On arrival to the IC Moorea, we were greeted by a very friendly Polynesian check in staff in Polynesian clothing. (I say this because if you go to Bora Bora IC Thalasso and Spa the staff there are dressed more in a hotel uniform) We were given a welcome drink (of orange/tropical juice) while we completed the paperwork. A porter then took us via golf cart to our OWB, which was 512. The OWB is nice, being a tropical island it's different to a modern 5 star room or suite. (I draw comparison to IC Bora Bora Thalasso, the bungalow there is much more modern and significantly more luxurious – typical of what you would imagine a 5 star resort in a tropical resort would be like – of course you pay a bit more in Bora Bora). But the IC Moorea bungalow is nice in it's own way and spacious enough, although the separate toilet is a bit of a squeeze. Bungalow 512 unfortunately or fortunately has coral underneath it, when you climb down the ladder, you are up to your knees in water. There were many different fish swimming amongst the coral which made for great snorkelling. Compared to the other OWB around us, it was not possible to dive in. We had to walk maybe 10 meters off the coral to reach the deeper water. It would have been nice to be able to dive off our deck straight into the water. If you want shallow water, this is the bungalow for you. The second thing which came as a surprise, is the water is actually an emerald green colour, not the light blue sky colour you imagine a tropical island paradise to be. (The colour of the Bora Bora water is what you imagine a tropical island paradise to be).
The bed was a comfortable king size bed, the ensuite had two sinks, a bathtub, a shower and a toilet. There was a separate sitting area, with desk, plus an outdoor deck with a ladder going down to the water.
Nice large arc shaped infinity pool with pool bar.
Large rectangular above ground infinity pool.
Adequate number of sun lounges etc, plus shadecloth covered sun lounges, tables / chairs.
These shadecloth covered areas are handy as the sun during the day is scorching hot! (at least at this time of the year!)
Food and Drink
Before I came to Moorea / Bora Bora I had read quite a lot of reports that the resort is expensive. Just to give you an idea, where I live in Australia (Cairns – great barrier reef), a McDonalds Big Mac is $5, an entree from a resta is generally $15-20 USD, a decent piece of steak in Australia will cost you $30-40 USD, a pizza from a restaurant is $25 USD, a hamburger / fries from a restaurant will be $18-20 USD. A good plate of pasta – 25 USD. Of course, having been to the USA myself previously, the prices in Australia are definitely more than what you pay for a similar meal in the USA. You won't beat the Bellagio (Las Vegas) buffet for price and variety but that is probably one extreme of how awesome food prices are in the USA. There are no free refills of drinks in Australia. So I wasn't overly shocked by the prices of meals here in Moorea although those from the USA would find prices here more expensive.
Breakfast – (in Fare Nui restaurant) - buffet has all the usual breakfast buffet things – fruits, youghurts, cereals, pastries, juices hot selections – bacon, scrambled eggs, beans, tomato, sausages. Eggs cooked to your liking. Fruit juices. Coffee etc. Nicely laid out in a nice tropical setting. If not included in the meal plan, this buffet will cost you 3701 XFP per person. (3850 XFP pp in IC Bora Bora Thalasso – much the same food, more modern / luxurious looking dining area and decor).
Lunch menu – we either ate down by the pool bar or at the casual restaurant (Fare Hana) under the more formal restaurant (Fare Nui) which also serves as the breakfast restaurant. Again to give you an idea – a caesar salad 1950 XFP, caesar salad with tuna or chicken skewers 2250 XFP, pizza 2000 XFP, various burgers 2000 XFP. Sirloin steak 2500 XFP. This food is fine. A sprite is 350 XFP, bottled mineral water 600 XFP. Again generally on par with prices in Australia! Cocktails alcoholic 1400 XFP and non alcoholic 1200XFP.
Dinner – you can choose to eat the casual menu in Fare Hana (same as lunch menu) or eat upstairs in the Fare Nui restaurant. You have a better selection and more speciality dishes. From memory one night I had the parrot fish fillet over rice (a bit more elaborate than I've just described), this was somewhere around 2900 XFP or so. The presentation is excellent. The most expensive dish from the restaurant was the lobster tail plus lasagne (again more elaborate than i've described), however this was ~ 5000 XFP. I didn't try this as the waitress said it wasn't a very big meal and the parrot fish was more substantial.
On certain nights and when there's more people they have special buffet nights, special theme nights, BBQ beach nights, but during our stay here, we didn't have an opportunity to try this.
For a bit of variety there are other restaurants around the island. There's a restaurant directly across from the IC Moorea, the “Las Villas Des Sens” (Legends Resort). This is about 50m from the road, visible from the main road. Very nice fine dining, very well presented, well worth a try if you'd like a change from Fare Nui. Entrees around 2600 XFP, mains 3000-3500 XFP.
My wife and I tried out the day spa, we both had a shoulder/neck/back massage – 9400 XFP. Very relaxing.
Snorkelling gear – is free to use, but they take a 4000 XFP deposit per person, refundable upon returning the gear.
We were going to hire a car and drive round the island (8 hours – 8100XFP) however we decided on the Catamaran Mana round the island tour by boat (8500 XFP). This was definitely the thing to do, 4 hours in total, great commentary by Bernard the French skipper. There were only 5 passengers on board. We swam with reef sharks, sting rays, saw dolphins, plus all the beauty that Moorea has to offer. The water colour in different parts of the island are your various shades of blue, reminescent of what you see in the glossy island brochures. Plus you get a glimpse of what the other resort OWB look like too. The OWB of the sofitel and The Pearl Resort appear to have the light blue water colour you see in brochures. The hilton appears to be in deep blue water. That leaves the Intercontinental with it's emerald green water.
We don't speak French but we found the staff were friendly and helpful (despite what others have commented)
A particularly cheerful and friendly reception Polynesian staff member was Wilnie
Traveller tips at a glance & saving some money
you don't visit a place like this (or Bora Bora) because you cannot afford it, however there are a few smart ways you can make your money work for you
1. join the Ambassador club ($200) for guaranteed room upgrades, daily bottled water 1.5L and late check outs.
2. If you are concerned by the price of bottle water (600 XFP – 750ml sparkling at the restaurant), much more in the in-room mini-bar, then I found a filtered cold water dispenser in the gymnasium.
3. Bring your reef shoes as the bottom is full of coral off the OWB
4. if you borrow equipment, such as snorkelling equipment, or a power point adaptor, a sizeable deposit is charged (4000 for snorkelling gear per person, 8000 for power point adaptor) – this will come up on your bill if you don't return it!
5. If you are going to Bora Bora (especially IC Bora Bora Thalasso & Spa) after Moorea, catch the early flight. We caught the 14:40pm flight, which was a mistake because the difference between IC Moorea and IC Bora Bora Thalasso & Spa is huge, the earlier you get to Bora Bora, the better. Likewise, we caught the 15:05pm flight out of Bora Bora back to Papeete, there is a 18:30pm flight or so which maximises your time in Bora Bora
6. If you want to save some money, arrange your own transfers on arrival eg. Taxi from Papeete Airport to Ferry Terminal was 2000 XPF (just go to the taxi rank outside terminal – no shortage of taxis - ask driver the price before you get in taxi), Ferry from Papeete to Moorea 990 XFP per person (buy ticket at the ferry terminal), Ferry Terminal to IC Moorea 1000 XPF per person (Yellow mini-van “Moorea Explorer” - waiting at Ferry Terminal to take pax to their hotels), IC Moorea to Moorea Airport 1500 XPF per person. I just called them up (using the in-bunglow telephone) rather than going through the concierge. Unknown to me, the “Moorea Explorer” company confirms with the hotel your scheduled pickup time, so you won't miss your plane.
7. Arrange your own internal Tahiti flights using the Air Tahiti Nui website. Our internal flights from Moorea to Bora Bora and Bora Bora to Papeete was approx $800 USD for two people. I asked my travel agent in Australia their price, no where close to booking online direct.
Should I visit IC Moorea or IC Bora Bora Thalasso?
(note the IC Bora Bora Moana has the same feel as IC Moorea – a more tropical feel to it (these resorts are older) – whereas the IC Bora Bora Thalasso is much more modern, more luxurious)
This may help you decide:
Based on approx the same cost, if you can't decide between 5 nights in Moorea or 3 nights in Bora Bora? Bora Bora.
do you want to see lots of fish swimming off your OWB? – Moorea has coral and lots of fish, (Bora Bora bottom is sandy).
Do you want to see the typical colour of the water you dream about in an island paradise direct off your bungalow? Bora Bora.
If you want a luxurious modern bungalow that you step in and go “wow” - Bora Bora.
If you only go to Moorea, you will still go “wow”, or maybe “that's nice”, but once you have come to Bora Bora, you will see what I mean.
Do you want to feed dolphins? Moorea
Do you want to be on a bigger island so you can visit more local villages? Moorea
Do you want more land based activities (like ATV driving, golf)? Moorea
Do you want more local island restaurants? Moorea
Do you want to visit a day spa having a massage looking at the floor? Moorea (back, neck shoulders massage 9400 XFP)
Do you want to visit a day spa where you get a massage look through a glass bottom floor looking at fish swimming under you? Bora Bora (back, neck, shoulder massage 9600XFP)
Do you want to feed sting rays? Moorea and Bora Bora
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa is nestled between mountains and a lagoon on a stunning French Polynesian island. Right on the resort grounds is Moorea's widest range of activities, which includes the Moorea Dolphin Center, Bathys Diving Club, tennis, kayaking, canoeing, skiing and Jeep tours. The Arahurahu Marae temple is also worth a visit. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Intercontinental Resort & Spa Moorea Hotel Moorea
- Intercontinental Resort And Spa Moorea
- Intercontinental Hotel Moorea
- InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa French Polynesia