Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa

Part of the reason why I think I wasn't that impressed with the Maitai, our hotel in Bora Bora, is that we had started off our Polynesian honeymoon with five nights at the wonderful Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa.

Without a doubt, this is my favourite hotel in the whole world. It has a big, beautiful infinity pool, gorgeous gardens, great snorkelling and is conveniently located just outside of Moorea’s main town, so you can easily walk to souvenir shops, a grocery store and restaurants and snack shops.

If I ever had to be “stuck” in a certain period in my life, I would choose to be stuck in those five days I spent at the Pearl.

Here’s why…
Our Room
This is a four-star hotel and in French Polynesia that means that it’s expensive. To keep costs down, we originally booked what’s called a “garden room”, which is a nice room in the hotel part of the resort.

However, because it was low season and the resort wasn’t busy, we got upgraded to a garden bungalow, a unit that included its own backyard and private pool. Also, we lucked out and ended with the best garden bungalow at the resort, the one closest to the beach and the only one with an ocean view.

Besides having a pool, our big, beautiful room had all the amenities you’d expect as well as a very comfortable king-sized bed. The room was in great condition and was packed with Polynesian details, like craved wood and mother-of-pearl dresser handles.

The only way the room could have been nicer was if the pool could have also doubled as a hot tub. It gets breezy down by the ocean!

Maid Service
Great maid service! Everything, even the base boards, were clean. I was particularly impressed by how our glass coffee table was always shining, even though we spilled stuff on it almost every day.

Other Service
While I’m sure the front desk wanted us just to go away since we visited them at least once a day (Husband had many questions and also insisted on having the front desk book our dinner reservations), they were always polite and helpful.

The only service person we weren’t impressed with was the guy who manned the pool booth. He would periodically disappear during his shift, leaving you to help yourself to the towels.

Food & Drinks
Our package included free breakfast and while it was a good breakfast (and vastly better than what we had at the Maitai), it wasn’t $35 good. Yeah, that’s what they were charging to eat there.

And what did you get for that price? Well, there was an egg bar and lots of cheeses, fruits and baked goods, as well as bacon, sausages and some days even crepes, but I’ve had better brunches for $35 (Fairmount Lake Louise, I’m thinking of you).

We also had one lunch and one dinner at the hotel. Both meals were pricey but excellent and the portions were huge. We really should have split one lunch plate since neither of us could finish out meals.

I was particularly wowed by the dinner. My salmon and jasmine rice was actually my second favourite meal of the whole trip and to top it off, husband and I split a delicious lava cake with real vanilla ice cream.

Just like the food, drinks at this place aren’t cheap. The drinks you see in this photo cost over $30 Canadian. Yeah, they were strong but they weren’t that strong. Still, we figured that since this was our honeymoon, we could splurge on a couple of drinks (the rest of the time we drank vodka we’d bought at the LAX duty-free mixed with fruit juice we’d bought at the nearby grocery store).

The Beach
If the Pearl had a downside, it would be the beach. It’s small, not that pretty and there are broken bits of coral, as well as stone fish, mixed in with the sand.

But since the resort also has a gorgeous infinite pool surrounded by plenty of comfy chairs, you don’t really feel like you’re missing a beach.

Also, the overwater bungalow section has a separate platform for snorkelers so you can just jump into the water off that instead of walking in off the beach.

Final Thoughts 
While on Moorea, we did pay a visit to the Hilton and without a doubt, the Pearl is a nicer looking hotel with comparable snorkelling. While we didn’t visit the InterContinental, Moorea’s other main hotel, I still think that if I was to go back to Moorea, I would stay at the Pearl again.

And without a doubt, I’d book one of the pool bungalows. While the overwater bungalow concept is a fun one, I actually think I prefer the bungalow with a private pool idea. It’s really nice to say lines like, “What pool do you want to hang out at? The main one or ours?”.

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