All the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa, a 27-acre property long a favorite of both families and honeymooners, needed was a cosmetic nip and tuck to regain its star quality.
A nine-month refurbishment in 2010 has done just that, giving one of Moorea's older properties a refreshed look to match its welcoming service and a new room category: 17 spacious Garden Pool Bungalows.
The main pool area and surrounding dining facilities were also renovated in a striking contemporary style - so much so that on my recent visit I thought the heart of the property looked like an entirely new resort.
Located on Moorea's north coast, past both Cook's and Opunohu Bays and about a 30 minute drive from the ferry dock and airport, the resort also features WiFi connectivity in the accommodations and public spaces.
The renovation updated each of the 144 rooms and bungalows, all of which feature air-conditioning and bathtubs, while bungalows also have separate showers. The interiors of the 48 Lanai Rooms (measuring 328 square feet) have bamboo floors, woven walls and king-sized beds (which can be separated into two twins). These are a great value option for families. There is also one larger Lanai Suite.
Also an option for families or couples craving space: The 17 new Garden Pool Bungalows, which are set back from the lagoon, with each featuring a large terrace with a private plunge pool and outdoor lounging and dining areas (called a Fare Pote). At 721 square feet, they feature a king-sized bed plus a living room with sleeper sofa that can accommodate two additional guests.
The resort's 28 Beach Bungalows, which are scattered amid coconut trees on the beach at the edge of the lagoon (11 of them considered Premium because of their more private location), also benefited from the spruce up with the extension of their terraces to include a thatch-roofed Fare Pote dining area with a table and chairs. They are 409 square feet and also feature king-sized beds and sleeper sofas.
Splashing and Sipping
Book one of 50 Overwater Bungalows, which rather than being located on long wooden pontoons are clustered in groups on a series of motus (small islands) connected by bridges, and you can make a splash right from your terrace. Groups traveling together (for weddings or meetings) can book bungalows on a single motu and enjoy a sunset cocktail party or barbecue there in private.
Overwater Bungalows are 704 square feet and have a king-sized bed, sleeper sofa and a newly refurbished and extended terrace with a Fare Pote dining area and a lower level with a shower and lagoon access. For the most privacy and top sunset views, book one the 29 Premium Overwater Bungalows.
Just steps from a lovely white-sand beach, the resort's new two-level infinity pool is a fabulous spot to soak up the sun, enjoy a cool-down splash and swim up to the new Motu Oné pool bar, with its in-water stools, for a tropical cocktail (try the Balsamic Martini) and light meals and snacks. New chaises, umbrellas and dining tables have given the area a chic, inviting ambiance.
Nearby, the Fare Hana restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating, serves lighter fare for lunch and dinner. Just upstairs, the Fare Nui restaurant serves a buffet breakfast, but by night it's a gourmet eatery with a view of the pool and beach (a lovely spot for a sunset wedding).
The beach is the setting (with Fare Nui as a back-up in case of bad weather) for a series of three theme nights featuring a buffet and Tahitian dance show: Monday features grilled fish and meat, Wednesday is a BBQ, and Saturday is a seafood buffet.
The InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa offers all the usual water-based activities available in Tahiti: free snorkeling, kayaking and outrigger canoes, plus extra-cost excursions such as para-sailing, water-skiing, Wave Runners, scuba diving and shark and ray feeding.
Also on-site is the Moorea Dolphin Center, where guests can interact and pose with a trio of playful bottle-nose dolphins by signing up for a 30-minute or one-hour program (at an extra cost). Turtle fans can also visit the Turtle Cat Centre, a clinic designed to rehabilitate sick or wounded green and hawksbill sea turtles.
An Al Fresco Spa
Nature is the focus at the simple, open-air and thoroughly Tahitian Helene Spa, built of bamboo and thatch and set in a garden amid coconut trees and hibiscus plants. All products used are sourced from the islands and some treatments feature a dip in River Bath, featuring actual river water topped with tropical flowers (it's chilly but totally refreshing).
There are also four private tropical showers nestled in the gardens and a handful of treatment areas, where massages and body scrubs using vanilla, coconut, papaya and monoi oil are performed in the Tahitian Taurumi massage tradition.