonga and the Rarotongan Beach Resort Wedding Co-ordinator did a wonderful job of organising everything, right to the last detail. The venue is perfect, the people are so friendly, the weather was warm and the food excellent. We had a small number of people attending the wedding so decided not to have a formal reception, instead we all opted to attend the Island Night Dinner as a group. When we arrived at the Restaurant, the tables had been arranged just like a wedding reception, beautifully decorated and the bride and groom's seats specially decorated - how lovely was that! We stayed at the Villa Onemaru which is part of the complex and just 5 minutes walk from the main Resort. This villa was a home away from home, beautiful pool, daybed, outdoor furniture, pool table, full cooking facilities and much more. The beds were sumptuous 4-posters in the two main bedrooms and sooo comfortable, the third room had single beds and plenty of them. The food at the restaurant is top class and very generous, the staff friendly and helpful and I can't wait to return as soon as I can

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled with family
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Thank Judyellen_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRM-CO, Manager at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded May 26, 2010

Kia Orana Judyellen_10! Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding with us at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa. It was our pleasure to host your wedding party and we’re so pleased you enjoyed your stay and the special touches. Our team were delighted to be of service, and we appreciate the time you have taken to post your lovely review. So often in life people can be quick to criticize but slow to praise, so it is always so nice for the staff to receive recognition for the good service they have provided. We are also pleased to hear you enjoyed our 3-bedroom private pool villa, Villa Onemaru ‘Soothing Sands’, which makes a great gathering place for a group such as yours – sometimes (so we’re told), too good a gathering place! We look forward to welcoming you and your family back to The Rarotongan again soon, perhaps for an anniversary celebration! Kia Manuia!

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Reviewed May 20, 2010

This was our third visit to the Cook Islands and we chose the Rarotongan because it is well known for it's great snorkeling and for being a great place for kids. We stayed in a beachfront room which was very small and the bathroom is in desperate need of an upgrade and a good clean. No this is not a 4 star hotel, some parts a getting tired and the food and cocktails avaiable in the Bar and Restaurant is very average. The pool is good but with such an amazing Lagoon on the doorstep who wants to swim in the very cold pool. The staff who are mostly Fijian are very friendly and deserve recognition for the excellent job they do. The cheeky young guys at the activities hut where awesome and very helpful, without them the hotel would be quite boring. We did find the Rarotongan a bit big and "Hi de Hi" for our liking and would probably go back to a smaller Hotel on our next visit. The Aroa Lagoon is by far the best place in Raro to snorkel and we spent many hours enjoying the many colourful fish. It was also very safe and our 10 yr old daughter felt confident to explore the lagoon and master snorkelling. The Kids Club didn't interest our daughter but I think if you where holidaying with more than 1 child this would be a different case and might give some parents a well earned break. The Rarotongan is a mixed bag and I don't think we got great value for money and those beachfront rooms a very small, or some might say cosy.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled with family
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Thank sunlover093
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2010

We were at this Resort for 14 days - here is a list of some of our unhappinesses!
Our spa bath did not work for the 1st 6 days – phoned maintenance repeatedly and it was only fixed on the 6th day of our stay.
• At the Hibiscus Hut (a café type shop at resort) there was no ice-cream, lemonade etc on a number of days.
• They advertised that they had about 6 flavors of ice-cream. On only 3 days of our stay did they have more than 1 flavor, which was coconut. Having 2 hot children that wanted ice-cream and didn’t like coconut – made it very hard.The Manager said "the ship hadn't arrived" - yet there was iceream available in the supermarkets in town.

• On one of the nights, the bar had run out of Vodka.
• At the Tropical breakfast – both the pineapple and orange juices were rotten on our last morning.
• The Ricies breakfast cereal served was past its expiry date.

There is no Teen Club, as advertised. It is only a room with Slot machine type games that require coins. There are no teenage organised activities – only those for kids aged 4-11 and those advertised for the whole family.
• The cocktails cost $14.90 upwards, whereas at local Restaurants they were around $12.
• We went to Tamarind House Restaurant, Trader Jacks and The Yellow Hibiscus – all of which served excellent food at reasonable prices. The food at the Rarotongan beach Resort was of an inferior quality and more expensive.
I could go on and on giving examples......

The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa was not good value for money. The prices paid for the room, food and drinks suggest that it is a 5 star resort, but the quality definitely is NOT! The Rarotongan shouldn’t be advertised as 5 stars.

We feel that The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa probably was a 5 star many years ago - but the buildings and facilities are now about a 3 star (if that).
The only redeeeming feature is that the staff(Fijian and Cook Islanders) are very friendly.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank SmilingSusan46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2010

I am not quite sure how to rate this resort -- some aspects were great, some were not so great. I think it's fair to say though that marketing this resort as a fou star property is probably overselling it a bit.

The good stuff --

Great beach, great snorkelling, lots of kayaks and free snorkelling equipment. Lots of beach loungers. Lovely clientelle, very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoyed Managers Cocktail Party (two per week) and meeting other guests.

Huge range of activities and excellent activities staff. Equipment (tennis rackets, kayaks, snorkel gear etc) was generally in excellent condition.

Excellent, friendly and helpful service (with the exception of restaurant staff -- see below). Front desk staff was lovely as were all other staff we encountered, other than the food and beverage team.

Management very responsive to problems/complaints (had issue with room which was quickly and uneventfully resolved)

Deluxe beachside rooms are lovely and well appointed. Rooms clean and well maintained. Worth upgrading from Garden rooms.

Used the wireless service (own computer) and found this a bit slow, but reliable and reasonably priced.

The disappointments --

This resort is probably a bit "oversold" as a four star resort as it is quite tired and dated. Pool was dirty (cloudy murky water throughout our one week stay) and tended to be overrun with unsupervised children. Limited seating around pool, and not particularly comfortable. If you're a pool person not a beach person would not recomend this resort.

Food and beverage service was poor. Food quality was disappointing, kids mocktails consisted of soda water and food colouring, and an endless wait for food and beverage service (bordering on the ridiculous). Bar service was essentially self serve at the counter as no one bothered to come to the tables.

Kids club is on the second floor of the main building and is not air conditioned. Kids spend most of the day indoors (other than 20 mins/day of outdoor games). Many kids simply parked in front of the TV with staff appearing disinterested in engaging with them. Very disappointing, as this was one of the big draw cards to us for this particular resort and we stopped using it on the second day.

Resort enforces quite high late checkout charges, with no exceptions. Charges $95 for the first four hours and $15 per hour after that. Some flexibility would have been nice...

In summary? Great location, great potential, and perfectly fine if your're not the high maintenance sort. Would recommend renting a car/scooter for duration of visit as there are heaps of great restaurants on the island, and resorf food and beverage service was disappointing.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled with family
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Thank kiwitravellers-7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2010

We booked our holiday through Air New Zealand and selected the Raratongan based on their location (a marine reserve) and their Moko kids club. We spent both Christmas and New Years at the resort. We had such a great time that we're now planning our second trip. (May 2010)

The resort staff are friendly and professional. If you are expecting a club-med experience or a high-end north-american resort, say like the Fairmont or Hyatt, then you'll be disappointed. The Rarotongan is all about unwinding and relaxation. We met so many wonderful guests at the hotel and this increased our satisfaction immensely. And this is one of the key reasons why we're heading back. The relaxed and unpretentious vibe of the Rartongan is the part of its charm.

We were never worried about finding another couple to have drinks or got out for dinner. In fact, one of our best memories, was our impromptu "commonwealth Christmas dinner" at the resort. Our beachfront table was comprised of Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians (us three).

The beachfront property is stunning and the swimming/snorkelling second-to-none. We stayed in a beachfront room for the first two weeks (smallish, inconsistent water pressure) and then upgraded for our last week to the grand beachfront suite (heaven, indoor/outdoor water shower, microvawe, fridge and stovetop). The front desk activities manager was very helpful and arranged both our day-trip to Aitutaki and our 'safari' adventure.

Our four-year old couldn't get enough of the kids club and loved all of the activities. The staff looking after the kids are very pleasant, warm and caring. Our daughter is quite fair and got quite a bit of sun in our first week and the kids camp staff always made sure she wore her hat and had adequate sun-screen. She also came down with swimmer's ear (high temperature and earache) and we had to make an emergency trip to the hospital in the middle of the night and the staff had a vehicle for us out front (with a driver) within five minutes.

The breakfast buffet was yummy with tons of fresh fruit and fresh baked goods. It's true Captain Andy's has a bit of a self-serve vibe. Grab a menu - let the bartender know where you'll be sitting - and, I promise, your server (and food) will find you. Take advantage of the drink specials and stick around for the evening activities (crab races, crab hunting, night snorkelling, karaoke and trivia) and you won't be disappointed. That being said, car and scooter rentals are cheap, and the island has tons of great places to eat. (Sails at the Sailing Club, for example and a great little Swedish Cafe, as one other) We found the prices at the resort to be comparable to those in town. (Keep in mind that the Cook Islands is in the middle of the Pacific everything needs to be transported.)

The resort was in the process of opening up their new sanctuary spa and I can't wait to try it out when we go back. They are also making a section of the resort adult-only which should appease those looking for a more private and quiet getaway. The main pool was also being upgraded while we were there but we didn't mind all the construction as the beachfont is spectacular.

We highly recommend splitting your time between the Rarotongan Resort and their sister hotel in Aitutaki (if you're going for longer than one week.) Oh, and if the hotel hosts an evening with the ORAMA Cultural Performing Arts Troupe - be sure to attend. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with family
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6  Thank discontenteddiva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2010

What a fantastic location, right on a marine reserve with amazing fish and coral reefs to get up close & personal with. We originally booked our 10 days there with a deluxe beach front suite, however on our 3rd day the air conditioning unit went out in our room, the gracious staff not only listened to our concerns but when it was apparrent that the unit would be broken for an extended amount of time they moved us to a new room and they upgraded us to the Grand Deluxe Beachfront Suite! The staff, from the cleaners to the activities staff (and everyone in between) were polite, professional and really seemed to care that you were enjoying your stay. We highly recommend this resort to anyone going to the Cook Islands. They made our 15th wedding anniversary one to remember forever!!!

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank TanLovers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2010

Firstly---disregard the photographs--most of them are from the sister island in Atituki.
Cost from airport in hotel bus (12 minutes) £52----The local bus charges £3 to travel around the whole island. As all flights land early morning (6am onwards)--- early check in cost an additional £52. All flights are late in the evening---late check out--costs £54---and as most of the rooms were unoccupied there was no additional cost to the hotel---a real rip off. The menu is limited and the food relatively poor and expensive and reception staff were uninterested when we stated that we considered there prices to be unreasonable. The rooms were dark and dingy-no entertainment--boring nights--AVOID this resort---2 star at best-this is the first negative report I have ever written after 38 years travel--so I don't complain--following this location we had a further 4 hotels without any significant problems---good luck going somewhere else.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank harry4444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRM-CO, Manager at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded May 27, 2010

Kia Orana harry4444, and thank you for taking the time to write a review of The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa. From reading your review, it seems that you and the Resort were a very bad fit, and that your expectations may have been better served by a budget property.
First off, ALL of the photos on our Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa website are taken by our own photographer and are most definitely of our resort. For you to say the photos are of a different location is simply incorrect. It is such a shame that complete untruths such as the one you have stated as fact can pass through to a wider readership and be allowed to mis-lead the traveling public. The photos of The Rarotongan on TripAdvisor are by our valued guests, who have taken these photos themselves, while staying at our Resort, and have personally uploaded them onto the site.
We offer an Airport Meet & Greet service with fresh flower ei (lei), roundtrip transfers between the airport and the Resort, and a welcome tropical drink. The bus that services The Rarotongan is owned and operated by a local transfer service company, and we pay them for this service. You will note that resorts throughout Rarotonga use the same service, and you will also note that transfer rates are very similar. The charge for this complete Return Service is only NZ$55 per adult; an extremely reasonable charge for two-way airport-resort transfers with the additional services above, in anyone’s language, anywhere in the world. The local round-island bus is not a dedicated transfer operation, and does not operate overnight. So you are comparing a local bus service and fare with a dedicated, air-conditioned airport coach transfer service with personal meet & greet, lei and drink, which amounts to faulty reasoning with all due respect.
You are correct in stating that many flights to Rarotonga (but by no means, all) arrive and depart either late in the evening or early in the morning. The Rarotongan’s check-in time is 2pm,and check-out time is 10am. No surprises there; those are very standard times at hotels and resorts world-wide. We offer our guests the convenience of an Early Check-in or Late Check-Out service for a reasonable fee; again no surprises there, this is standard practice at hotels and resorts worldwide to help cover the costs of providing these services. Most of our guests who depart on late flights choose to check out later in the evening. Also, early arriving guests have the opportunity to check into their rooms upon arrival, which is very convenient after a long international flight. However, in order for us to offer these early check-ins and late check-outs, we need to service the rooms. If a guest is checking out at midnight, and that room needs to be serviced so as to be fresh and ready for a 6am arrival, we must employ housekeeping staff to service these rooms in the middle of the night. To say that there is no additional cost to us is again, simply incorrect.
We offer a wide range of room types, and all are decorated in a fresh, bright island-style, with either a garden or absolute beachfront outlook. We’re unsure whether you are referring more to a state of mind than a physical space when you describe your room as ‘dark and dingy’.
Unlike most resort hotels I have visited around the world (eg Fiji, Australia, Hawaii etc) where you have to pay additional fees for activities, at The Rarotongan we offer our guests so much more additional value for their dollar by offering a HUGE range of FREE DAILY activities - snorkelling, kayaking, fish-feeding, try scuba in the pool, tennis, a variety of beach sports, guided village walks, learn to dance the hula, make a lei, play the ukulele, play the island log drums, coconut tree climbing and husking show, gym, quiz nights and much more. Such a long way from ‘boring’ and regrettably, despite the principle of ‘credit where credit’s due, you make no mention of these.
Our daily guest newsletter highlights the activities programme for the day along with that night’s dining specials and entertainment. People are of course entitled to their own personal opinion, but to say that the menu is ‘limited’ is simply a falsehood. We provide easily the most extensive and comprehensive all-day regular menu on the island (or most anywhere) – but wait, there’s more, we also provide a wide range of other dining options, including our cheap and cheerful Hibiscus Hut kiosk for pies, sandwiches, filled rolls, drinks etc, right through to steaks, seafood, salads, pizzas, pastas and more at Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill, private fine dining in the Gazebo, our Island BBQ with Fire Dance Show, our ‘Legends of Polynesia’ Island Night with Drum Dance Show, plus karaoke, crab racing and more. Our chefs regularly receive compliments from appreciative diners for the quality of their food.
Reception staff are not responsible for transfer bus charges, early-check-in/late check-out charges or menu prices, so we’re not sure quite what you were expecting them to say. We do have a Duty Manager however whose name is posted at Front Desk and it would have been more appropriate if you had any genuine gripes to have directed these to that person.
There is an old saying from your part of the world, “There’s no pleasing some people” and this seems particularly apt in your case, if you’ll pardon me saying so.
Harry4444, as hotels in Belfast do, we make our living by selling rooms. We are a locally-owned business and provide a much-needed employment opportunity for our staff, all of whom need to be paid at the end of the working week. All of our charges are very reasonable (many have not been raised for a long while despite spiraling costs!) and all of them are very much in line with standard practice worldwide at 4 star resorts and hotels. The Cook Islands lives by tourism, so it is important that travellers who come to enjoy our special slice of paradise understand that we greatly value the contribution they are making to our little local economy without which none of us could survive.
We are sincerely sorry that you seem to have chosen the wrong place for your stay in the Cook Islands, as this has led to a lose-lose both for you and for us. Your expectations of somewhere cheaper would have been better served by a budget property. We continue to provide a wonderful, authentic Cook Islands experience to our guests wanting a full-service, 4-star resort, and you can read many of their reviews on our own website or on TripAdvisor. Kia Manuia!

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Additional Information about The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa

Address: Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve | Aroa, 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 Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Price Range: $150 - $330 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 112
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Slip off your watch, your shoes, your cares and immerse yourself in paradise at the renowned Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa. Hand feed the friendly reef fish or snorkel straight off the white sands of Aroa Beach in the crystal clear blue waters of Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve and enjoy Rarotonga’s best snorkeling (the resort’s guided Night Snorkeling Tours are a special treat!). The all-tide lagoon is also perfect for stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, included as part of The Rarotongan’s extensive FREE Daily Activities Programme. The Rarotongan is located directly on Rarotonga’s best white sandy beach, Aroa Beach, on the island’s sunshine southwest coast. The Rarotongan is also Rarotonga’s most family-friendly resort and offers FREE Moko’s Kids Club, Little Dolphin’s Mini Waterpark and Teen Zone. Kids & Teens Stay & Play FREE (aged to 16 years)! Kids aged 4-11 years Play Free @ Moko’s Kids Club, and teens aged 12-16 years Play Free in Teen Zone. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Rarotongan Beach Resort And Spa
The Rarotongan Beach Hotel Aroa Beach
Rarotongan Beach Resort Spa
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa Rarotonga/Aroa Beach

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