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Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Seattle, Washington
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Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

to Tahiti / Moorea / Bora Bora... :)

I've been to many places - several times to Hawaii, European Bavaria and Switzerland trips, Las Vegas on NYE, but my first trip to French Polinesia is the most expensive by far.

I also an active traveler -I know what I'm looking for and always create itinerary and book everything myself - this is the first time I had to use agent - because it's too far and I wouldn't be able to plan all transfers, an I just want some sort of confirmation that the price I've got is sane (already paid 40% of the costs :().

I've booked 9 nights trip from LAX

1 night in IC Tahiti Resort (Deluxe) + Breakfast

3 nights in IC Moorea (beach bungalow) + breakfast

5 nights in IC Le Moana Bora Bora ( OWB Jr Horizon view) + breakfast + dinner

for about 4100 per person (2 people) first half of Nov 2011.

All transfers are supposed to be included.

I did some research on my own at expedia, and looked at the different packages listed at NUI airline site and bunch of other sites, worked with one agency, but eventually ended up by booking with Costco, because for the type of accommodations I was looking for their pricing was slightly better and/or provided more perks, e.g. like better room category and dinner.

Please tell me the price is reasonable, so I can stop checking all other links people post here :) I was told I got a great rate on airfare, IC combo rate, and one night free at Bora Bora (I guess it's stay 4 get 1), but still it's the most expensive flight I've ever taken and most expensive $$/per night ratio.

I also didn't plan to have dinner included at Bora Bora, but it was in the package. The reason I choose IC at Bora Bora is because of proximity to the local restaurants, but now seems like I won't need to use them that much.

I also see people complain about food selection in some hotels, so I'm wondering if I can have dinner at sister IC Thalasso, just to increase the variety?

Also what dinner included means? Can I show up for dinner any time or is it some assigned time at the particular restaurants?

I also would like to contact the hotel asking to reserve a specific bungalows - from the pictures I see, and by reading some reviews, seems like not all bungalows in IC Le Moana have mountain views and I'd like to have both water and mountain views. Can anybody recommend good suite # to request or give a link to resort map?

Thanks,

Anna

Cleveland, Ohio
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1. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

My wife and I just came back in Nov,2010 through the same hotels. Our price is a little lower with some very good promotion during the time. But I heard the Costco has the best price.

Since you stay in all IC proporties, I recommended you join the IC Ambassador program. For US$200, you get free room upgrade for all the hotel, free bottle of water everyday, welcoming fruit basket, and Late check out. Upgread from Beach bungulow to OWB in Moorea for one night will worth the US$200 cost.

In BB, you can eat at both Le Moana and the sister resort Thalasso for your meal plan. you can use both resort facility. There is a 15 min boat transfer about 10 times a day. The breakfast buffet is better in Thalasso. We did it twice. I heard the dinner is better too in Thalasso.

If you need more help, feel free to write me a PM

Seattle, Washington
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534 posts
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2. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Thank you very much for reply!

I've learned about Ambassador after I booked the trip, so probably I could save on a trip a bit if I book lower category in Bora Bora and upgrade it with Ambassador program - but I suppose upgrade is a subject to availability, so maybe I did the right thing to secure OWB.

When did you book your package? I'm not sure I explored all options before going with Costco, and it's very hard to monetize some offers like included dinner.

I still have 2 days (1.5 exactly :) ) to cancel.

My understanding that if I go with Ambassador I have to book hotel directly on IC site, then I'll have to book all flight and connections and I didn't find a way on how let's say to book all flights individually.

If I find a way on how to book all flights and water transfers.

If I decide to cancel maybe I would split my stay 4 and 4 between Moorea and Bora Bora (assuming there will be free Bora Bora night in that case - not sure if it's 3+1 or 4+1 right now) - people recommend jet ski and atv tour split over two days, then one day for arrival, and early departure - no relaxing day and just walking around at Moorea :( and maybe I'd go with beach suite in Le Moana hoping for free upgrade if needed.

But that's if I would cancel...

Los Angeles, CA
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3. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

I think you got a good price, considering the dinners included and the Horizon OWB in Bora Bora. I had the same hotels for 8 nights (no 1 night in Tahiti) and I paid about the same, but for a garden bungalow on Moorea and Lagoon OWB on Bora Bora. I purchased the Ambassador program well after my booking, and when I showed up at the hotel with the card, they instantly upgraded me. Let your Costco agent put in a note in the reservation that you are an Ambassador, the hotel will pre arrange your upgrades. We were upgraded from a garden to OWB on Moorea and from a Lagoon OWB to Horizon on Bora Bora. Sure the upgrades are not guaranteed, but IC will do its best.

Booking on your own vs agent. You don't need to book directly with the hotel to use the Ambassador benefits, but you do if you want to use the 1 weekend night free voucher. You can book just the two weekend nights with the hotel and book the remainder with Costco. Then you may lose out on specials like 3+1 or 4+1. For me, personally, I joined the Ambassador program two weeks before departing, and saved the weekend night voucher for a future trip. It's good for 1 year, so we're going to use it for a 1 year anniversary weekend trip.

As far as the split of time, 4+4 is better if you want to do more activities. You can do most everything on Moorea in 3 days, albeit a little rushed. And your OWB on Bora Bora will be a perfect place to lounge and let time pass by if you're looking forward to just relaxing.

Edited: 13 January 2011, 17:58
Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

I did a little bit more research on room types trying to decide if I better get the IC Ambassador and rebook, and I don't see a good combination.

IC Moorea upgrades

Beech --> Garden: my current reservation is Beach, and the next category is Garden for some reason, so upgrade doesn't make sense to me

Lanai --> Beach: Variation #1: should be cheaper if I rebook, but don't want to risk to end up in Lanai

Garden --> OWB: Variation #2: Garden is more expensive than Beach, and if upgrade won't be available I won't get the ocean view and will end up in more expensive room than current booking.

IC Le Moana Bora Bora upgrades

OWB Horizon view: current reservation

OWB Lagoon --> OWB Horizon: Variation #1: the price difference is not that significant to have the risk of not having a horizon view

Beach --> OWB Lagoon: Variation #2: if I rebook the price will be cheaper, but I'm not sure I'd prefer the OWB Lagoon to the beach location (heard some people actually preffered Beach to OWB in Le Moana), and 2 category upgrade from Beach to Horizon would be an exception, not sure they'll let it.

Sigh... That's so overwelming trying to optimize the trip for cost/satisfaction :) Maybe I should just relax and stop reseraching further :)

Cleveland, Ohio
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5. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Second with eskwl, I booked the trip first and then join the IC ambassador program. The hotel was able to upgrade us without problem. Since you traveling in Nov and it is their off season; I don’t see any problem for room upgrade.

I think TA is a must; they can get the pay 3 + 1 and full dinner plan, etc.

The weather in late Nov is OK, it rain about ½ - 1 hour everyday (4 days) in Moorea, but never affect our activities. It was sunny everyday in BB (5 days) but the last afternoon has a ½ hour rain.

I think 3 days are bit short in Moorea, if I can, I will do 4/4 split. Hope this help

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

ekswl, thanks for sharing the information!

Seems like cancelling and rebooking can be a hassle with more risk and not that much money in return.

I might still apply for Ambassador card, btw $200 is a one time fee, or do they charge any annual fees as well?

May be I should try to plan wisely my three days in Moorea - arriving around 1:25 pm on catamaran from Papeete) and two full days, and then relax in Bora Bora.

I really like the option of being able to walk from the Le Moana and take a shuttle boat to Thalasso.

OK, I think I feel better now :), and just need to figure out the preffered bungalow ## for OWB Horizon to get most of the mountain views as well.

I've heard people enjoyed #27 and #23, too bad I can't see the map with numbers, or if the pictures taken from the bungalow had the number :)

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Ok, I'll try to call Costco Travel and ask if we can split 4 + 4 instead of 3 + 5.

Theoretically they can keep the same reservation and just change interisland flight and split between the hotels.

Maybe I can try to book Lanai on IC Moorea hoping for upgrade to Beach, and I have to check if that free night on Bora Bora still applies.

Probably I'll leave OWB Horizon, or may be switch to Lagoon hoping for upgrade and counting on low season.

Los Angeles, CA
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8. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Ambassador program is $200 for one year. You can choose to renew after one year. Well worth it if you are a regular Intercontinental Hotel Group visitor...

Room types in IC Moorea. The category is Lanai -> Garden -> Beach -> OWB. If you are ok with not having the OWB on Moorea, I would book a Garden room. Garden bungalows there are really lovely even if you don't get an upgrade. For some reason I was bumped from Garden to OWB, but I didn't really care for the OWB there. You can read my review on IC Moorea by clicking my name then reviews.

Le Moana OWB. So it's Lagoon -> Horizon -> then top category is White Villas at the very ends of the pontoons. For me, that's too much walking but a recent review said it was very private and nice! As Shully often advises here, it's difficult to get a specific bungalow # requests fulfilled, but let your agent put in a request for what type of view you want. Basically if you get a bungalow on the east pontoon facing North, you'll have an unobstructed view of Mount Otemanu. You can google Map of Le Moana bungalows and the maps come up in image results, but no numbers.

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Thanks a lot for reply and suggestion on bungalow location with mountain views!

Based on prices on Expedia Garden in IC Moorea is more expensive than Beach, and unfortunately I can't see a category in upgrade order on IC web site, so need to clarify that for sure.

If you really had a Garden maybe the next upgrade was OWB indeed.

These are the prices from Expedia - just for reference on room categories

1 King Bed Lanai

Includes: Breakfast Buffet $318

1 King Bed Beach Bungalow

Includes: Breakfast Buffet $457

1 King Bed Garden Bungalow

Includes: Breakfast Buffet $549

1 King Bed Overwater Bungalow

Includes: Breakfast Buffet $705

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Need to find a piece of mind after booking my first vacation

Hi seaagal,

I think Expedia either has a really good deal on the Beach bungalows over the Garden right now, or that is an error. ekswl is correct, the order of upgrade is Lanai - Garden - Beach - OWB.

I also recently stayed at the Intercontinental Moorea in an OWB - it was nice, but I would probably do Beach or Garden if I stay there again. Read my review for specific reasons, including a picture that helps explain why.

Don't rule out a Garden bungalow because you think it won't have a lagoon view - many of the Garden bungalows at IC Moorea are placed directly behind the Beach bungalows, with a clear view of the water - plus you get the plunge pool. At another resort on a different island I also had a great view of the lagoon from my Garden bungalow.