Review: Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort, French Polynesia.
For our stay on the beautiful island of Moorea, French Polynesia we opted for the exotic Sofitel Kia Ora Beach Resort in a private villa beach front bungalow. The Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea was a unique beach resort in French Polynesia that surprisingly placed towards the luxury end of the spectrum. We would spend several days exploring the resort and the area, along with some time underwater at the unique house reef located the resort.
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.
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: Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort, Teavaro, Moorea, French Polynesia.
Booking the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea:
At the time of our visit, there were several chain hotels on Moorea, French Polynesia consisting of the Hilton, the Sofitel and the Intercontinental. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any elite loyalty status at any of them that we could leverage into better accommodations. We did our research and the Hilton and the Sofitel seemed to fare a lot better than the older Intercontinental, which seemed to be set on a less inspiring beach lagoon. When we went to book at the Hilton, all the availability for the decent water view rooms pretty much dried up at the four month mark in advance of our stay so we ended up at the Sofitel by default. This wasn’t a bad thing; we had an excellent time here and we’d easily return without hesitation.
Getting to the Hotel:
The Sofitel is located very close to the Moorea ferry terminal (3 km) and MOZ airport (1km) and has a very short drive to both the airport and the ferry. Some google photographs of the location of the property on beautiful Moorea for those that aren’t familiar with the place.
After arriving by the Papeete – Moorea ferry, we took a $15 USD taxi from the ferry terminal over to the hotel. Surprisingly, there was only one taxi meeting the ferry arrival. I was expecting a taxi rank but for whatever reason, there wasn’t anyone here on our arrival. Luckily, we did not have to call to make any additional arrangements.
Checking into the Sofitel:
The Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort is a bit of a gem in a secluded location, located on a white sand beach of Temae. The property featured 113 luxurious bungalows built over the water, on the beachfront, or surrounded by a nicely and thickly landscaped garden.
On arrival at the Sofitel we were met with “Iorana” (Hello in Polynesian) and had a seated check in on the lobbycouch. A welcome pineapple drink was provided, in addition to a tiare lei. One thing about the lei was that it was incredibly fragrant- more so than in other past check in’s in the Pacific Islands. A copy of our passports were taken and we were encouraged to join the Accor Club hotel program as if they were reading off a script.
Continuing on with the theme in French Polyensia, nothing seems to occur quickly in this country. The check in process was about a twenty minute affair, despite having been booked through the Sofitel website and having a pre-paid reservation, information pre-filled out on the website, and credit card information / loyalty points already submitted.
Our assigned host introduced herself and provided a brief description of the location of the restaurants and the card system that is used at the resort. In addition to room keys, guests are assigned two sets of white cards (snorkel deposits) and 2 sets of black cards (towel deposits). The issuance of key cards for towels seemed to make much more sense than completing a daily contract form like we did at Le Meridien Tahiti earlier in our stay.
There was a small Club Accor exclusive lounge off the lobby. The tag line on the Accord Hotel signs actually says “Feel Welcome” but don’t come in unless you have one of our cards; in five languages.
We didn’t bother visiting as the lounge itself was pretty sparse. It appeared to be more of a holding area rather than a proper lounge. The space it occupied seemed to be a bit of dead space anyways that was repurposed for this lounge use.
We were initially told that our room wasn’t ready, but by the time we got through the twenty minute check in process, a room became available and we were golf carted with our bags to Bungalow # 314. The grounds here are quite pleasant and peaceful to pass through. The individual bungalows are well spaced out, making the property feel more spacious and less occupied than it probably was.
The Room: A Luxury Beach Front Bungalow
The Luxury Beach Front Bungalow, previously known as a Superior Ocean View, Bungalow #314 was situated right on a raised beach wall that was right near the water. All the rooms here are detached villas bungalows; ours was about 10 feet from the water. The bungalows had a shared outdoor shower for rinse offs after swimming.
The Luxury Beachfront Bungalow also offered a private outdoor sitting area. I found the seating area to be quite dark to be of much use. It’s located under the thatched room and as a result, doesn’t get any sun. It’s also worth noting that this resort is East facing, meaning that this outdoor space is only bright in the morning. It ended up being mostly a drying and storage area.
There wasn’t much “beach” in front of our particular villa. It was pretty much straight into the water for snorkelling. This wasn’t a major disadvantage, but more an explanation of what you’d expect with a “Superior Ocean View”… …or at least of an ocean view. It also means that there is no real shoreline in front of these villas
Getting to the room itself, the room was tastefully appointed. The bags were pretty much dropped without much room explanation. The room was straight forward and we were able to figure things out without any problem.
Instead of a larger in room couch, there was a smaller window couch area near a desk and television.
The villa bungalow featured high ceilings, making for this bungalow to be an airy space and feeling larger than expected.
The room had a proper working air conditioner and a full bathroom. Overall, the room was well appointed and tastefully decorated.
There was an information station, along with some advertisements for the spa, along with some complimentary bottled water.
We did a little self discovery and learned that the mini bar (non alcoholic) liquids were complimentary and refilled once per day, but the snacks around the mini bar (Lay’s Chips and Nuts) were for pay. These were always re-stocked without issues through a dedicated attendant. The canned Polynesian fruit juices of pineapple and mango were pretty awesome and seemed to be canned locally.
We found ourselves on the property map. Although a large resort, it didn’t feel that way as we had lots of privacy and seclusion to ourselves.
The room had a nice view of the over water villas. While not to my immediate liking (I’d rather have an endless ocean view), MrsWT73 really liked the view and it’s always a unique hotel to look at over water villas.
Of note, the in room wifi internet was absolutely horrible. It was barely functional in the villas and would require re-connecting for every use. I was barely able to load single photos to Instagram and wasn’t able to load webpages at all. I wouldn’t plan on getting any work done here (checking email) or even Facetime’ing family members. This isn’t usually an issue for a beach resort holiday, but at these prices, you’d at the minimum, expect things like wifi to work as advertised. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with the wifi. As a result, I’d expect to completely “disconnect” during your stay here.
Also worth noting, is that the in room television has one English channel (CNN Cable News Network). All the rest of the channels are in french. No one comes to a beach resort to watch television, but after a few days, the lack of anything other than brash CNN was a bit madding.
Surprisingly, it was mostly an American crowd at this resort with very few French people. There were many couples, married and dating, in addition to several older well heeled groups.
Food and Beverage:
Pure – The Restaurant
On each day of our stay, we had breakfast at the buffet at Pure – The Restaurant. The breakfast was included in our room rate. It was a pretty strong and quality filled buffet; easily the best hotel breakfast of our trip.
The breads were of exceptionally quality, accompanied with real “French” rich tasting butter. Those of you that have dined in France will know exactly what I mean… The croissants were so good, I saw one French looking traveler taking three of them back to his table and devouring them in one sitting. Breakfast was set outside most days with a nice waterfront setting . . .
The Vue Bar
On the day of arrival, we enjoyed lunch at the The Vue Bar; the hotel lounge offering. We each had a croque monsieur, reasonably priced at 16€ with pommes frites, a small salad and paired with a Hinano Tahitian Beer overlooking the water villas… My gosh – it was probably the most tasty croque monsieur I’ve ever had outside of France.
The Sofitel staff were well trained and very attentive to service –although interacting here is a very slow and relaxed affair. It was about 60 minutes to get through a lunch service with only a sandwich and a beer ordered.
Around the Property:
There were pleasant views from the Vue Bar, over the dock as we enjoyed lunch, so the slower pace of dining was not such a bad thing.
We also spent some time on the main dock. There were chairs set up here which led for some great tropical fish watching in the clear waters.
Outdoor Resort Pool:
I took a look at the pool on the way back to the room. There was a nice looking infinity pool by the main restaurant. The pool overlooked the northern pontoon of the over water villas. There always seemed to be a lounge available here during our visit, although we never actually visited here for sun; instead opting for lounging near our villa.
Over Water Villas and Pontoon:
For a possible future stay, I also wandered around the over water villa pontoons. The overwater villas were sitauted over a beautiful blue water lagoon. The over water villas were unique in their own way. Although unfortunately, based on the design, many of them look into each other or towards the land, unlike some others at the Park Hyatt Maldives that are in a singular string facing the sunset.
If you were looking for an endless view, you’ll have to pick your over water villa category carefully as there were 4 different categories when I checked; wholly based on the direction and view. You may end up with a landward view of Moorea island proper- which may not be a bad thing since the mountains on Moorea are super cool.
We eventually settled in and had an easy afternoon enjoying some reading on a lounger outside of our villa. Since the Sofitel on Moorea is east facing, there are no sunset views here. The sun disappears behind the mountain at 4:02 PM (sunset was scheduled for 5:32 PM today). As a result, an eastern facing sunset looks like this. . .
In the next post, I’ll outline some of the fabulous activities at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort and the surrounding area of Teavaro, Moorea, French Polyensia.
The Bottom Line:
The Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort was a really desirable and enjoyable place to be while taking up residence on Moorea. The beach bungalows were really comfortable and set in a resort that was well spread out making the place feel as though it was not heavily occupied.