Monday, February 28, 2011

Le Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora


Our view was quite nice
I’m back from my honeymoon and for the next few entries, I’m going to be reviewing the various places where I stayed, ate and did stuff.

Today, let’s start with the last hotel we stayed at, Le Maitai Polynesia, Bora Bora, were we spent five nights.

Le Maitai Polynesia, Bora Bora (the hotel sells itself really well on its site, I give it full points for that)

If I had one thing to change about my honeymoon, it would be to not stay at this hotel. OK, it wasn’t that bad but it also wasn’t the nicest place, especially considering what we were paying for it.

We picked the Maitai because it was a smaller place, locally owned and on the main island, meaning we could easily access restaurants and shops (many of the hotels in Bora Bora are located on small islands that surround the main island so getting around is a bit of a pain).  It’s also located quite close to the best beach on the island and we were told it had decent snorkelling.

And the snorkelling, as well as the overall location was great. Bora Bora truly is a beautiful place but the Maitai, while, it’s not.

Our Room
We stayed in an overwater bungalow and it could have been a great space if it was being properly maintained. It wasn’t huge but it was certainly big enough for two people and it had everything you expected: AC, king-sized bed, fridge, glass fish viewing coffee table.

Unfortunately, it also had thatch walls that were splintered and stained; wood, that while clean, looks sticky and nasty from bad paint and polishing jobs; and a balcony railing that felt like it might give way if you leaned on it.

I know that this is a three-star hotel so I wasn’t expecting marble everything and amazing detail but since we were paying a lot of money to stay there, I was expecting things like curtains that didn’t have holes in them.

At least we didn’t have bugs, like some people on TripAdvisor reported. And the bed was quite comfortable so we were able to sleep well.

Another positive was the location of our bungalow. We were in #4, located in the middle of the three rows of bungalows and at the end of our row. This meant that we had a great, unobstructed view and were also in deeper water, meaning better snorkelling right off our balcony (we actually had a nice bit of coral right by our ladder and we could just sit by it and watch the fishes).

If for some reason I had to stay here again, I would request this unit again.

Maid Service
Again, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. On the plus side, the maid followed my note about how I wanted the bed to be made to protect the sheets from bugs. On the downside, I don’t think our outdoor patio furniture was ever cleaned and bathroom mirror was streaky.

But maybe that happened because one of the bathroom lights was burnt out and so the maid couldn’t see the streaks.

Besides cleaning a room, a good maid should look out for and report issues like a busted light (I reported the broken light on our first day and it never got fixed). And for overwater water bungalows, I would add checking the outdoor deck for dangerous objects like say, rusty nails (thankfully Shawn spotted that before either of us stepped out it).

Other Service
The front desk service was really uneven. We got everything from dippy to dismissive to genuinely helpful. But, after talking to other tourists, we learned that this seems to be the norm for Bora Bora.

Food & Drinks
Because we were in a beach bungalow, we got free breakfast. I really do hope that it was free because this was the saddest breakfast buffet I’d ever seen. It was small, it ran out of stuff and basically all I ate (when they were available) were the butter and the chocolate croissants which, to be fair, were very tasty.

The list price for the buffet was something like $25 CND. Honestly, I don’t think it was even worth half that.
Things were better at lunch. Like everywhere on Bora Bora, the portions were huge and you could easily split a sandwich and fries, putting lunch in the reasonable $20 CND range.

We never ate dinner at our resort. While the Maitai has two restaurants, only the more casual beach restaurant was regularly opened and nothing on its dinner menu caught our eyes.

The more formal restaurant was opened twice during our stay but it was for a buffet and after seeing the breakfast buffet, we weren’t going to chance over $60 each on the Maitai’s dinner buffet.

We did though grab fancy drinks from the lobby bar and not only were they reasonably priced (for Bora Bora) they were also pretty good.

The Beach
In what's clearly a theme, the beach is OK but not great. It's split into two section, both being long and skinny.

This isn't the type of beach you can roll around in the sand. Like most beaches on Bora Bora, bits of coral are mixed in with the sand and so walking barefoot, in and out of the water, can be dangerous. Plus things like stone fish and rays do live right off the beach.

The beach chairs aren't very comfortable but there are lots of them and there's no need to worry about reserving chairs. The beach is also quite quiet and the view from it is great.

Final Thoughts
The other reason why we picked the Maitai was the price; it is one of the cheapest places to get an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora. But that’s a relative cheap; we were still paying hundreds of dollars a night to stay there and what we got for what we paid just doesn’t seem to balance out in my mind.

If I was to go back to Bora Bora, I would cough the few hundred extra and upgrade to somewhere like the Meriden. Yes, that hotel is more expensive but at least there, you feel like you’re getting what you pay for (more on the Meriden later).

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