Wednesday 10 October 2012

Pacific Resort Rarotonga - review

This is the second time I’ve stayed at this resort, and I’d be happy to come again. I like that it’s not huge – just 50 rooms of different types scattered through the grounds. Last time I had the fancy 2 bedroom beachfront villa with the upper storey and nothing between me and any incoming tsunami; this time it’s a less grand premium beachfront suite, ground floor, which has been perfectly pleasant. Huge bed, lots of space, ranchsliders onto a little deck and lawn (with passing dogs and chickens) and a couple of very-hard-to-leave beanbag loungers (I have the sunburn to prove it).

Breakfast is in Sandals Restaurant, over the water of a little stream and nicely landscaped: I’ve only had the buffet this time, and it was fine if not very lavish. Fruit, usual cereals, some cheese and ham, muffins, breads – nothing exciting, but adequate. We had a lunch in the beachfront dining area, under canvas and on the sand, which is nice, especially if the wind’s not blowing (though if it is, there’s a plastic window they roll down) – my BELT was huge and filling, with rather more tomato sauce than I would have preferred. I’ve only had starters for dinner in the Barefoot Bar, and they were both very tasty, especially the pork belly, which I’m going to have again tonight.

The gardens are amazingly neat and pretty – think tiare bushes, frangipani, hibiscus, protons, various types of palm, totally dominated grass – and continuously maintained by a cheerful gardener undaunted by the Augean task of sweeping sand off the paths. He even dealt to the calling card left by a passing dog before much time had passed, for which I was grateful. There’s a pool too, out of the wind, where you can have scuba lessons if you like; and on the beach you can borrow kayaks, be shown how to windsurf, and do stand-up paddling. The beach isn’t wide, but the sand is beautifully soft, and in the shallow lagoon there is coral to snorkel over; and a couple of islands that are just the right distance away for a mini-expedition. Just along the beach there are cafes and restaurants, kite-surfers for hire, a glass-bottomed boat cruise, and other diversions. Along the road, at the associated very flash Te Manava Villas, there’s a spa for massages and similar indulgences: I enjoyed my massage yesterday and found it relaxing, although I was as slippery as an eel at the end of it.

The staff are all friendly and efficient, doing their jobs without fuss. The other guests are mostly Kiwis, with a fair sprinkling of English, a few Americans and Australians. There are a lot of family groups at the moment, and it’s been lovely to see the children having fun: they haven’t been annoying, not even the baby next door. I have no complaints! It must be that famously laid-back Cooks Islands vibe…

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