Vacations can be greatly enhanced by the accommodations one chooses; or they can be ruined. On my recent
trip to the Cook Islands, I took a chance with a resort I knew nothing about, The Rarotongan Resort and Spa.
Although the rest of my travels tend to be far more rugged, once a year I like to treat myself to a nice, pampered
tropical vacation and in doing so, I appropriately raise my accommodation standards. So, I am happy to report
that nearly everything at the Rarotongan was up to par. The rooms were wonderful, had functioning air
conditioning (especially important in the South Pacific), friendly staff, and a supremely beautiful, isolated location
next to a marine preserve. Most importantly, the Beachfront Suites were indeed beach-front – only 30 yards
of virgin sand separated us from the azure blue ocean.
But alas, there is trouble in paradise. The resort definitely took advantage of its isolated location and
captive clientele to produce some of the most expensive and horrible food I’ve ever consumed at resort. The
meals reminded me of Eastern Europe in the early 1990s but at London prices. Very disappointing. After a
leisurely morning of lying out on the beach, it would have been so nice to indulge in a tasty lunch in the convenient
beachfront café, but this simply wasn’t possible. Potato wedges were the only palatable item and
those got very boring very quickly. Oh, and I’ve got to also point out that the wait staff certainly took
the term “wait” to heart while serving. I know things operate on “island time” but
waiting an average of 30 minutes for mixed drinks—that were usually melted by the time they arrived—was
simply asking too much.
Despite the above mentioned problems, however, I would still stay at the Rarotongan if I were to return to the Cook
Islands—they were indeed some of the best accommodations we came across. I’d certainly rent a scooter
to have handy, however, for every time I got hungry.