More about Pacific Resort Aitutaki
Pacific Resort Aitutaki Review
My wife and I stayed in a beachfront suite at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki in early November 2006. We were looking for somewhere off the beaten path and Aitutaki fit the bill.
We were picked up at the Aitutaki airport and filled out our registration forms and provided a credit card number for our incidentals while we waited for the luggage came off the plane. Once we arrived at the resort, they took us straight to our room. The suite was very nice and the resort had taken care to assure privacy between the suite units (more so than the beachfront bungalows).
The beach in front of our room was nice, but we needed to walk down by the pool area of the resort to go snorkeling. Based on advice I received before we went, we brought our own snorkel/mask. We didn't need flippers to snorkel at the resort and when we went on the lagoon cruise, we used their flippers. I can't stress enough how important this was. The snorkels/masks at both the resort and cruise looked pretty worn and weren't the highest quality. Having a good snorkel that automatically closes up to prevent water coming in is a huge plus.
Breakfasts at Pacific are included with all rooms and were quite good. We typically had light lunches and ate dinner at the resort or local restaurants. Food at the resort restaurant was generally good and there was a resonable variety of choices. Typical cost for supper entrees was NZ$25-30. We typically didn't drink alcohol from the resort (we brought our own from Rarotonga) as drinks ran NZ$10-13.
We ate one dinner up the road at Te Vaka and were not impressed -- very dry, bland food. We didn't go back.
By far the best meal we had in Aitutaki (and in the top 5 for any place we've eaten anywhere in the world) was Cafe Tupuna. We both had the grilled Tuna which was perfectly prepared along with a mango/cilantro sauce on mashed kumara. Desert was fantastic too. Prices were about the same as PR, but food was an order of magnitude better. One thing about Tupuna to know is that it doesn't look like much when you walk in -- the dining area is essentally a covered patio area of the owner's house with small tables set up on the sand. My wife and I had to laugh when we overheard one of the PR guests complaining to another guest at the PR restaurant that he was disappointed in Tupuna because they had paper napkins :) The Ritz it is not, but if you can overlook the paper napkins I guarantee you will not be disappointed in the food.
The highlight of our trip was the lagoon cruise. We used Kia Orana. The day we went their large boat was in the shop so we took the small boat with 3 other couples. It is impossible to describe how incredible the water and beaches are on the smaller islands to someone who hasn't been there. You just have to see it. Be sure to wear sunscreen. We were pretty careful but still got sunburned on our legs where we didn't pay as much attention.
Aitutaki is definitely the place to go to get away and relax. There weren't a ton of tourist type activies on the island that but that suited us just fine.
On our last day we took the early flight to Rarotonga, rented a car and toured the island before catching the late flight back to LAX. We wished we had more time to explore, but were able to have a nice dinner at Trader Jacks and Desert at Tamarind House.
Here is my summary of highlights, lowlights, and tips that may help others going:
- Lagoon cruise is not to be missed. We used Kia Orana and had a great time. We heard Bishops is very good too.
- The room at the PR was great and we were happy to stay at a resort that had a restaurant on site so we didn't have to go far for food if we didn't feel like venturing out.
- The beach and resort facilities at PR were top notch and the snorkeling in front of the pool area was pretty good too.
- We read that a dengue fever outbreak was in progress from the cook island newspapers on the internet. I called Costco travel (whom I booked the trip though) before we left and they didn't have any info at the time, but promised to look into it. A day later they called me back and said that while there were a "few" cases on the islands, the local gov't had it under control and I shouldn't worry. I emailed PR to ask them about it and got no response. Unsure of what to do, we went to Wal-mart and stocked up on insect repellent. Good thing we did. Contrary to what Costco said, Dengue fever is a problem in the Cook Islands right now. As we were clearing customs one of the officers handed us a folded up piece of paper saying that "there was some useful information we might want to read". Turned out that it was a warning about a dengue fever outbreak, a list of symptoms and advice to contact the doctor if we showed any of them. About our 3rd day at the PR, we got a simlar letter on our desk in the room along with a bottle of insect repellent. Ummm...this would have been good to know before we went. The mosquitos didn't seem too bad at PR because they sprayed about every other day (though we didn't venture out without repellent and still got bit). I heard from someone on our lagoon cruise that there were "clouds" of moquitos at Samade on the Beach.
- As others have written, the level of service at PR is not at the same level as the accomodations themselves. For example, if you want to eat dinner at the resort you have to make a reservation every day. If you don't call them, they will call you to see whether or not you want to eat there. One time they called saying they saw the "do not disturb" sign on the door and decided that they would call anyway to see if we would be joining them for dinner. What does a "do not disburb" sign mean??? This may sound nitpicky, but not when I'm spending US$700/night -- it's not like we ever went to the restaurant and didn't see half the tables empty.
Tips we learned
- We brought along about half a carryon bag worth of snacks (ie candy, granola bars, pringles, etc). This stuff is harder to come by on the island and very expensive. We gave our leftover items to they maids on the last night when they came to turndown the beds and they were very appreciative.
- Bring your own insect repellent and use it for reasons listed above.
- Bring our own snorkel/mask, but save luggage space and use the flippers from the resort or cruise company. Sunscreen is a must for the lagoon cruise.
- There is a duty free store in Rarotonga right before you clear customs where you can buy alcohol at prices comparable to the US. We like Captain Morgan and we didn't see it anywhere in the stores in Aitutaki and were glad to have stocked up before we arrived.
- Diet Coke can be hard to come by and/or expensive. Cheapest place we found was a gas stataion that was in between the Blue Nun and the Maina market. Cans were only NZ$1.50 so we stocked up.
- After getting Salmonella in Mexico last year, I don't leave the US without Cipro. Talk to your Dr before you go and get a Rx just in case.
Conde Naste's choice ...
Conde Nast picked this as one of the hottest resorts (in not THE hottest) in the world in 2008. So expectations were high to say the least.
But where was everybody? I damn nearly had the resort to myself, such is the beauty of the Cook Islands experience (and the tragedy of poor airline connections)
The villas stretch out along the beach from the main building built around a rock promontary and pool. Perfect for lovers, honeymooners ... well, any couple really.
Help yourself to a bike and ride into town or around the island. The double bed facing straight out onto the sand with thousands of miles of the South Pacific Ocean in front of you was awesome. Adjacent the villa, the large hammock got an absolute workout. Beautiful pareu (sarongs) and a CD were provided which immediately put you in the island mood.
Happy hour at the pool bar was an unforgettable sight: hundreds of tea light candles flickering away, and a darn good mojito.
Island Night is highly recommended. What a seafood feast!!! Dancers and drummers easily outnumbered the audience.
Best hotel in Aitutaki
If you go to the Cook Islands, do not waste your time on Rarotonga but go to Aitutaki straight away. What an amazing island! The Pacific Resort Aitutaki certainly is THE place to be at if you are looking for a luxurious breakaway.
The hotel is rather new (4 years old), and you can feel it positively. The rooms are all in their own villas, with direct beach access through a private patio. Our room was nicely decorated with flowers on a daily basis, it was clean and spotless. The beach is perfect, with a sufficient amount of sun chairs available. Also, we liked the pool area, with snack and drinks services all day long. We also enjoyed some spa treatments, which were extremely nice in a nice treatment room.
Downsides: The hotel is lacking a WLAN access. Service was efficient, but in no way warm-hearted (more: lackluster). Some staff members were incompetent with even the most simple tasks (e.g., explain guest how to make local phone call, make some corrections on final bill).
Overall, we had a great stay. We also visited the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort which we considered a little outdated in comparison with the Pacific Resort Aitutaki (although some people may prefer the lagoon location). In retrospect, we regret we spent some nights at the Crown Beach Resort in Rarotonga, because that pales in comparison.
If you plan on going to the Cooks for a honeymoon. Go to the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, stay there, don't mess around with Raro. I found myself the last day trying to rearrange my flight details to stay there longer. The staff are tremendously kind and will meet and exceed your expectations. The rooms are not just photographed well on the website like some resorts, they are the real deal, beautiful and comfortable.
Driving a scooter around the island is a great experience as well. You'd be hard pressed to find a single person on the island that wont go out of their way to say hello and wish you a nice day. The breakfast menu is amazing while the dinner is the best food we experienced on either Aitutaki or Raro. Tropical fruits and VB for lunch, can't beat it.
Snorkeling right out in front of the resort was tremendous as well. It's like a fish tank just a little cleaner than the average one. I also recommend going on a lagoon cruise but I recommend booking it once you arrive with the Black Pearl (fishing boat) or Bishops small boat if you must to avoid crowds. The snorkeling is even better in the southern motu's.
Great Hotel in an Amazing Setting
My wife and I booked our stay at this hotel through a British travel agent and then contacted the hotel directly to arrange our wedding. Despite the vast distance and 12-hour time difference, the hotel’s manager stayed in touch via phone and email until we’d finalised the details.
On arrival, we were greeted at the airport by a hotel representative and given a flower necklace each. We were escorted the short distance to the hotel where we greeted in person by the hotel manager and fresh coconut juice.
We were upgraded to a beach front suite and shown to our room. The room itself was housed in a self-contained, thatched unit. It was a good size and smartly furnished in dark wood. One wall was almost entirely a sliding window-door which opened up onto a large, sunny balcony. From there, private steps led down onto the beach, past an outdoor shower. The large bed was very comfortable and there was a TV (no local channels), DVD player and stereo system. The room was air-conditioned.
The large, en-suite bathroom was clean and well maintained, had two basins and a very large, glass shower cubicle. There was also a doorway to an outdoor shower enclosure, which we didn’t use because of the gecko that had taken up residence!
The common areas of the hotel were all clean and well maintained. The extensive gardens were well tended to. The restaurant, where breakfast and dinner were served was airy and, being raised up above the pool area, had amazing views of the lagoon and the reef. The pool, whilst relatively small, was very clean and in good repair and also afforded good views of the lagoon. The poolside bar was comfortable and looked out over the beach
On the whole, the food varied from good to very good (but rarely excellent) – it was well prepared and cooked but there was not much in the way of variety. Breakfasts were let down slightly by a lack of fresh juices. All this was understandable, given the island's location.
The staff were always friendly and happy to help, although not entirely consistent in terms of their efficiency (not a big problem, though).
Our wedding itself, which took place on the beach, immediately in front of our suite, was supremely well organised. The hotel gardeners constructed and erected a floral archway from scratch. We had a string band, photographer and videographer, all sourced through the hotel. They then laid on dinner and champagne on the same spot, after the ceremony.
The reception staff were always willing and able to help with requests for scooter hire, lagoon & island excursions and arranging transport to and from other restaurants on the island
Above all, the Pacific Resort, Aitutaki needs context to be really appreciated.
There are 5-star, luxury hotels all over the world but to compare them like for like would be foolish. A 5-star, luxury hotel in Hong Kong, for example, where you can put your hands on almost anything you wish for within minutes of asking, has the ability to deliver much more, with much less effort, than a similarly-styled establishment which sits on a tiny coral atoll, two-and-a-half thousand miles from the nearest hub of civilisation.
This is the problem facing the Pacific Resort, Aitutaki. But it is also the hotel’s biggest unique selling point. Apart from basic vegetables, chickens and goats (which are all cultivated locally) and certain types of fish, Aitutaki’s isolation means it depends on monthly visits from a relatively small container ship for all its other needs. Thus, the islanders are inevitably inclined to a make-do attitude, wherever they can.
On the other hand, Aitutaki’s isolation means it’s beautiful coral motu, white-sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise lagoon and surrounding reefs are largely untouched by human hand. The sheer magnificence of its natural beauty is, arguably, without parallel.
And the Pacific Resort, Aitutaki makes full use of it’s natural setting. Each one of it’s rooms sits on a the powder-white sand of the beach. The covers in the restaurant offer uninterrupted views of the lagoon, the reef and the migratory humpback whales beyond. The infinity pool merges seamlessly with the azure of the sea and the cocktail bar is gently wafted by the offshore breeze.
This all aids the hotel’s guests in tuning-in to the island way of life. Then, and only then, can you really appreciate what the Pacific Resort has to offer.
Yes, the local staff are so laid back that you might mistake their relaxed way for disinterest. Yes, the variety of food in the restaurant is limited to what is immediately available on the island – but at least it is fresh. Yes, they don’t always have all the ingredients available for all the cocktails. Yes, the otherwise perfectly workable courtesy car (in the shape of an automatic, well-equipped Ford Galaxy) needs a few cosmetic parts replacing. And yes, some of the outdoor furnishings are looking a bit faded by the sea breeze and constant sunshine.
But, to deny that the Pacific Resort, Aitutaki has not put in a great deal of effort in doing what they can with the limited resources the island has to offer would just be downright wrong. The manger and her staff have created as near as damn-it a luxury resort as is humanly possible on the beautiful, lost island of Aitutaki. Those who are disappointed with what it has to offer in an environment as uniquely magnificient as the land and people Aitutaki are, in my opinion, being short-sighted.
Paradise Island with fantastic service
We stayed here for four nights in June 2005 and had our wedding on the beach outside our bungalow. The resort is beautiful and the rooms are spacious with great bathrooms. The staff could not be more helpful and the food was excellent. Upon arrival they picked us up from the airport and presented us with a flower garland and fresh coconut milk. Upon depature all guests were given shell necklaces. I would thoroughly recommend this resort and island, it was a magical 4 days.
Beautiful bungalows - TERRIBLE SERVICE
We came to Aitutaki for 2 weeks right after christmas for our honeymoon. We stayed at Pacific Resort for the first 4 nights of our trip. Our bungalow was beautiful and the pool area was lovely.
Our experiences with the staff and their helpfulness were really terrible. They did everything and anything to keep us on the resort to spend money there. They would not rent us a scooter (they said that every scooter on the entire was rented because it was so busy - we found out later that was completely UNTRUE), and they NEVER recommended any of the other great restaurants for dinner because they wanted us to eat in their expensive restaurant every night (we ate there a few times and the food is good, but pretty expensive compared to other great restaurants on the island).
What made us most upset is that on New Year's Eve, they convinced us that the big island party was on their resort and we should hurry to make a booking there for dinner. Come to find out, the place was empty (except for those staying there that didn't know better) because there was a great party on the beach at another restaurant. We found this out 2 days later and were so upset. We are glad we didn't choose to stay there for our entire trip and that most of our time was spent at another resort.
Good. NOT great.
This place certainly has a lot going for it, but it's not perfect by any means. Here are the positives: Bunglows are private and fairly luxurious, especially the bathrooms. Beachfront location is nice. Food is good, and occassionally excellent at the restaurant. Bloody Marys are perfect. Pool is nice. Breakfast is amazing. Staff is professional enough. Amenities are solid. If you have kids and they need pizza at random times of day, this is the place to be.
The thing is, this is the most expensive place on Aitu, and expensive by any standards.
Here are the negatives: The staff are fine... kind of well trained, but it seems that they've had the Cook Island trained out of them. They're no where near as warm as the rest of the islanders we met. They don't really seem happy, in fact. They are really pushy with getting you to eat in house. The beach in front of our bungalow (South of the pool) was never cleaned during the 5 days we were there. There was trash and broken glass to avoid the whole time. We walked past the pool to the bungalows north of the pool to hang out, and had to use other people's loungers. There weren't enough loungers for the bungalows, and fewer with cushions, so it was a bit awkward having to do this. The bungalows are lacking a bit. You can't get a through-draft because 2 of the 4 walls are completely closed. The TV (for rainy days) is too small to watch enjoyably from bed (and that's w/ 20/20 vision). Our patio furniture was very run down. The shower was small and not sealed so the entire floor was soaked after every shower. The bungalow was very dark and gloomy... made you want to leave, which is usually a good thing, unless you just want to stay in. For the most part, they were responsive when we had a request, but requesting a tube of toothpaste took 4 calls.
We explained clearly our concerns to them on their comment card, but we suspect it fell on deaf ears. We didn't get the sense that they minded too much what we thought. And, to date, we haven't heard back from them.
In the end, if you go expecting a very nice, but not necessarily perfect place, and are comfortable spending this kind of money for this level of place, then you'll be very happy. This is, in the end, the 2nd best place to stay on Aitutaki, just as it's rated by TripAdvisor members.
The highest rated place (Etu Moana, where we also stayed) is the best place, and this place is the second best. Second is pretty good... nothing to shake a stick at.
Perfect Honeymoon Suite
My first impression of Aitutaki wasn't good, they lost our reservation for this resort (we booked in combination with the Pacific in Rarotonga). However, upon arrival I quickly changed my mind, this was the perfect honeymoon suite. Was a standalone bungalo with amazing furnishings- 4 poster bed, mahogany wood flooring, private deck with chairs, secluded beach, glass shower, and champagne upon arrival. They also do a turndown service for you. Great service at the resort. If you go to Aitutaki, do the lagoon cruise. We did this on our last day and wished I would have done it sooner, I would have done more than one. Snorkeling was great and they take you to many different secluded islands. awesome! Really, we turned the Pacific into an "all inclusive" experience, were there for 4 days and on our first day rented scooters and toured the island, quickly discovering that the Pacific was the best thing on the island, so we didn't leave again. Good restaurants, good value and a little warmer than Raro. September is iffy and wasn't as warm as I would have liked, but I would stay here again in a heartbeat. Amazing infinity edge pool, nice outdoor bar, and very luxurious. My only drawback was that the sand in the Cooks isn't soft, it's quite harsh b/c it's formed out of the coral. Otherwise great beach.
in final approach to Aitutaki Airport
view from our bungalow no 6 at the Etu Moana
sunset at the Aitutaki Pacific Resort
Honeymoon Island (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)
Places to stay in Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Does anyone know of good cheap accomadation on the island
RE: Places to stay in Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Hi there, you lucky guy - The Cooks are my absolute favourite place.. :o)
At Aitutaki I stayed at Rino's, which was quite ok but nothing special, and more of a mid-range place (111 NZD for an apartment) - if you're interested you'll find more info on my Cook Islands page. If you don't get any answers here I recommend you have a look at www.ck - you'll find info on basically anything you'll need to know about the Cooks, including accomodation on Aitutaki.. :o)
RE: RE: Places to stay in Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Yes, I do agree...the Cooks are fabulous! I stayed at Tom's Beach Cottage, which is ok if you don't expect too much from your accomodation. I paid 32NZ$/ per night for a single. The beach there is a bit shallow for swimming, but shops are nearby.
RE: Places to stay in Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Paradise Cove. They have a bunch of quaint, thatch-roof huts on a wonderful snorkeling beach for around US$40/night. And the employees are very helpful and motherly. Next door is Puffy's Diner, which has some of the best restaurant prices I've seen in the Cooks.