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Reviewed 28 April 2010

My husband and I enjoyed a very pleasant and relaxing stay at the Sofitel Ia Ora Beach Resort on Moorea Apr 14-17, 2010. Our Air Moorea flight arrived at 7:15am so we arrived at the hotel well before normal check in time. Our luggage was stored with the bellman while we spent the day at the beach which is very nice with plenty of shady spots under the trees and good swimming and snorkeling. We had to wait until 3:30pm to check in, presumably because our room was not ready, but we noticed other people that arrived later in the day were able to check in to the same type of rooms ahead of us. I have no idea why they were given priority. Maybe the hotel just forgot about us. We booked a Luxury Overwater Bungalow (552 sq ft) through Expedia. All of these rooms are located on the south arm of the overwater bungalows. The Superior Overwater Bungalows (330 sq ft) are located on the north arm. When making the reservations I had assumed that the premium rate would guarantee a horizon/surf ocean view but this is not the case as many of these bungalows are over very shallow water near the beach. We were given bungalow #116 facing the beach bungalows and located over the densest part of the coral reef. This turned out to be the perfect bungalow for us because we spent many hours watching the aquatic wildlife from the deck. This was almost as good as actually snorkeling. We chose this hotel because of its reputation for good snorkeling and it exceeded our expectations. One drawback to this particular room is that it is nearly impossible to swim from it without snorkel gear. The coral is too dense to safely navigate without being able to see below the water. The majority of other bungalows do not have this problem. The even numbered rooms face the beach. These rooms receive direct sun in the afternoon which can be very warm. The odd numbered rooms face the open ocean or the Standard Overwater Bungalows and receive morning sun.
The bungalow was clean, nicely appointed and comfortable although the mattress was very hard. The mini-fridge is not stocked and it is very expensive to purchase soft drinks, wine and liquor from the hotel. There is not a store on the hotel property. In retrospect we wished we had rented a car and gone to a local market to stock up on drinks and snacks. There is an espresso maker in the room. Room service is very prompt although they don't always get the order right.

Most of the front desk staff speak English but most of the other staff do not so some knowledge of French is very helpful in order to expedite any requests you might have. I found the majority of the staff to be very friendly.

We did rent a car for one afternoon to take a drive around the island and up to the Belvedere, Lycee Agricole and Marae Tetiiroa. This adventure really requires a full day as we did not have time to see everything we wished to in just 4 hours. There are several tour companies that will take you to these sites as well. Be prepared for heat and mosquitoes! We stopped for lunch at the very casual Les Tipaniers Beach Restaurant, located directly on the beach behind Les Tipaniers Hotel. The food was good and the Tahitian atmosphere pleasant.

We ate all but one of our meals at the hotel and found the food and wine to be very good. There are some Tahitian dishes on the menu such as poisson cru. The food at "K" is excellent; the meal we had there was one of the highlights of our trip and the elegantly beach-y, romantic atmosphere is not to be missed!

Last but not least, I had a great deal of trouble getting accurate information about Air Moorea when booking the trip. I read several reviews on Trip Advisor warning that there were baggage weight restrictions and that there would be additional charges for any excess weight over 44lbs total. My 3 bags, including carry-ons weighed about 60 lbs. My husband's weighed slightly more. We did not incur any excess baggage charges. It is not possible to carry on more than a totebag or small backpack because the cabin is very small. Larger carry-ons must be checked. Our roundtrip tickets were about $300 US, purchased in advance through AMEX travel. The agent never mentioned anything about different types of fares. While looking for baggage information I finally found the Air Moorea website and it appears that there is a multi-tiered fare system. The higher fare, which we evidently purchased must allow more baggage weight. The ferry is apparently much less expensive! Also, there were no taxis available at the airport when we arrived at 7:15am but a tour guide from Albert's Tours had his van available and took us to the hotel for 1,250 CFP which seemed very reasonable. The Sofitel is only 1km from the airport. I will definitely rent a car the next time I visit Moorea!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank AJConifer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 April 2010

Haven’t stayed at this property in awhile to it was nice to get a renewed sense of ambience, service and décor. Check in was quick and seemless. Stayed in a Luxury Overwater Bungalow. Unlike other categories here, there is a really romantic canopy over the king bed, see my pics. Along with the lighting, this Luxury Overwater catagory is quite a honeymooners dream. Loved the large rain shower and new amenities in the bathroom (shampoo, lotion...ie: rogerR & Gallet Paris…very nice!). Toured the grounds and enjoyed seeing the various bungalow categories, locations, views etc. I did see all the bungalow categories inside and out, so if you have a specific question please just send me a message. The food at this property was a very pleasant surprise. Some innovative things on the menu like a brie-pate-some sort of yummy chutney-sandwich! Delicious! The Poison Cru was the best I had on this trip (fish marinated in coconut milk, lime & veggies)!! There is a gorgeous pencil coral garden just to the left of the end of the overwater bungalows for snorkeling, and the swimming is wonderful! The service was friendly at the front desk. The resort was pretty full because of the Easter break so the restaurant at breakfast was really bustling. Snorkel gear and non-motorized sports (except bicycles) are free. At check in they give you a little plastic card for towels at the pool, and one for snorkel gear, that you merely hand over when you want each. The pool is pretty, the deck at the main restaurant is expansive, and the view is spectacular of Tahiti across the bay. There isn’t much around the resort so a rental car is necessary for touring or to the market, but most restaurants will pick you up if you want to go out for dinner. All in all it was a great stay at Sofitel Moorea. Sunny regards, Shully

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled with friends
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2  Thank shully
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2010

The Ia Ora beach resort has comfortable rooms and nice restaurants, but it fails to live up to its billing.

I had a garden bungalow a about 100 feet from the beach. The snorkeling was fine and the buffets were excellent. I did not have an opportunity try their signature restaurant - it was more suited to couples than singles.

I had a few problems with the resort itself. The beach, supposedly on of the best on Moorea, was full of large coral pieces and coral rubble was just off the beach. I had hoped to take in some of the activities listed on the hotel's web site, but the activities director was not of any help. The web site also promised hammocks at every bungalow, but they were only available at the beach. The scuba diving, which I arranged on my own by stopping by the scuba shack, involved a long wait for a short dive. The housekeeping and facilities management staff was always zipping along the pedestrian paths expecting the pedestrians to yield.

The beds were hard as sleeping on a stack of cardboard. They explained to me that that was due to the warm climate - I live in a desert area of the US where summer temperature often tops 115, so the explanation did not sit well with me. After a night of no sleep, I was able to get a feather topper and sleep the remaining evenings. It was strange that they provided heavy duty comforters on top of the bed - so much for the room being too warm.

The greatest challenge I faced at this property was my inability speak French. Whereas most of the other properties I had visited had native staff who were happy to speak English and try to teach me a little French and Tahitian, there were many more native Frenchmen and women on this hotel's staff. Few knew any English, which I thought was strange for an international destination. I was most frustrated at the restaurant where the staff didn't understand the concept of water or soft drinks. Fortunately, I was eventually able to fine the 1 in 6 who spoke English.

After all of this, I still recommend the facility to anyone who speaks French, but not to the typical mono-lingual Anglophile.

Stayed: October 2009, travelled solo
3  Thank holtjeh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2010

We just got back from 6 days and 5 nights in an overwater bungalow at the Sofitel for our 30th wedding anniversary. If you truly want a fantastic view with the ultimate of rest and relaxation, an overwater bungalow is the way to go, especially if you get one further out over the water like we did. We went through a travel agent and it definitely made a difference in stating what we wanted and what we could afford. Our travel agent requested that we have a bungalow furthest out and early check in and check out so that we could enjoy that much more time in it. All the arrangements were made and worked out perfect. All the transfers were on time, efficient, and the luggage made it too. Our bungalow had air conditioning which was handy in the heat, a small fridge, and we couldn't ask for better snorkeling right off the balcony. The infinity pool at the hotel was awesome. There were some things that you need to be aware of when you go. It is hot and humid, there are mosquitos (Avon skin so soft works well), and with the hotel being isolated like it is, inexpensive food is a chore to seek out (hotel restaurant is good but very expensive) ($30-50 per person with buffet being over $100 per person). I highly recommend the breakfast plan at least because that was excellent and at least you didn't have to worry about one meal. Taxis are expensive (over $20 each way) and so are most of the restaurants on the island, even if some do offer free transportation. If your flight back to Los Angeles leaves at 10 PM, be prepared to wait in an un-air conditioned terminal for a few hours with once again, expensive food and drink. All a small price to pay for a once in a lifetime trip to paradise for a middle class couple like us. The over 100 pictures we took speak louder than words ever could.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank bdfred16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2010

My husband and I spent 4 nights at the Sofitel Moorea on the first part of our Moorea & Bora Bora trip. We booked our trip at Costco Travel, who took care of all the flights, transfers from Papeete, and breakfast buffets. We stayed at the Four Seasons Bora Bora for the second part of our trip.

First, I would recommend getting the breakfast buffet plan, it worked for us-- because we were able to roll out of bed, enjoy a nice meal with a beautiful view, then go back to our overwater bungalow to chill out and do whatever we wanted the rest of the day. No need to worry about being hungry and looking for food elsewhere. The breakfast buffet at Sofitel was pretty good, with more variety of food compared to the Four Seasons Bora Bora.

We actually ate our other meals mostly around the rest of the island-- and we found that K, the Sofitel's fine dining restaurant, was the best gourmet food compared to some of the other local restaurants.

The snorkeling underneath our bungalow was out of this world. I've done lots of snorkeling in my lifetime- but it was so awesome to be able to jump off the bungalow and discover a world full of underwater life right below where you slept last night. This was the perfect place for a relaxing, quiet vacation.

The air conditioning in our bungalow wasn't working, so we got moved to another bungalow, with a better view. Then, the manager sent over a bottle of champagne to apologize for the inconvenience.

I would definitely recommend this resort!

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank travelbug_lover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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