Review: Le Meridien Tahiti, Puna’auia, Tahiti Nui, French Polynesia
Our time in french Polynesia was longer than anticipated as a result of patchy business class award availability. To mitigate the expense of staying at a very expensive resort for our nine day stay, we broke up our time in French Polynesia at three different resorts. Our first resort was the Le Meridien Tahiti on the main island of Tahiti Nui. Unfortunately, it was not the best resort of the trip, with staff just going through the motions and rooms in a substantial need of repair and upkeep.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Fiji, New Zealand & French Polynesia via Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui Business Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Vancouver – Seattle
- Alaska Airlines Board Room – North Satellite – Seattle – Tacoma, USA
- Alaska Airlines: Seattle – Los Angeles
- The Los Angeles International Lounge, Tom Bradley International Terminal, USA
- Fiji Airways Business Class: Los Angeles – Nadi
- The Sheraton Resort and Spa Tokoriki Island, Fiji
- The Westin Denaru Island Resort and Spa, Fiji
- Fiji Airways Tabua Lounge, Nadi International Airport, Fiji
- Fiji Airways Business Class: Nadi – Auckland
- Air New Zealand – Auckland Domestic Lounge, New Zealand
- Air New Zealand – Auckland Regional Lounge, New Zealand
- Air New Zealand: Auckland – Blenheim
- The Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Blenheim, New Zealand
- Four Sauvingon Blanc Wineries and One Lunch, Blenheim, New Zealand
- Four Pinot Noir Wineries and One Lunch, Blenheim, New Zealand
- A Circle Driving Day: Blenheim – Nelson – Picton – Blenheim, New Zealand
- Air New Zealand Blenheim – Auckland
- Air New Zealand – Auckland International Lounge, New Zealand
- Air New Zealand Economy Sky Couch: Auckland – Papeete
- Le Meridien Tahiti, Papeete, French Polynesia
- Visiting the Papeete Market and Taking the Ferry: Papeete – Moorea, French Polynesia
- The Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort, French Polynesia
- Cycling in Teavaro and Snorkelling in Moorea, French Polynesia
- Air Tahiti: Moorea – Bora Bora
- Le Meridien Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- Air Tahiti: Bora Bora – Papeete
- Air Tahiti Nui Salon Manuhiri Business Lounge, Papeete, French Polynesia
- Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class: Papeete – Los Angeles
- The United Club, Los Angeles Terminal Seven
- American Airlines First Class: Los Angeles – Vancouver
Review: Le Meridien Tahiti, Puna’auia, Tahiti Nui, French Polynesia.
Booking the Le Meridien Tahiti:
We had nine nights in Tahiti by virtue of reward seat availability, or the lack thereof. Initially, we were hoping for more like a seven day stay. It’s hardly an ideal situation in a country where some hotels can go for over $2,500 a night at the high end.
We decided to stay at Le Meridien Tahiti for two nights on the way in, as the price point was a bit lower than most of the other properties we were staying at in Tahiti. We ended up saving about $1,000 CAD by working in a few nights here. In addition, our arriving international flight arrived late and we would have arrived after dark to Moorea by the time we had taken another flight or ferry to get over there.
I ended up locating a AAA rate for about $350 USD a night, which was a substantial saving from our other hotels on the trip. Le Meridien Tahiti didn’t have the greatest reviews and having now stayed here, I can’t imagine why you’d travel from overseas to stay here as a primary property.
Getting to the Le Meridien Tahiti:
Tamanu, 98718 Puna’auia, French Polynesia
We took a taxi from the taxi rank at the airport. Our driver was able to get us there within 15 minutes for 2,700 CPF’s ($26 USD).
We arrived to the main gate and past a sorry looking fountain that was out of service on our visit. It sort of set a sad tone for the stay overall.
This property had been described elsewhere as a Holiday Inn from the 1970’s. I’d have to stay that description is pretty accurate. It has a French Polynesian theme to it with some seventies red. I think it’s supposed to be vibrant, but I found it came off looking quite tired.
Checking into the Le Meridien Tahiti:
I had attempted to apply Starwood Preferred Guest (now Marriott Bonvoy) Suite Night Awards into a Junior Suite category; the only rooms available in the Suite Night Award pool. The Suite Night Awards failed to clear, despite it only being a 2 night stay.
While we checked in, I asked if there were any Platinum Suite upgrades available. Our host did check with the manager but unfortunately none were available. This wasn’t really a surprise as online availability was pretty much non existent for months prior to travel, but I thought that I would check anyway.
According to the past reports on this property, there wasn’t a lot of great past elite loyalty Platinum treatment. I didn’t push our requests as the suite was not important for our short stay. We did get a pre-assigned upgrade to a Panoramic Room, which is on a higher floor and has a view of the water.
The Room: A Panoramic Room
We guided ourselves up to our assigned Panoramic Room 564. The room had been recently upgraded with tasteful colours, but aspects of the room were showing quite a bit of wear and tear. If I was being frank, over the years, I’ve stayed in about 40 Starwood different hotels internationally on 5 continents. This one gets the sad award for easily being in the worst room in terms of “wear and tear shape” of them all.
The room started off with a comfortable bed and some reasonable decor for a regular hotel room. At least the decoration was memorable in a good way, as I hadn’t stayed in a hotel room that looked like this recently or anywhere else in the future.
The washroom was otherwise nicely decorated with the usual Malin and Goetz toiletries with their partnership with Le Meridien.
In general, the room was in rough condition. While some areas were patched up, others were really showing markings. An example of this was that the desk in the room appeared to be de-laminating; there were over 25 spots where you could count the scratches on the desk. It looked as though the desk was made of particle board and that the cardboard was showing through. There were some mild stains on the linen and the air conditioner in the room clunked throughout the night.
There was even a drywall cut out in the bathroom ceiling where they were conducting (or were conducting) some work that appeared to have been patched up. In fairness, in our room the bed linens were in good condition (aside from the stain) the walls were scuff free (except for the wall size picture which was heavily scratched) and everything in the room was in working condition.
The room did feature a nice view as promised (in the Panoramic Room category) that over looked a water feature with lilies, with an ocean facing orientation. I am personally not one to appreciate water features – I see them more as mosquito breeding grounds. The lilly ponds seem to be really popular in French Polynesia.
At the time of our stay, the hotel participated in “faites un choix ecologique” (Make a Green choice).
While the room itself was in less than favourable shape, I didn’t find it worthwhile to attend to the front desk for a different room. Being happy with the view from the room, we ended up just sticking with the run down condition of the room. In addition, only being at the property for a few nights also didn’t prompt much of a need for a change.
On Property Dining:
The visitors to this property appeared to be mostly an international group. French couples, families from the United Kingdom, Americans or other business travellers dining and visiting solo.
We had dinner the first night at Le Plantation, which is the main hotel restaurant. We did a little self property orientation on arrival and the place was so deserted at 6 PM, we actually thought the restaurant was closed. It was sort of the vibe that the place had… not many people and a bit without personality.
The Plantation restaurant was a self service concept where you identify the kind of meat (meat and fish) you want and it is cooked for you with one side and one sauce. It was reasonably priced for resort food – much cheaper and larger portions than our recent Sheraton Resort at Tokoriki Island experience. Either everyone eats late, or no one eats here at all…
The next morning and throughout our stay, we had the loyalty elite platinum breakfast at Le Plantation. During breakfast hours, it is a full buffet complete with an egg station. There are juices but, unusually for a French Overseas Territory, no sparking wine. The breakfast was a standard offering but nothing all too special. It seemed like many of the staff were just going through the motions and seemed pretty dis-interested with their jobs. This may have been an assumption on my part as it seemed a bit typical of the “French” standard of service.
Around the Property:
A Sandy Bottomed Pool
We spent the next day at the pool. Although towel accounting isn’t unusual, this property has guests complete a form with two parts when a towel is signed out. This is handed to you when you take the towel and theoretically a charge is placed on your room account. We set up by the sandy bottom pool, which was not heated (a good thing). The whole property was mostly deserted during our stay.
The Beach at the Le Meridien Tahiti Resort:
While MrsWT73 was enjoying her afternoon, I went around and took some property photos. The beach here, like the beach in Fiji’s Denarau Island, is pretty uninspiring. I would not recommend staying here on a long Tahiti beach holiday as there are much better beaches elsewhere; especially if you have traveled all this way to get here.
The beach was marked with a snorkel trail under the over water villas. The over water villas appeared to be completely closed during our visit. There was a padlock over the access way to the pontoon so I suspect they were in the process of being refurbished. It may have explained why there was no suite upgrades available.
Strangely, there were also lots of chickens and roosters roaming the property. I never got to find out the reason why there were many chickens around the property, but they were certainly cock-a-doo’ing at day break.
The fine dining area is right on the water, as is the evening bar. Returning to MrsWT73, we were set to order lunch on our loungers overlooking the water. I went to the pool restaurant but was informed that they don’t allow eating by the pool, or elsewhere on the grounds outside of the restaurant. In this case, we were talking about a difference of about 75 meters between the pool area and the restaurant. Strangely, they allow lots of smoking in this area since all the French around us were smoking. Unfortunately, it was not very hospitable or accommodating experience, which we found was the theme of this overall property. I just didn’t figure out whether this was simply because it was a French resort, or the overall attitude of this property.
A Nearby Supermarché:
One good thing about the property is that there is a supermarket within walking distance. It was immediately out of the front doors of the property and up the highway about 5 minutes walk towards the airport. There was heaps of wine and other food available and we ended up returning once to stock our suitcases before we went onward to Moorea and Bora Bora.
It’s not often you get to a beach resort supermarket that has a wine shelf that’s stocked like this! Champagne was available for about $80 USD- almost reasonable considering the distance that it had traveled to get here.
Le Meridien Tahiti Sunsets:
We had several nights at the resort. During our time here, we did get in a sunset or two from the island of Tahiti Nui. The sunsets were better than what we would get at home. The clouds were tropical in nature but the backdrop was pretty simple in nature without much hills or other things to make the sunset outstanding.
The Bottom Line: Le Meridien Tahiti
Overall, I wasn’t all to impressed by the Le Meridien Tahiti. The aged condition of the property and the rooms with wear and tear didn’t really impress me. If you added the less than inspiring beach, the casual attitude by the staff and the difficulties in something as simple as having a sandwich by the pool seemed to make matters much more complicated than it needed to be. The fact that we paid about $350 USD for a night here made the value proposition even worse. Ultimately, it serviced the need as a place to stop over on the way to Moorea and was cheaper than the high rates we paid on the outer islands. Other than a simple sun tanning spot, or a place to pass through on the day of arrival from an overseas flight, I regretfully have to advise that this place is best avoided.