honeymoon hotels?

Old May 18th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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honeymoon hotels?

My fiance and I are going to the Cooks in September for our honeymoon (we're from Canada), and have booked 9 nights at the Sokala Villas in Raro and 3 nights at the Aitutaki Lagoon (beachfront bunglow). Has anyone stayed at either of these resorts? Any good/bad reviews? Did we make the right choice? Any help would be most appreciated.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 11:13 PM
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don't know whether you have (i couldn't see it) but it would be advisable to post this in the cook islands section as well.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 08:01 AM
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Well, you've certainly made the best choice in regards to views as both locations have (what I think) are the very best vistas of any property on those islands, with the Sokala Villas in particular occupying an extremely beautiful location in a setting that is nothing less that idyllic.

In addition, both offer fairly easy access over to nearby uninhabited motus (islets) for exploring etc.

There are a couple of drawbacks to consider however.

1) In the case of the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, some of the units are reputed to be in need of refurbishment. I've heard this comment from numerous folks who have stayed in the garden bungalows, but the same may not (I I really don't know) be so true of the beachfront units. I was inside one of the overwater units (partially overwater actually) 4 years agao just after they were built (back when the resort was part of the Pearl Beach chain) and that unit was very, very nice indeed. Even at that time however, some of the other units were not really up to snuff - and that does not seem to have changed much. Again however, I'm not sure of the status of the beachfront units.

2) If you want great snorkeling off your doorstep, neither of these places is optimal for that particular activity.

In the case of the Sokala Villas the water there is only about waist-deep or so (in fact you can easily wade over to the nearby motus - which again is a terrific experience) and the bottom very sandy with almost no rocks or coral about. This makes for terrific wading and playing in the water, but withough many good hiding places, there are few fish so snokeling is rather poor.

At the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, much of the area again is rather shallow and seemed to me to be rather murky (not really sure why this is). The area immediately offshore of the beach units and overwater bungalows looked very shallow (knee-deep or so) out for a long way so an trench has been dug between the shore and the this large sand bar so that folks can easily swim - but again, there is not much coral so there are few fish. The channel between the main island of Aitutaki and the small motu that the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort lies on is very clear and full of life - but unfortunately the current there can be very strong and rather dangerous and the area is known for having a number of stonefish (which are very poisonous) clinging to the rock and sitting on the bottom, so swimming/snorkeling there is not recommended.

All in all, these places may very well suit you and the Sokala Villas at least have many fans (myself among them in regards to the views - it is almost certainly the single best piece of property on the entire island of Rarotonga in this regard). Feedback from other folks who've stayed at the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort is a bit more spotty. If snorkeling is really important to you, you may want to consider changing your accomodations on Aitutaki to the Etu Moana - which would also probably be cheaper - and which has terrific snorkeling from the shore (and gets raves reveiws).

I just returned from the Cooks and have posted a bunch of photos on Webshots:

http://community.webshots.com/user/lordbalfor

The newer ones (from my most recent trip to the Cooks) are at the bottom of the page and on page 2.

Ken

PS: In case you did not know it, the Survivor TV crew is currently on Aitutaki preparing for filming for this fall's upcoming season (shooting will take place this summer). They MAY still be filming during your trip which may result in some disruption of tours out to the various motus of the lagoon. Hopefully by then they will be either gone or winding down their production so that any disruptions are minor. Keep in mind though that if you decide to change your accomodations and the Survivor crew is still on the island, that other accomodations will be very tight since the Survivor film crew is reported to be 300 or more - which will really stretch the available rooms. Apparently Etu Moana has said they will not host the Survivor crew, but they are one of the few places to say that.

Have fun. The Cooks are terrific!
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Old May 25th, 2006, 07:26 PM
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Hi Ken,
Thanks so much for your insight into the Cooks ~ I've checked out your pictures, and wow, amazing! Upon doing some research into the Aitutaki Lagoon and reader other forums looks like we'll be cancelling this resort ~ the money they charge is not worth it if the rooms are not up to par. Have you ever stayed at or toured Samade on the Beach? Their website looks wonderful and with just 12 bungalows this is more our style of accommodations. Is this a good location, any good/bad reviews that you've come across? The island will be relatively easy to get around, so if we need to walk to another location for good snorkeling we'll do so ~ we're on vacation so not like we are in a rush to see it all in 1 day. I also noticed the Aitutaki Seaside Lodges, did you tour this property as well? I'm unable to locate a website for them to enquire about rates etc. Any insight would be most appreciated Ken ~ thanks for posting all of your pictures, sure gives travellers a good idea of what to except and what they'll see. thanks, Erin PS ~ we do watch Survivor faithfully so was quite excited to hear they'll be in the Cooks!
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Old May 26th, 2006, 06:37 AM
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Erin -

Samades is in the area of a decent swimming beach - though snorkeling is again rather poor. Note that Samades is essentially just across the channel from the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, so much of what I mention in regrards to view from the area will apply to Samades as well. Note that the bungalows at Samades are not really on the beach, but across a dirt road from it.

There are a few shots of the Aitutaki Seaside Lodges in my NEW Aitutaki Resorts and Bungalows (April 2006) album. The beach tere will offer superior snorkeling - though you will need to wade out a bit as the west side is shallow near the shore. They are very isolated (much more so than at Samades), but I personally would still choose them over Samades (I don't mind the isolation).

Glad you like the photos.
The biggest issue with Survivor will be the fact that accomodations are almost all booked by them and some fo the prettiest motus (islets) in the lagoon will be closed for part of their stay. Not sure if they'll be done in September or not.

Ken
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