30th May 2014 – 1st June 2014
Up close and personal with the Intercontinental Moorea Island Resort in the French Polynesia. The review was conducted as subjective as possible during our trip to the resort for the length of the above stay.
Location; Transport to and from Moorea Airport (MOZ)
The Intercontinental Moorea Island Resort is situated around 30-45 minutes drive from the airport of Moorea. Being this distance the location has its pros and cons.
Located in the opposite direction to the Sofitel Resort, please expect a good 40 minutes of driving on shared or private transfer bus/minivan before reaching your destination. The Intercontinental Resort is located further than the Hilton Hotel resort as your transportation will pass right by it. To get to the destination you will pass 2 bays and 2 main (but small) villages of Moorea, the upside to the lengthy time of the car/bus-ride is that you will get to already see and explore close to half the Moorea Island itself.
If you are lucky enough like us to get on of those lively drivers you will get the full tour of exactly what you are driving pass as you pass the landmarks.
Organised by the Intercontinental Hotel Resort concierge, the transfer costs a cool 3100 CPF each way for shared transfers. The private transfer will cost around 1000 – 1500 CPF more though if you have more than 3 people this may be the cheaper option to go with. Please note that though their website/brochure may says shared transfers require minimum of 2 people, the minimum is in fact 4, so do not be disappointed if their answer is “Only Private Transfer is available”.
Arrival and Check-In
Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by friendly staff at the front counter area. We left our bags at the front as they assured that the bags would be safe and went ahead to check-in.
The reception / concierge / front-desk area was very tidy and clean, decorated nicely to suit the environment and the “holiday resort on the island”. There were ample staff when we arrived and we did not have to wait long to get attended to for our check-in.
To check-in you will require the following information handy:
- Passport for each person staying
- Fill out a form which asks for a few personal details as well as your autograph down the bottom
- Your credit/debit card; for security and apparently so that the resort can deduct directly during your stay without asking for your card every time
We were seated overlooking the pool, restaurant and the beach whilst completing our check-in procedure. We were also served a pineapple juice each which was a nice touch.
The staff was tentative, though expect around a good 10 – 15 minutes to get all the details required and room allocation with keys.
After check-in procedures were complete we were escorted to our room on a golf-cart with our luggage; presumably due to how far away our room was but nevertheless the experience was enjoyable.
Room – Overwater Bungalow
We were fortunate enough to have booked into the Overwater Bungalow. Our bungalow was located around a 10 minute (pleasant walking speed) from the reception and restaurant. The bungalow overall was everything that you would expect; quiet, semi-secluded, very roomy and well, overwater (kinda).
The bungalow was actually only half overwater, so if your expectation was to be completely overwater then you would be disappointed. Although this is the case, it was in no way an obstacle if you wanted to slip into the water for a swim or a snorkel.
The bungalow had all the amenities we needed, the below list is by no means an exhaustive list but just to give an indication of whats inside:
- Mini-bar (extra costs apply, if you do not plan to consume then DO NOT open as there is a security seal)
- Bath Robes for 2
- Ample shower towels (4x initially and 2x after they cleaned the room, unsure of the the reason for inconsistency)
- X number of small towels around in both the shower area and toilet sink
- Full set of shower gear; shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturiser and probably whatever else you would need such as shower caps
- 2x purple outside beach towels
- Jug with 4 sets of cups/spoons/coffee plates and 2-3 sets of tea/coffee/sugar
- Internet LAN cable (which we did not use, we used WI-FI)
- Safe Box (which we did not utilise either)
- 2x indoor slippers
- Ample amount of cloth hangers in the wardrobe
- LCD TV; a good size (around 32” in size) which could swing around to face the sofa or the bed, very nice touch
- Hair Dryer
There were actually quite a few overwater bungalows around and there were quite a few that was completely overwater. However due to its location in the lagoon it may not actually have been the best place to snorkel.
As the trip was a special occasion, we ordered the “Flowers on Bed” amenity to be delivered upon arrival. This worked out very well and it was absolutely beautiful. The only downside being that the bed was full of ants and had to be cleaned again once we finished with the flowers and got them removed.
For those of you interested in the list of amenities available, please find it here.
Restaurants and Food
The food and restaurant were good enough that for the duration of our stay (2 nights) we did not have to leave the resort. A word of warning again that things are not cheap in the French Polynesia, so do not come here expecting any type of affordable food/beverage prices (comparatively to where we live, New Zealand).
There are 2 main restaurants in the resort, namely the Fara Hana (International Restaurant) and Fare Nui (Gourmet Restaurant). Breakfast takes places in Fare Nui which may or may not be included in your accommodation package (in our case it was not). We took up the full american breakfast buffet the first morning and found it comprehensive but lacks anything spectacular. The breakfast was 3800 CPF per person and we felt that we could probably do la carte style an hour or 2 later for a better deal.
Aside from the 2 restaurants mentioned above, there is also the poolside snack bar. Despite its name they are actually capable of serving up descent food at any time of the day even when the restaurants are not open, though we do not believe it is open 24 hours. What is really nice about the poolside snack bar is the fact that it is connected to the swimming pool which enables you to have a nice drink of anything you like from the snack bar without getting out of the water.
We actually had dinner 2 nights in a row at [restaurant 2] and to our surprise they actually catered better than our expectations. They were more than happy to cater for our customised menu request even though what we were ordering were not on the menu exactly. The food was of descent quality, and had a slight fusion flavour to it.
The Intercontinental Moorea Resort was actually quite rich in its facilities and things to do. It even has a couple of additional activities that are unique to the resort; Dolphin and Turtle Interactions. Though we did not have time to enjoy the Interaction with Dolphins (charged extra) we did go past the dolphins and it was very nice to be able to see them. To get up and close to the turtles were free of charge and this was a hugely interesting experience.
Other facilities include but are not limited to:
- Free snorkel gear hire; a deposit of 8000CPF is put against your room but upon the return of the gear this is reversed. The gear hire is near the poolside snack bar (just a bit further out towards the sea/beach)
- The very nice pools near the restaurant; we regret to not have gone there, however we had too much fun snorkelling in the lagoon to make it to the pool
- Gym facility; a bit disappointing as this was closed for renovation so we were not able to go
- Massage Services; this was at an extra cost and was close to the Gym (across from it)
- A couple of retail shops in the reception area; we bought some very nice post cards here and sent them on their way at the reception. Again don’t expect the stamp or the post cards to be cheap
The Lagoon and Beach
This was the best part of our trip, the overwater bungalow mentioned and the lagoon accessible from our room. We are probably a bit biased as we love our clear water and snorkelling but look at the crystal clear water; how can you not?
During our short time there, we found that the best time to snorkel would often be in the morning; the water was crystal clear whilst tranquil, its warm enough and there just isn’t many people in the morning. By noon the water often starts to get rougher and the idea of snorkelling loses its appeal compared to in the morning.
There wasn’t actually as much beach as we thought there would be but we heard that there wasn’t much beach in the French Polynesia and most of it is the beautiful tortoise lagoon. There was enough for us to enjoy though as our daily walk to and from the restaurant is on a thin (but beautiful) strip of beach extending all of the way. It is simply priceless the way you can take casual strolls on the beach whilst watching the fish swim in the crystal clear water.
During the time we were there, we really could not complain. The temperature ranges from 26 Degrees Celsius to a warm but comfortable 33 Degrees Celsius.
The nights were comfortable enough with a pinch of chill, whilst during the day the temperature was built to perfection for snorkelling and sunbathing. It would be wise to have a light jacket if walking about at night though, as the sea breeze could have quite a cooling effect.
During our 3-day trip, there was a couple of occasions where very dark clouds were hovering over our heads and there were spits of rain. We did not encounter anything substantial however and the weather was overall excellent; prior to our trip we did a bit of research and the period of May/June is not the raining season.
Overall Summary and Rating
Overall, we could not fault our trip much. Though depending on budget this short but sweet trip could be slightly pricey, it is worth every penny.
There are various options and though we reviewed the Overwater Bungalow, there are plenty of cheaper and more economical options such as the Beach Bungalow that are probably just as nice. Because of our love for the lagoon Overwater Accommodation was an important aspect of our trip and we loved it.
The facilities were mostly top notch, but again the deal being not all inclusive watch out for your credit card bill on conclusion of your stay. There were a few small and frustrating issues with the facilities such as the Gym which was unavailable due to renovation which kept our stay from perfection, but these were minor issues when overviewing our experience as a whole.