I spent two nights here in early January. I should have read the reviews better. I chose Vai Moana because I thought it offered rustic Tahitian simplicity. Wrong. I think a better word would be 'cheap & nasty', or to be kind a Moorean Fawlty Towers.
I was in the middle of travelling around Polynesia for 2 months, & have extensively travelled in Polynesia (Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands) the past 20 years, so am not a newie at this.
I asked for a beachfront fare & this was given to me. The bed was OK (but pillows low & hard & old) & the room clean-ish. Lots of hibiscus as a welcome greeting on the bed & in the bathroom. However, the bar fridge in the room I had to wrestle with to open each time, & it never made successful ice. The curtains seemed to have been converted from someone's bedding & didn't meet in the middle (the bed was visible for anyone walking outside along the beachfront), The shower & toilet areas were clean with clean towels. Being mid-summer & hot, I investigated sleeping in the loft area, but the ceiling fan didn't work, so abandoned that idea.
As I was travelling solo & not knowing the area, I had to close the sliding glass door at night, which prevented any of the lovely sea-breeze entering the room. For security I also used the other curtains in the room, rendering the room hot. The only ventilation was a slightly odd floor-standing fan device, which didn't provide much breeze. It is sad the owners don't think of adding a breeze-friendly security door to the front of the fares, as the property is beach-front. (I didn't expect air-con, so that wasn't an issue.)
I arrived on the bus from the ferry just after midday, & was pleasantly greeted by a young man who showed me to the room, & then left me. No offer of water or other cold drink (although it was a stinking hot day), no mention of lunch or other meal times. No compendium in the room for information. Thankfully I had some bottled water with me (tap water is OK here too) & some tinned sardines & biscuits for lunch, & being tired, settled for an afternoon nap (sea-breezes).
When I woke later, I went & had a cold drink in the bar. The owner - Serge - introduced himself proudly as 'le patron'. He was a very well-presented, well-mannered Frenchman. I asked about dinner, but he said they were closed that night as it was a quiet time (early January is a very quiet time in French Polynesia), but I could eat next door at the Hibiscus Hotel, being close, which I did, had a pizza, which was very good (more on the Hibiscus below).
Back to Fare Vai Maoana : I was told breakfast was at 8.00. Being an early riser, I was there & hungry, but the waitress didn't really appear till about 8.30. She served me an enormous plate of fruit & coffee, & set the table with butter & cheap jam, but no baguette. About half-an-hour later she reappeared & gave me several slices of soggy baguette - & this was first thing in the morning!! (ie. the bread should be fresh from the bakery & crispy).
On my return to Papeetee, I was to catch the Moorea-Papeete ferry at 8am, necessitating me catching the 6am bus from Hauru. Although there was no chance of their breakfast service starting at 6am, Serge the proud patron didn't offer an electric jug or anything I could have made an early cuppa, let alone an offer to put out some fruit or bread. I think I was so disillusioned with them by that stage, I didn't ask, but nothing was offered when I settled my bill that evening. Nothing too unusual with the bill, but I had a couple of chardonnays in the afternoons - I noticed on the bill they were CFP 800 each. I had been travelling in French Polynesia for a month, and a decent chard was usually about CFP 400. There were bottles in the local supermarket for CFP1400. Perhaps it was a superior vintage, I didn't notice, but it seemed pricey to me.
The property is beach-front - you can walk down & snorkel right off the beach in front, & it's a beautiful location.
However, the whole property seemed to be a once-proud but now-decayed situation. The second night I enquired about dinner (as many of the other restaurants in the area were closed due to New Year) but again, no cooking 'as it was quiet'. I went to Les Tipaniers that night & had a delightful meal. There was a local dance troupe practising to one side of the Vai Moana resturant one afternoon who were to perform on Thursday (this was Tuesday/2nd night) so perhaps they make their money on Thursdays. Who knows?
On a brighter note, when I went to Hibiscus Hotel (which is right next to the Fare Vai Moana) for dinner, & walking through their grounds to get to the restaurant, I noted a few happy people enjoying a wine & some food on their verandahs. The rooms looked very nice at night. There was yummy food, a diverse menu, & quite a few locals eating there. There was also a decent-sized very clean pool, & a couple of families with young kids playing there.
Again, when I went to Les Tipaniers the next evening, although a much bigger property (quite a lot of people & activity) , the rooms looked nice at night, & the service & food was great, even though I wasn't staying there.
So, those are two places I could recommend having a look at, but definitely not Fare Vai Moana. You won't pay much more for either of them, but I think you might have a far more pleasant time.
The thing that most annoyed me was that Serge Le Patron would appear late morning very well washed & coiffed, & yet there were so many things wrong with his property. One would thought he might be pulling out his finger (in Australian vernacular) to improve the situation.
I understand quite an amount of French too, & the French reviews on this property are pretty awful too.
- Also Known As:
- Fare Vaimoana Moorea