Hotel Review: Intercontinental Resort Tahiti
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
The Intercontinental Resort Tahiti is located in Faa'a located around 10mins drive from south west from Faa'a international airport and around 15mins drive from downtown Papeete. Offering a range of accomodation from classic and executive rooms in the main building through to their overwater bungalow suites. We decided to stay here after our French Polynesian Cruise on Oceania Marina, you can read more about that trip here. As we had never experienced staying in an overwater bungalow before we decided to take the plunge and book the $890USD per night overwater bungalow suite for one night before our flight home to Australia so we could experience it. (It should be noted that French Polynesia is one of the most expensive places on earth to visit unless your on a cruise).
We were excited to have our first experience in an overwater bungalow, its certainly impressive as you head along your own little private boardwalk to the front door. The bungalows are spacious with an open plan design and seperate bedroom and sitting areas, cut in to the open plan space is the deck which has its own stairs down in to the water. The bathroom was large and well appointed, it was pretty cool to have a shower with the sound of the sea sloshing under the bungalow. We loved the little deck and its sun lounges however due to the orientation of our particular bungalow it was in full tropical sun all day, so having no shade at all we avoided sitting out there until the sun had started to set. We swam and snorkelled off of the deck and were pleased to find that coral had started growing on the stilts of the bungalow so we could take pictures of the coral and the tropical fish living around it. We booked a non smoking room but it stank of cigarette smoke, when we enquired with reception they assured us that it was a non smoking room. We noticed later in the day during turn down service that the cleaning staff smoke as they work which would explain why the rooms and linen all stank of smoke.
What anyone visiting Tahiti needs to understand is that you won't receive service like you would expect back home, tipping is not practiced here and ever since the French introduced regulated hourly wages to the pacific the locals have worked out they get paid anyway regardless of how fast they work or what service they provide. You will find that if you try to get the attention of staff they will generally look at you as if you're an inconvenience to them. Based on our experience we found a few things quirky and odd but its not to say that this is unique to this resort, it may be the case in other resorts on the island too. As the sun was setting we decided to order some champagne to the room to watch the sunset from our private deck but were surprised to find that unless you want a $400.00 USD bottle of Dom Perignon your only option was a $50.00 USD bottle of Duval Leroy Brut as that was all room service offered (there is no room service menu in the room to look at). When a staff member eventually arrived and slammed down the tray on the table, turned and walked back out without saying a word we realised the $50.00 USD bottle was actually a piccolo accompanied by two glasses so a sip each was all we got. How the staff thought that there are two glasses of Champagne in a piccolo I have no idea. The service at the restaurant at dinner was not much better, you can read more about the restaurant below. The following day we were sitting by the pool relaxing and decided to order some food and drinks, as we couldn't get any attention from the staff I went and ordered from the Tiki Bar. The bar staff were friendly but strangely when the pool staff collect your empty glass they never ask you if you would like another and then they've vanished again leaving you to walk to the bar to get another drink. Perhaps they should pay their staff a commission and then they may be interested in taking an order. After all of this we do have to mention the outstanding staff at reception who were helpful, friendly and went over and above. When we arrived in Tahiti we had booked a room at the airport hotel before our cruise, we had made an error with our booking dates by arriving a day early due to crossing the dateline and they had no spare rooms. We went to the intercontinental but they were booked out as well, however the reception staff stored our bags, gave us juice and keys to the shower rooms so we could freshen up and then they proceeded to ring all of the other hotels on the island to see if anyone had a room. They kindly said that if they couldn't find any rooms we were free to sleep in the lobby lounge, in the end they found a hotel in downtown with a room for us and then arranged a taxi to take us there. It should be noted that the hotel did all of this for nothing as we weren't even guests that night and we were extremely appreciative especially being that it was 2am in the morning.
Restaurants & Bars
We decided to eat at Le Lotus the premium restaurant at the resort, it's housed in several thatched open air overwater structures. The cuisine is French-Asian fusion a take on French classics with some Asian flavours. Personally we found the flavours didn't really work with the French style of cooking and were disappointed with the food quality, although the view is amazing the service and food were average at best. We would recommend eating at the resorts Tahitian restaurant where you can enjoy lots of fresh local fare. There are two night time bars the Lobby bar and the Tiki bar, the lobby bar does great cocktails in a chilled out atmosphere whereas the Tiki bar is their live music venue. We decided on late night cocktails at the Lobby Bar, the staff were very friendly and they made good cocktails too, their cocktails cost around $22.00 USD each but thats about standard in Tahiti.
It's unfortunate about the service because this hotel has amazing facilities, there is an infinity edge freshwater pool and below is a salt lagoon stocked with coral and tropical fish. There is also another sand bottomed pool with swim up bar located closer to the overwater bungalows but space is at a premium here. Because our flight wasn't until late in the evening the reception staff gave us a day pass so we could get towels and access shower rooms so we spent all day snorkelling the lagoon and hanging out at the pool. We also ordered some drinks and an antipasto platter from the tiki bar, as mentioned above the staff at the bar were good but the service around the pool was poor. They also have the usual day spa services that most resorts have so if you want a massage or treatment the service is there.
As mentioned this resort has amazing facilities and exceptional reception staff however the service everywhere else seems to be poor, if it was a cheap place to stay we could handle the poor service but when they're charging top dollar we did expect better. It was a place that we had looked forward to staying at but unfortunately left feeling disappointed. Hopefully they will do some staff training to help improve their service and they should also prevent staff from smoking whilst on the job.
Want More Information?
For more information about the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa you can visit their website www.tahiti.intercontinental.com
About The Author
Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.