Escape Showcase: Rarotonga

Think Rarotonga and you think palm trees, white sand and coconut cocktails. 

Right, now think The Feelers, Jake the Ukelele player who hasn’t missed serenading a flight in 25 years and a wedding planner with over 200 weddings a year on his books. This was the Rarotonga we discovered. 

Our ten day island bliss, escape was influenced by Cyclone Nisha who ever so slightly brushed against the Cook Islands on the night of our arrival. 

However, even a gentle brushing by a cyclone results in some feisty wind and rain for a few days which encouraged us to explore beyond the world renowned soft sands and blue lagoons.

We had arrived at The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa at the start of a special week – the opening of their brand new adults only resort The Sanctuary. 

David Armstrong, the Resort Manager for this new exclusive section of The Rarotongan made us feel right at home as he took us through the ins and outs of the entire resort and his new baby, The Sanctuary.

The Rarotongan is the largest resort on the island. Twelve years ago it was government owned and offered $30 a night backpacker beds. That was until businessman Tata Crocombe, a bit of a local legend on the island, came along. The Resort now boasts 160 rooms that range from Garden Rooms to Deluxe Beachside Suites to a luxury three bedroom villa with private pool further down the road, perfect for those large family holidays. 

There are no signs of slowing down either.  David showed us around the various developments that were in progress. These included a Banana Club for the under four’s that will have a qualified nurse, and coffee café for Mums, and a Mocktail bar to be added to their already hugely popular Moko’s Kids Club. 

We loved the variety and vibrancy of the resort, yet being the kind of couple who think a cat is a big commitment let alone a child, we were excited about the opening of their latest addition – The Sanctuary, a 48 room adults only resort. 

Sanctuary guests have their own brand new pool with swim up bar (the only one at a high end resort in the Cook Islands), all beachfront suite rooms and their own restaurant set in a breezy atrium with sea and pool views. 

In addition to this guests have access to all the other facilities of the Rarotongan and can choose which restaurant they eat in (needless to say we chose the child free breakfast option!)

David proudly welcomed us to breakfast on their first official opening morning. He told us how with Sanctuary his staff would be able to get know individual guests and that the overall approach would be of personal and attentive service. 

For instance in the main resort, guests get their own hot drinks at breakfast, at Sanctuary the staff came around to our table and offered us tea or coffee so that they could have that morning chat with each guest. Just a small thing; but a noticeable one.

What else did we love about Sanctuary? The new pool is bliss –surrounded by sand (probably an impossibility on the child side of the resort!) and a well designed wall of tropical plants to keep out the wind. Funky music wafts out of the swim up bar and a quietly friendly waiter does the rounds every now and then so you don’t even have get up to get your own drink.

Swim up bars do have their quirks though - the girlfriend was most amused as she sat sipping her cocktail while a fellow guest we had met the night before was weaving in and out of the submerged barstools as part of an introductory scuba lesson. 

Day one, with us seeing more rain than sunshine there was only one place to be, Spa Polynesia. The Rarotongan’s luxury spa is located in Villa Tiare Taporo just over the road from the main resort. 

The large and airy villa has been transformed into a relaxing day spa with treatment rooms and its own private pool and outdoor tub to relax in after your indulgences.

For her, a 45 minute ‘Tama’ Coconut Crème Body Scrub and for myself an ‘Akari’ Coconut Sugar Body Rub followed by a one hour ‘Mirimiri’ Aromatherapy Full Body Massage for both of us. 

The pressure of my massage was in that perfect window of firm yet relaxing meanwhile the girlfriend was most impressed with the ‘delicious’ smell of the scrubs.

There was something about the rain softly falling outside, the warm tropical air and the gently rotating ceiling fans that added to our spa escape and told us we had well and truly arrived in the tropics.

Cyclone Nisha, do your worst. Day One so far = bliss.

Next week: getting off the sun lounger and onto the scooter. Time to explore this island. 


The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa

Spa Polynesia at The Rarotonga

Did you know?

- The Feelers filmed their latest music video Blue Skies in Rarotonga. They used the Rarotongan’s large dining room as their recording studio. As a thank you to the resort who had looked after them so fabulously they performed an impromptu concert for all the resorts guests.

- They also took quite a liking to The Island Girl, a giant blue cocktail for two. You gotta try one!

- You can not buy land in Rarotonga, it is all owned by the five tribes. The chief allocates land to the families in their tribe.

- One of those tribes is currently chiefless as the last chief had six wives who all have sons so there is much debate over who is the next chief

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  • Jono says
    I went to a family wedding at the Raratongan back in 2003 and it was fantastic. Great to see that they are still developing the resort. How they catered for our children was amazing including evening babysitting and the Kids Club. I would highly recommend a visit
  • I'm going there in May for my honeymoon. Looks like a fantastic place and I can't wait. My 2nd overseas trip ever and it's to paradise - Whoo Hoo!!
  • Ben says
    I'm going there for my honeymoon in May. Looking forward to it even more now.
  • Han says
    Never really wanted to go but this post has me convinced that will be my next holiday.
  • Phoenix says
    The kids are not all that bad - My wife and I had a few laughs watching them doing the crab races on our honeymoon during a meal at the restaurant. The MC/Presenter was a crack up and the NZ crab smoked the Ozzie crab which was a plus. Hopefully those are the only crabs people see if they stay in Rarotonga!
  • TTT says
    My sister and brother in-law went and they loved it. Not the nightlife for the young revellers but good for families and older couples. A few bottles of ABSOLUT Vodka would make the trip even better.
  • Jackson says
    With the coming cooler weather, the thought of a nice tropical island is looking even more appealing than ever. Given that most tourists head for Fiji or Samoa, Rarotonga sounds like the perfect paradise.
  • Millie says
    WOW WOW WOW!!! Now there's something to aim for - maybe that can be the carrot I will dangle in front of my computer to remind me why i'm sitting in my office cubicle staring at a computer earn the money that will get me to Raro!!
  • Bruce says
    I totally agree with everything that's been said, I have been there 9 times in the last 18 to 20 years for weddings, birthdays, family getaways and even a good old boys trip. All have been fantastic trips without exception and we plan to do a family and friends trip next winter as well.
    In my experience the best times to go May through to September, thus missing out on the chance of a cyclone popping through the island.
    I could go on and on so just trust me, it's a great place to go and relax

  • CocoJoe says
    I was born and raised in Rarotonga. Left for NZ when I was 19yrs old back in 1995. Reading your article encourages and reminds my soul to listen to my heart and head home to Paradise!!! Thanks.

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