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“Good, but could easily have been great with a few tweaks”

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Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Raglan, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Good, but could easily have been great with a few tweaks”
Reviewed 21 March 2012

My mother and I recently stayed at the Sanctuary and had a wonderful time despite some less-than-perfect weather and for the most part we found everything satisfactory. The breakfast got tiresome by about the third day, though it was fine, I think offering eggs would be a nice touch and judging by the vast quantity of chickens on the island, it's can't cost that much more. We had a few wonderful meals at the restaurant, the only thing that really bothered us was that the staff weren't allowed to give the hotel guests water. This is absurd. In a tropical island when I order an expensive meal, I expect there to be tap water available if I want it. The staff tried to tell us the water from the bar wasn't safe to drink...come on now, it's just a money making gimmick and not appreciated at all. We took our water bottles to every meal, refilled them from the restroom and asked the bar for ice, we shouldn't have had to do that, the water at the hotel is treated and should be available any time a guest wants some.

The room was lovely and the room service was exceptional, and all of the staff were lovely. The activities were a nice addition, though we did think it was odd that the tour desk handed us phone numbers and told us to book things ourselves from our room phone.

We loved the tropical gardens, location, pools and dining options and we'd stay here again.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank joshkosh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, 31 March 2012
Kia Orana “joshkosh”

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach.

We are delighted that you enjoyed your Beachfront Suite, room service and staff service at Sanctuary Rarotonga. We are also pleased that the selection of dining options available at our resorts met your expectations. Guests are able to have quick and easy access to a number of Restaurants including:
• Blue Water Grill Restaurant at Sanctuary Rarotonga
• Ginger Garden Asian Restaurant at Sanctuary Rarotonga
• Poolside Pergola at Sanctuary Rarotonga
• TE VAKA Restaurant at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa
• Captain Andy’s Bar & Grill at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa

In regards to your feedback regarding the daily tropical breakfast we offer at Sanctuary Rarotonga, we are actually reviewing all our menus being served in our Restaurants to include a great variety of fresh local ingredients on a daily basis.

Although the Sanctuary Rarotonga has in place a water filtration and UV-sterilization system, which means that the tap water has been through a comprehensive purification process, we do only serve bottled water in our restaurants.

Our Best of the Islands Tour Desk offers guests a full selection of accredited and highly recommended tours and services. We have carefully selected these tours, activities and services based the on the standard of service and quality of experience they provide our guests. However, if a guest chooses to book a tour or service currently not registered through our Tour Desk, they are welcome to do so directly with the operator.

Thank you once again for your review and we hope to be able to welcome you back to Sanctuary Rarotonga in the very near future.

Kia Manuia
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (185)
Date | Rating
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English first
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2012

My husband and I stayed at the Sanctuary one night when we were in Raro as a treat for my birthday. The room was good and it has a nice, but small, pool area. The beach is lovely. I had booked myself in for some spa treatments, a massage and pedicure, and they were okay... I've had better and faster (the pedicure took over an hour!). We had dinner at the restaurant and it was alright. We had better meals in other restaurants and cafes on the island. It was all rather expensive, too. Maybe booking a package through a travel agent would get you a better deal.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Angelco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, 27 March 2012
Kia Orana “Angelco”

Thank you for review in regards to your July 2011 overnight stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga.

We are happy to hear that you found the Beachfront Suite to your liking as well as the sheltered pool facilities.

I must agree, the beach is lovely  The Aroa Beach and Lagoon are the highlight of many of our guests’ stays with us – especially with the direct access to the amazing array of marine life simply steps from your Beachfront Suite.

We also appreciate the feedback received in regards to your Spa experience with us – this has been addressed with our Spa Therapists.

In terms of your dining experience, our Resorts offer over 100 different dishes featuring fresh and local ingredients. We have several Restaurants on site such as:
• Blue Water Grill
• Ginger Garden Asian Restaurant
• Poolside Pergola
• Captain Andy’s Bar & Grill (at our sister resort The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa)
• TE VAKA Restaurant (also at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa)

Thank you once again for your feedback – we hope to be able to welcome you back to the Cook Islands once again in future.

Kia Manuia
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tauranga, New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
116 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 March 2012

We had a great break in May 2011 at the Rarotongan. We opted to stay in the adult wing. Upstairs is definitely the better group of rooms as downstairs anyone walking along the beach can see directly into the downstairs rooms. The food at the restaurant on site was better than we had expected. The weather was much worse than we expected but such is the mix at Rarotonga. The staff were fairly uninterested in service not to say they were rude but just very very laid back. We did have a wonderful massage across the road from the resort (it’s still part of the resort).
Overall the food was fantastic at the various spots we ate at. Top of the list is the Tamarind Tree restaurant. Lovely setting with great food- seafood platter could have easily fed us both. For the most romantic setting I suggest Little Polynesia hotel not far from the Rarotongan. Picture perfect setting, attentive staff and fantastic food.
Overall I would go back but would hope we’d get better weather next time.

Room Tip: Upstairs rooms are quieter and more private than ground floor rooms. Although smoking in rooms below...
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  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank themacgirls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, 27 March 2012
Kia Orana “themacgirls”

Thank you for your review in regards to your May 2011 stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach.

We are pleased that you enjoyed the location of your Beachfront Suite in the upstairs wing of the Sanctuary as these Suites have stunning views of the Aroa Lagoon from the verandahs 

We are also happy to read that you found the meals served in the Blue Water Grill satisfying – there is a great selection of seafood available at the Blue Water Grill and many, many guests have described their dining experiences there as “delicious”, “outstanding” and “mouthwatering”!

It is also delightful that you were able to enjoy the services offered at our destination spa, SpaPolynesia. SpaPolynesia certainly provides a relaxing and rejuvenation spa experience for its guests including treatments such as massages, scrubs, wraps, manicures and pedicures as well as facials. There is so much to do in so little time 

Once again, thank you for your feedback in regards to your stay – we hope to be able to welcome you back to Sanctuary Rarotonga in the near future.

Kia Manuia
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 4 Contributor
18 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2012

The helpfulness and friendliness of the staff cannot be faulted.
One member of staff in particular was extremely helpful, and had usually completed requests before being asked.
However.. for a hotel that commands such a price tag, there are drawbacks.
The whole place looks like it needs a really, really, good scrub with Jif. All the tables in the dining room had the air of being wiped down, rather than cleaned. The room we had had dust bunnies under the bed, and all round the back of the fridge and under the desk. Cobwebs in the corners, etc. Exposed wiring in the corners of the rooms where the "that'll do" attitude to building had taken over.
The Crown, up the road, is only marginally more expensive. And is worth the extra.

Room Tip: Don't get the room next to the dining area. You'll have early wake ups every day!
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Matt B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, 27 March 2012
Kia Orana “MattB”

Thank you for your review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach.

We are delighted that you found the services offered by our staff excellent and they are also pleased to read your comments in this regard 

Our public areas have thorough and comprehensive cleaning schedules which are maintained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This also applies to our guest rooms which have detailed inspections prior to and during guest stays.

Our Executive Housekeeper would have been happy to assist you with addressing your concerns in regards to cleanliness had this been raised at the time.

Thank you once again for your feedback.

Kia Manuia
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Greater London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 2012

The beachfront room in the Sanctuary was great and the majority of the staff at the bar and reception was incredibly friendly and helpful. This however does not make up for someone who starts using a high pressure water jet to clean the sunbeds at 10am in the morning and never stops, nor does it make up for tile cutting behind your door at 9am or the housekeeping staff who simply ignore the "do not disturb sign" at 8.30am and open the door after knocking once. It is great to stay in a kids-free resort but we ended up moving to the main resort where the kids are but nobody is cutting tiles all day (we left for a cruise at 10am and when we got back at 2pm it was still ongoing! other guests grumbled it had been non-stop).

Check-out at 10am is strictly enforced (our keycard failed when we got back at 10.05am after breakfast) and hefty charges apply for using your room longer. There is though a good facility with the toilet/shower room near the Sanctuary reception. This is ideal if you have a late night flight back and don't want to pay NZ$95 to extend your check out until noon and NZ$15 per hour after that.

The guest compendium contains loads of information and is worth reading upon arrival.

The night snorkeling (Thursday night when we were there) is good fun and worth doing (although NZ$ 25pp for 1 hour snorkeling with a torch and hot chocolate afterwards is a lot).

The location though is fantastic; the marine reserve is great for snorkeling and if you stay in the right spot of the Sanctuary then you walk out of your room down the beach into the water in 100 steps. We loved the snorkeling and used the complimentary kayaks from the main resort (everything happens at the Activity Hut in the main resort). We had dinner only once in the resort (seafood platter for 2) and this was very good.

Regarding beds; these are not king beds. They are two large singles zipped together. Great if you want to pretend to sleep in the same bed but have your own space. Not so great if you wanna snuggle up together; one ends up in the middle on the zipper.

The Cook Island bus stop at the reception and is a great way to get around and see the island. Just be mindful that the anti-clockwise bus (shortest way to get back from town) stops at 4.30pm after which you'll have to take a slightly longer route. For the bus buy a 10-trip card NZ$25 on the bus, it gives you 10 rides and can be shared between people ie if there is two of you then they punch the same card twice.

Recommendations: Tumunu restaurant (next door to Edgewater) for the Seafood platter (NZ$69 for 2), Whatever! bar in town, Trader Jacks (seafood platter for 2 NZ$ 75) and if you can go Island Hopping or pick the day tour to Aitutaki).

We had a good time but I strongly question if the Sanctuary can command the premium price it does (no doubt this will trigger another comment from the resort manager on tripadvisor).

Room Tip: The groundfloor rooms have a three piece setting AND sunbeds (the rooms on the first floor only have...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank london4travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RarotonganSales, Director of Sales at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach, responded to this review, 27 February 2012
Kia Orana “london4travel”

Thank you for your TripAdvisor review in regards to your recent stay with us at Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach and for your kind comments in regards to the friendly staff at Sanctuary Rarotonga. They were delighted to receive your feedback from your stay.

We are pleased that you found your Beachfront Suite at Sanctuary Rarotonga a great accommodation for your tropical holiday. As an adult’s only property (for guests 16yrs and older) it has proven to be a popular option for adults seeking the perfect island escape in Rarotonga. Not only are guests at Sanctuary Rarotonga able to escape the “excitement” of our sister resort next door, The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, they are also able to take full advantage of the facilities and services available there in particular, our restaurants and activities.

We do have Duty Manager’s rostered daily between the hours of 7am and 12midnight to assist our guests with resolving issues such as those you have raised in regards to maintenance renovations being carried out in your accommodation area at Sanctuary. We do apologise for the inconvenience this caused during your stay however, our Duty Manager would have been happy to resolve your concerns promptly if raised at the time.

Our check-in time is 2pm and check-out time is 10am. Guests are welcome to request an early check-in before they arrive or on arrival. Guests may also request a late check-out with our reception staff 24hours prior to their departure and this is subject to availability.

We are pleased that you found our Guest Compendiums a useful resource during your stay. We have made our Guest Compendiums available online through our resort websites as well.

Our Night Snorkeling Activity is certainly a highlight of many of our guests’ stays. Night snorkeling is one of our most popular activities as the fish at night is a totally different group of fish from the “day shift” making for a unique experience.

Each room at our resorts offers guests a Californian King Size bed which is able to be separated for the purpose of accommodating two single guests. Many of our guests have commented on how much they enjoy the extra space when sleeping however your concerns regarding your sleeping comfort have been noted and we are currently investigating options to address these.

Our sister resorts The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa and Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach are conveniently located in terms of access to public transport.

We are happy to read that you enjoyed the direct access from your Beachfront Suite to the beach. Some guests do prefer to be located upstairs for the view and others at ground level for the direct access and we often are able to accommodate guests requesting a location preference for their stay.

Thank you once again for your feedback, we hope to be able to welcome you to the Cook Islands in the future.

Kia Manuia & Kind Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach

Property: Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach
Address: Aroa Beach, Aroa Beach, Cook Islands
Phone Number:
Region: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Rarotonga > Aroa Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Aroa Beach
Price range (per night): $252 - $547
Hotel Class:4 star — Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach 4*
Number of rooms: 49
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A true taste of the exotic Cook Islands in the heart of the South Pacific, Sanctuary Rarotonga is an adults-only resort located on the pristine white sand shores of Aroa Lagoon. All suites are absolute beachfront. Tropical buffet breakfast, many resort activities, and daily activities program are included in the nightly rate. The perfect location for a romantic honeymoon or a relaxed beach holiday. Three effortless Weddings in Paradise packages. A true South Pacific paradise. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Hotel Aroa Beach
Sanctuary Rarotonga-On The Beach Aroa Beach

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