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“a little disappointing”

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Aretai Beach Villas
Reviewed September 19, 2013

We stayed in the absolute beach front villa. It is very well furnished and comfortable. Unfortunately it is ageing and there is a definate need for some maintenance and TLC. That said, we still enjoyed our time there. Mama was great. The view is blocked by the coconut trees but the up side of that is the shade. The villas face west and the afternoons would have very hot without them. It's also great to just hop off the balcony and lie on the chairs on the beach under the palms. Most other places we saw as we walked up the beach had no trees in front of them and must have been really hot in the afternoons. The worst were the cockerels that hang around that villa, crowing and screeching right next to you from 3am until dusk. they should be confined to the back of the property.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Shirley S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SueJtravels, Guest Relations Manager at Aretai Beach Villas, responded to this reviewResponded September 29, 2013

Im sorry that you were a little disappointed by your holiday as we really want everyone to have a great Aitutaki experience. Our villas are now 10 years old and you are right some things need a little titivate but we have kept the price the same for the last 10 years which we hope compensates a little for this. We have plans to upgrade the bathrooms and are waiting for tradesmen and a quiet time for bookings.
Unfortunately the cockerels are everywhere in the Cooks and just run wild. We do try and trap them to keep them away from Aretai but they seem to have a mind of their own.

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28 - 34 of 57 reviews

Reviewed July 19, 2013

Our favourite stay of four options in the cooks, Mama's personality and hospitality made it feel like you were staying with family.

Don't change a thing guys.....except maybe bookings online.....we did not want to leave!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Simoncaccess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SueJtravels, Family at Aretai Beach Villas, responded to this reviewResponded July 23, 2013

Thanks for the nice review and glad you loved Aitutaki. Mama is wonderful! By the way we do bookings online on the website.

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Reviewed July 18, 2013

My wife and I just returned from 9 nights at Aretai and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We are frequent travelers who do extensive homework before deciding on a place to stay and our experiences have confirmed the positive T-advisor reviews for Aretai. Huge deck, rooms, closets and wonderful location. If a quiet, large place to stay without the hassles of crowds is your style then you won't find a better value than Aretai.. period. One look at the other value accomodations on the island and you'll see what I mean.
We talked to a handful of couples and groups that came and went during our stay and everyone said that they'd have planned more time at Aretai if they'd known how peaceful it is.

Here are some tips not only for Aretai but for Aitutaki:
- just forget everything. sit on the deck of the villa and read while listening to the palms rustle in the wind. There are leftover books in the closet in unit 2.
- if you want a glass of wine to go with that, the Heineken store has easily the best prices on wine and beer...at least it did last week.
- down the beach 100yrds to the swimming hole at sunset.
- mosquito repellent for when the wind dies down. This goes for the whole island but what's great is that they go away with the breeze.
- Rino rentals for scooters. Ask Mama to call them and have them drop one off or go next door to Puffy's and ask him to call. This goes for any booking on the island.
- the gas station in the AM for bread and lettuce or Heineken store for bread all day. the big store by the wharf at 6am for produce and if you're lucky.. donuts(!).
- we brought meat and sausages from Prime Meats on Raro. Glad we did because finding raw fish-chickn-beef on Aitu is a hassle. Fired up the Aretai BBQ and grilled out on multiple nights. This is a huge bonus. If the grill is crusty.. use the brush!
- we brought pasta and a can of sauce from Raro which was a good call too. Bringing aged dutch cheese with us from the mainland was brilliant.
- Pacific Resorts for postcards and stamps. their beach is also open to anyone. best food presentation on the island but Tavana (?) is a close second. Atmosphere and price make PR second to T in my opinion.
- there is great snorkeling and kayaking right out front of the villas in the lagoon but it's best to wait until high tide to let the water fill in.
- TeKing lagoon tours (snorkeling) is the small group way to go. Bishop for big tours.
- Mona's water taxi (PaPa) to get dropped off at a remote motu for 3-4 hours. you won't regret this one. bring water sandals for the coral and snorkel gear. his sign is on the road by the Heini store.
- The cultural tour is fantastic. A great meal and island experience by a local anthropologist at a working site. This was a great surprise.
- Blackjack for deep sea fishing. He'll prob let you keep a fish or two unlike the other outfits.
- Puffy's for island night on Wednesdays. Call ahead to make sure that it's on.
- Ootu beach to chill out and have a super tasty sandwich from Samade at the same time. This is really the best beer on the island.
- Happy hour cocktails at the Aitutaki Resort restaurant: 5:30-6:30pm. Amazing location and would be a great place to stay here if money were no object.

Hope this info is helpful. It's true that Aretai isn't for everyone. Folks craving a high maintenance visit should stick to resorts where they can be catered to. If that isn't enough then they should probably just stay on another island altogether.

Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
10  Thank FBCoconut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SueJtravels, Family at Aretai Beach Villas, responded to this reviewResponded July 23, 2013

Thanks for the nice review. Glad you loved Aitutaki and Mama and the tips for other guests are fantastic!

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Reviewed July 2, 2013

WE PAID TOO MUCH FOR WHAT WE GOT! My family and I stayed here at Aretai for 5 nights. First of all, they clean the rooms every 3 days! I didn't come on vacation to make beds, clean bathrooms and sweep floors. (A place down the rode that charges $94.00 per night cleans daily) I was so upset my husband decides to open up a bottle of wine for me but their wine opener was broken. So he sent our kids to the main house to get a another one. They come back with a can opener. They told my boys to use that. REALLY?? Let's continue.... The towels were cheap and old. I would dry myself with it and I was still wet. The bed sheets and bedspread were ancient. Zero bathroom amenities. For $300 a night plus $50 per per additional person . there was 5 of us.($450) (that's $2250 I paid) they should at least clean the rooms daily, buy new quality towels, sheets, bedspread and at the very least have little shampoo/conditioner bottles in the bathroom. There was no AC. I need AC. At the very least they should install a multi-split air conditioner in the living room. For $450.00 a night I believe they can afford it. There are 4 cats roaming the property that belong to the manager, her name is Mama. Kids love playing with them. The problem is that when I picked up the kitten and saw his belly, 8 fleas scattered! They offer no activities on the premises. Down the rode at another property they have bonfires at night and have a potluck night where all vacationers make a dish from their country. The managers of the property set up two tables on the beach and everyone eats together while they get to know each other. At least it's an option. They have 1 portable BBQ that was filthy! For $450 a night they should at least clean it. The beach in front of the property isn't the best by far. We went in the first day we arrived and never again. The best is near the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort. That beach/water is amazing. Great for families. I did see some rental beach villas that are privately owned on that side. I plan on looking into those the next time I go to Aitutaki. Even though Aretai was bad, Aitutaki is beautiful. We tried to spend every waking moment far away from Aretai. Unfortunately it rained the first two days we arrived. In regards to the fruit. We did receive fruit one day and that came from the lady that runs the transportation vehicle, not from Aretai. The owners of this property live in New Zealand and our making a lot of money from us vacationers. They should either lower their prices or put some money into the property and upgrade it. In the immediate future they should hire an additional housekeeper and clean daily. If I would have paid around $150.00usd per night I would not complain. I would have gotten what I paid for. But to paid $450.00 per night doesn't sit well with me. We work hard for our money. This was our family vacation and I felt we got ripped off. You are probably saying to yourself why did you book it in the first place. Well, we didn't. After staying at the Pacific Resorts in Rarotonga last year and loving it, we again contacted the Pacific Resorts Rep in the USA to book the Aitutaki PR for us. They came back and said they do not allow 5 people in a room. Max 4. However, there are villas called Aretai that they send their guests to if Pacific Resort is full and they will take 5 people. Since this was about 1 1/2 weeks before, we said yes blindly. Why would I think that Pacific Resorts being a 4/5 star property would recommend a 1 to 2 star property. We complained to them as well. All in all, unless you are ready for that, stay somewhere else.

Room Tip: The beach/water is not the best. It's not even pretty in color.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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8  Thank chubay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SueJtravels, Family at Aretai Beach Villas, responded to this reviewResponded July 7, 2013

I am sorry to read that you didn't enjoy your time at Aretai Beach Villas. Perhaps your booking agent didn't give you the correct information when you booked.
We have never worked with Pacific Resort for bookings. Next door at Are Matatui, which is more luxurious and more expensive than Aretai, used to take families from Pacific Resort but no longer offer that service either. It is difficult to find accommodation for families in Aitutaki and we prefer to only take 4 people per villa, but realise this disadvantages families with 3 children, hence we will accept bookings for 5.
Our villas are advertised as self catering and are geared for travelers who generally prefer not to be disturbed daily. We also advertise that the villas are serviced every three days however fresh towels are available on request. This would be consistent with properties of this type.
Your points about bottle opener, linen etc are noted and we are in the process of upgrading some of our furnishings and some bathroom fittings.
The normal owner/manager was away for three weeks having some medical treatment and we are aware that perhaps things didn't run as smoothly while she was off the island.
So again we are sorry that your experience spoilt your holiday in the Aitutaki.

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Reviewed July 1, 2013

My husband and I spent 4 nights on this paradise island. The villa was spacious with a wonderful deck outside that we made full use of. A good swimming channel just 30 metres to the left along the beach. Full kitchen with stove, fridge etc-great for families. We ate out every night and used the recommendations given in the visitors book-all really good. Mama was amazing and we were provided with fresh fruit and even freshly baked scones!
We will definitely be back with friends to stay at Aretai Beach Villas.

Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank VickiAb1940
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013

I spent a week here with a group of friends in January. We were made to feel welcome from the moment we arrived at Aretai as we were picked up from the airport by Mama Nicholas. There are 5 villas, with 2 being more luxurious in their standard, and the other 3 simple but with plenty of space and all the facilities you would expect in a beach side villa. Admitedly, there are better places for swiming and snorkelling on the island, but really this is just nit picking on what is itself a beautiful spot.
When you come to Aretai, expect the best standard of hospitality from Mama Nicholas who will adopt you like you were a grandchild of her own for the duration of your stay. Mama was able to organise everything we wanted to do on the island, including the delivery of transport, day trips on the lagoon and a deep sea fishing trip outside the reef. Mama's kind nature and grace alone made staying at this place a delight.
The island itself is not big, so Aretai is within a few minutes scooter ride of any place you might wish to visit. There is a fully equipped kitchen in every villa which we used almost every day, but I would recommend you travel around and visit some of the local cafe's and restaurants dotted around the island and in the resorts. After a long day travelling around the island and swimming in the lagoon, there is no better way to spend an evening than lounging on one of the large villa balconies, or walking the 10 metres to the beach to wade in the warm water and watch the sun go down.
This isand is a beautiful place, and unlike any other place I had been to before. Its warmth and character are captured perfectly by Aretai and Mama Nicholas. Overwall, this was a wonderful stay.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank H0wesy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 18, 2013

I never thought I would see such a perfect slice of paradise. The welcome was warm and the bungalow was spacious, simple and comfortable with everything we needed. We loved the big verandah right on the beach and snoozed the afternoon away on the chaise lounges under the palms. (Just watch out you are not under the coconuts!) The snorkling was good, but better when we walked along the beach towards the village. It was lovely kayaking in the evenings. We didn't rent a car or moto, but walked along the beach (about 45 minutes) to the village for shopping. Coming back via the road, we were offered a lift. The people on Aitutaki are very friendly and not spoilt by mass tourism. There is a small take-away restaurant next door (Puffy's) who also do a nice Island Night with a dancing and music show once a week. All in all, a dream vacation.

Room Tip: If you are going to do self-catering, take along a knapsack of your favourite stuff. You find all th...
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank TOOTLE46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aretai Beach Villas

Address: Village, Amuri, PH31645, Cook Islands
Location: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Aitutaki
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Aitutaki
Price Range: $250 - $400 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Aretai Beach Villas 2*
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Your private piece of paradise, Aretai Beach Villas provides top quality accommodation on a magnificent stretch of white, sandy, beach, on the sunset side of the island. Guests have easy access to a wonderful safe lagoon and local restaurants. Three, attractive, generously sized, stand alone two bedroom units, are self catering. Each unit has a separate modern kitchen with full cooking facilities, and is well appointed with all you need. Lounge area with quality cane furniture. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Aretai Beach Villas Hotel Aitutaki

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