Hotel Review: Sofitel Ia Ora Beach Resort, Moorea
Upon entering the grounds at the Sofitel, we were immediately greeted with with fresh juice, tiare-scented cold towels and the traditional flower necklaces…and let me tell you, it was fabulous. In 85 humid degrees, there’s nothing better than a cold drink and a very cold towel. We were seated in the lobby to complete the check-in process and thankfully our room was ready when we arrived (30 minutes early for check-in). Overall, this resort is absolutely gorgeous and the service was some of the best we experienced in French Polynesia so read on to find out more!
The location is perfect- it’s about 5 minutes from the ferry port so getting to the hotel is a breeze. In total, the island is only about 1 hour roundtrip drive, but it’s very convenient being so close to the ferry since taxis are definitely on the pricier side (since gas is $9 a gallon). It’s also convenient to all the major attractions on the island, like the Lagoonarium. There are some fantastic dive sites within a ten minute boat ride so diving from the property is a breeze. The Sofitel has a dive center on property and they offer a variety of excursions all leaving from the hotel.
In terms of the overwater bungalows, it’s important to know that not all hotels in Moorea are created equal when it comes to their location! The Sofitel is situated in a perfect lagoon and the water is so clear and blue that it’s almost white. It’s truly magical – you can swim straight out from your overwater bungalow into perfect, shallow water. Some hotels on the island are not so lucky, with the deep, darker blue waters which doesn’t quite give you the same magical feeling.
It was also a great location in terms of what you are looking at in the distance. You are facing the island of Tahiti so at night, the lights in the distance sparkle and it’s really very beautiful.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4.5/5
The lobby itself is very simple and when we arrived we were escorted to the seating area to complete our check in. We did arrive early so we did not expect to get our room so soon. The check in process itself was lovely- we were handed cold towels, juice and flower necklaces as a welcome. During check in, they provide you with a printed list of available activities, restaurants and opening times of the available offerings at the hotel. Our room was ready and we were escorted via golf cart by a friendly bellman to our overwater hut shortly after arriving.
We were in a Luxury Overwater Bungalow and the only thing I can say is WOW…absolutely incredible. The bungalow was spacious, updated, bright and airy. The Luxury Overwater Bungalows have a full wall of windows that face outward and a glass-bottom floor in the seating area to watch the fish swim by. I was immediately blown away at how bright and airy the room felt. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it blew my mind.
In the room, there are two comfortable chairs facing the exterior, a lush and massive king bed with a beautiful (and functional) moquito net (we had the doors open the whole time so it helps to keep the mosquitos at bay). There’s also a desk in case you feel the need to work…which…we obviously did not (haha).
There is a large closet that was more than enough space for our luggage and behind the room is the bathroom. The bathroom was one of my favorite parts of the bungalow. It’s huge! There is a beautiful shower with glass doors that you can open up to the outside. There is a privacy screen behind the glass doors but if you look up you can see the mountains from your shower. They provide an immense amount of amenities in the bathroom included Hermes products, shower caps, dental kits and anything else you could possibly need. The robes and towels were plush and our towels were always overstocked, which we love.
Something we found interesting during our hotel stays in Moorea was that most hotels did not supply pool towels in the bungalows…which is weird because the first thing we did was jump into the ocean from our overwater bungalow. You had to go get a towel from the towel cart near the pool…which is annoying. However, the Sofitel was the only hotel that actually put towels in our room, so that was amazing. It’s a small thing but it makes a big difference.
Lastly, the outdoor patio was to die for. There are two sun loungers outside on the upper level and an outdoor shower on the lower level. The outdoor shower was so nice after a dip in the ocean.
Our view was lovely- we looked directly onto the Superior Overwater bungalows and out towards Tahiti island. For those interested, the Superior Overwater bungalows looked great as well (we did not see the interior), but personally, I’d splurge for the Luxury ones to get that great airy-ness of the full wall of windows and the extra outdoor space.
Overall, the room was a definitely 5 out of 5. The amenities, fully stocked minibar (all beverages were free) and the luxurious, modern feel were absolutely perfect.
Everything you need, you can find at the Sofitel. They have a full dive center and activity center that offers a range of excursions or on-property activities if you don’t want to leave. They also have free snorkel gear which is AMAZING when you step out into the crystal clear water and start swimming around the coral. We did a two-tank dive through Sofitel and the crew was knowledgable and accommodating. There were 4 of us and we wanted to come back between the two dives to have breakfast and they were totally ok with that – great service!
There is a gym and as much as I said I would go work out during my stay…that never happened. Sorry, I was too preoccupied exploring the coral with my free snorkel :). It did look totally adequate for what you need from a gym.
There is a beautiful spa. While we did not have the pleasure of checking it out on this trip, it does look amazing and peaceful. Considering how incredible the rest of their service was, I can imagine it’s a spectacular experience.
There are certainly enough options in terms of restaurants. There is a gorgeous bar called Vue with ample outdoor seating and a great menu of cocktails and snacks. There are also two restaurants that I’ll discuss in the next section below.
In the event of rain or if you simply don’t want to walk, it was super easy to call the front desk and request a golf cart to take you wherever you need to go.
All in all, the facilities were so great that we didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. If you did want to try a different restaurant or leave the property, the restaurants on the island will do free pickups at the hotels so you can arrange that through the concierge.
We had dinner at both K and Pure. While Pure was delicious, K was just unbeatable. It may have been the best meal I’ve ever had actually. This is due to the food, but also the amazing service. We had a bit of a surprise when we arrived as the dinner had been pre-arranged for us. We arrived and the decor and vibe were just soooo romantic. The restaurant is situated in the sand in a gorgeous, massive pagoda. There are candles everywhere and it just made it so beautiful. Pedro was definitely the standout waiter here, but all the staff were truly amazing. They served us a 6-course meal complete with foie gras, caviar and some of the best seafood I’ve had in my life. The wine pairing was perfect and every dish was absolutely exquisite.
The breakfast buffet in the morning was not to be missed. It’s elegant and has an immense selection of fruits, grains, juices and hot items. The omelette station is great and you can request pretty much anything from the chef. We started each morning with a french press and way too much food.
They do offer room service as well for any meal and you can even get breakfast delivered to your room via outrigger canoe ($$). We did not indulge in it this time due to the the weather in the morning but will definitely try it next time :).
Above all else, the service really stood out at the Sofitel. Everyone was kind, helpful and genuine. Housekeeping always did an excellent job both cleaning the room in the morning and providing a subtle turndown service in the evenings, making it so cozy to jump into a perfectly made bed at night. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff here even down to the dive center letting us come back for breakfast between dives. The staff at K were topnotch, beating the service at even the most highly rated restaurants in San Francisco.
All in all, the Sofitel is a stunning property in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The green mountain behind it, the crystal clear and blue water under your bungalow and the excellent service made for a beautiful, relaxing two days. The location is excellent, close to the ferry and the island’s main attractions and the option to do excursions directly from the hotel’s activity center makes you feel like there is nothing you can’t explore here. This property definitely gets the stamp of approval from us!
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Accor Hotels on a media stay. Please know the opinions expressed are all our own and may not reflect the hotel’s own views.