Saturday, 15 March 2014

Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti

We arrived in Pape ‘ete from Brisbane via Auckland at 1am local time the same day as we had left Brisbane about 14 hours earlier at 11.15am! We had two Oct 21st which was very strange as we crossed the International Date Line. It was however a very long day so we pleased to arrive at the hotel.
The pickup from Fa’aa airport went smoothly and we were greeted with a lovely scented flower lei and a group of local singers serenading us as we went through passport control and collected our bags. The lei incidentally still smelt lovely in our room on the day we left five days later so the Tahitian gardenia has a very powerful aroma.

The hotel reception area was airy and open and the lady behind the desk was lovely. We were upgraded to a suite with an ocean view and asked if we needed help with our luggage which we declined and set off to find it. There were about 6 blocks of rooms and we were in the 6th on the top floor but luckily there was a lift otherwise the luggage would have been a problem up all the stairs.

We opened the door to our suite and wow! Amazing! Downstairs was a sitting room with a desk and cupboards/wardrobes. There was a downstairs loo, a fridge and kettle with tea/coffee etc. A TV unit was in the wall, the floors were beautiful hardwood polished with cream walls and simple cane furniture with cream cushions. This floor had a large private balcony with two sun beds and two chairs and a table.

Up the lovely solid wooden stairs we went to discover our bedroom which was beautiful. There was an enormous bed facing the drawer unit which had a TV on it. As you came up the stairs there was a large wardrobe unit inside this was a safe with number code. To the left of the bed as you stood at the foot was a window that went to the floor and from this the view was ‘to die for’. We could lie in bed and see over the lovely free form pool out to the ocean through the trees. It really was the most beautiful bedroom view and each night we left the curtains open so we woke to this stunning view in the morning.

The bathroom had a really big shower with glass front, a sink with under shelf, toilet and bath too. There are not many places you can sit on the toilet and see the view of the ocean through a large floor to ceiling window!

Extras provided included a hair dryer in the bathroom and bathroom scales (who wants to weigh themselves on holiday?), an iron and ironing board, a folding suitcase stand. On our bed, when we arrived, was a personal welcoming letter and two lovely soaps from the spa which I was very touched with. In the bathroom was shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel, a shower cap and two different kinds of soap. Downstairs there were three kinds of tea, decaff and normal coffee but only vanilla flavoured coffee mate which were lovely in coffee but disgusting in tea. Luckily I had taken some mini UHT packs so they did for my tea. We were rather taken with the sugar packs which had Tahitian pictures on the back so we opened them carefully and made a small collection of those.

To continue with the good, internet was FREE and unlimited which was how I managed to read/rate a few reviews while away. You could either connect with wifi in the bar or Reception or connect via a cable to the connection near the phone in your room. I thought this was a real bonus and the best bargain in Tahiti!

The pool below our room was lovely, a free form infinity pool with a very gradual increase in depth so you could walk in like on a beach. It was wonderfully relaxing and around the pool were plenty of trees and sun beds so there was never a problem getting a chair or finding shade. Pool towels were available from a man in a hut but most of the time he wasn’t there so we just helped ourselves. 

Down from the wooden boardwalk around the pool you could get on to the black sandy beach. Unfortunately the sea shelved very quickly and the waves breaking at the edge threw sand and pebbles at you as you entered the sea. There were also quite strong riffs so after testing the water we decided the pool was a more pleasant option but it was nice to see and hear the sea.

The pool bar and main restaurant was beside the pool and the beach and the setting could not have been nicer. The staff were all delightful and tried to give you a table right at the front looking at the sea.
There was another a la carte restaurant that was next to the reception area but it was pricey and also only open on certain days. The Lafayette bar was also above the reception area but we didn’t explore that as we were content with the one by the pool. The other side of the reception area there were shops and there was also a spa with a sauna and steam room which we could use but we were not tempted as it was already quite warm and we preferred the sun to a steam room or sauna.

Tahiti is VERY expensive, quite shockingly so. Our breakfasts were not included and this was the only hotel where they were not included in all our island stays. The buffet breakfast cost about £18 a head which we felt was quite steep. The breakfasts were quite good, plenty of fresh fruit, yogurts and fruit salad, fruit juices (no Bucks fizz here!). There were cold meats, cheese and salad stuff, including black olives and gherkins which we made good use of and made a sandwich for our lunch too.  The hot stuff included an egg station, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, grilled tomatoes and French toast. Some days there were pancakes and maple syrup but I only had them once. The bread was limited to French bread, sliced bread and rolls and there were different pastries and things like banana bread which I took for my afternoon tea. It was quite a good breakfast but didn’t compare to the Hilton in Fiji which was a lot cheaper.

It was possible to have an a la carte breakfast but that worked out even more. An American couple next to us ordered a la carte and their exclamations about the prices showed they felt the same as we did. We had no choice but to eat in the hotel as it was miles out of Papeete so we made sure we got our money’s worth.
To add insult to injury on Sunday they called breakfast ‘Sunday Brunch’ and the price increased to about £24 each. The food offered was a little different in that it included a lot of the left overs from the buffet meal the night before!! I avoided those dishes as they included raw fish so really it was a bit of a cheek but it seemed that a lot of local Tahitian families came for this brunch and then stayed to use the hotel facilities on a Sunday.

We ate two evening meals here.  One was a la carte in the sea front restaurant. The food was okay, nothing special but well cooked and there was enough.. The second was the ‘Round the world’ buffet with Tahitian show on Saturday night which we paid over 12000 Pacific French francs about £100 for two – with about £10 tax added to the bill at the end. The salad stuff was very nice, fresh, tasty and included the raw fish salad and a few local things. My husband tried the hot choices and came back with the strangest selections of food – a rather tasteless chicken curry, a dry lamb dish, gnocchi with mussels and nachos that had no chilli at all. He was unimpressed. I enjoy the salad stuff so stuck with that and then explored the desserts. These were actually very nice. They looked good, there was a nice balanced selection and they tasted good too. There was a lovely almond pie, tiramisu, chocolate mousse and some others but not one had any hint of anything that could be even vaguely Tahitian about it which was a bit disappointing.

All in all we felt five days was too long here, I will write a separate review on Tahiti itself and you will see why. The resort was lovely but there was really nothing to do there apart from swim and sunbathe or in my case catch up with my Ciao and Dooyoo reads! The room we had was probably one of the best we have stayed in but after a while the excitement of a nice room even with a lovely view begins to wear a bit thin if there is nothing to do or see. Our stay here cost us about £400 just for two evening meals and four breakfasts – that is a lot of money for some very ordinary meals.

According to our guide on the one trip we did this hotel is joining the Hilton and the Hyatt that have already closed in Tahiti so it may not be around much longer. Maybe tales of Tahiti’s outrageous prices have started to reach the travelling public and they are voting with their feet.

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