We stayed 10 days - a couple with an adult daughter. The location is the best. The deck is so raised that from your lounger or lunching around the deck table, all you see is the turquoise lagoon. And who commented that you cannot see sunset - we have video of the most beautiful sunset with us supping bubbly. If heaven is like this, bring it on. We snorkeled and kayaked, and we film the lagoon fish - over 55 species on film so far. The house is great, and that main bedroom with its huge picture windows - we never wanted to leave. This was early November, and there was rarely anyone else visible on the beach. It's as if the island is yours. We'll be back.
Main Islander is one of four properties on Rarotonga owned by Tia and Geoff Bergin, dba Beach Island Holidays. We stayed at Main Islander in ’03 and experienced no problems with the Bergins. A second visit was planned for July 6 – July 18/15 and in October ’14 we inquired by e-mail about availability. Tia responded in an e-mail that the dates were available and as before, a 50% deposit was required. The rate of $295 NZ dollars a night was offered as a special rate for returning guests. A credit card number for the deposit was sent in two e-mails. Please note that the Bergins charge back to the customer the credit card company’s commission on all transactions. In VISA’s case this is about 2.1%. We never received a receipt or even an acknowledgement for the deposit. We learned that the deposit had been processed from a credit card statement. Some appreciation for our business would have been nice but as we had stayed there before, we were not overly concerned.
Forward to mid-June of this year. We sent an e-mail detailing our arrival date, time and flight number as airport pick-up and drop-off is included in the rate. No e-mail response for a week. A voice message to the office elicited no response. Finally, I was able to contact Mr. Bergin on his mobile. He claimed no knowledge of the reservation but took our e-mail address and promised to follow up. Please note that phone service to Rarotonga from Canada is expensive and intermittent. He sent an e-mail on June 19 confirming our reservation for Main Islander, arriving July 6 and departing July 18. On July 2 we had a surprise as a VISA charge for the remaining 50% went through. This was different than ’03 when we settled up at the end of our stay. Without advising us and without setting foot on the island, the Bergins had taken payment for our entire stay in advance.
We arrived on Rarotonga Monday, July 6 and Mr. Bergin was not there to pick us up. Complaining that the flight arrived early (it was actually late) he kept us waiting for half an hour. No apology. On the way to what we thought was Main Islander, he informed us that Main Islander was double booked and that we would have to stay elsewhere for at least three days. No explanation, no apology. He dropped us off at a house in a remote area of the island. It was not on a beachfront and the closets had no racks or hangers for clothes. Before leaving, he told us that he would be in touch later in the day with more information. At this point, we were hesitant to take Mr. Bergin at his word because of his negative attitude and his previous reservation confirmation was false. We felt that we were being strung along and did not want to spend at least three days (25%) of our vacation messing around with uncertain accommodation.
Two phone inquiries and a quick visit secured alternative accommodation (same morning as we arrived) on the same lagoon as Main Islander. It was a lovely self-contained suite, right on the beach and at less than half the cost of Main Islander. We did not have to pay a cent until checkout. Once we checked in I called Mr. Bergin on his mobile. I informed him that we were disappointed in being misled, had found another place to stay and that we expected a full refund of all charges. I also asked him to confirm this by an e-mail. Without argument, he agreed.
Credit charges from Rarotonga take two to three days to appear on our VISA account. By Friday, no refund, no e-mail. Now we were deciding whether to go to the police or Cook Islands Tourism. A local contact suggested we visit the tourism office first. The staff was friendly and helpful but had some bad news. The Bergins’ business is not accredited with Cook Islands Tourism and they were limited in what they could do. We filled out a complaint form, they told us that they would contact the business and that we would hear back the following week. By the following Wednesday, no refund had appeared on the VISA account and we had not heard from the tourism office. So, back we went. While we waited, a staff member was able to reach Mr. Bergin on his mobile. Once again, his story had changed. We were to receive a refund but there was going to be a cancellation charge of three nights, $885 NZ dollars plus VISA commission. This was a complete contradiction of what Mr. Bergin had agreed on July 6. At no time were we advised of cancellation charges. Further, how could they be in effect when it was the Bergins who had broken the reservation confirmation?
We have received the refund. But, in the end, without spending a minute at Main Islander, our unfortunate experience in dealing with these people cost us $1030.00 Cdn dollars. I’ll leave it to the reader to give a name to what happened to us.
WOW, what a fantastic place to stay! Our family of 4 stayed here for 15 nights and found the house to be more than adequate with plenty of room and all the facilities and equipment we needed. The beds were very comfy, use of Kayaks and loads of outdoor furniture. The house itself is simple and not super flash but the position of the house on the beach is literally the best on the island. The lagoon out the front is crystal clear with loads to see and safe for kids (though you should always wear reef shoes anywhere in Rarotonga). Rarotonga is one of our favourite holiday destinations simply because it is so laid back and running on ‘island time’ helps us to relax and unwind. We have stayed at resorts in the past but after hiring this house we wouldn’t do it any other way. We had a few small requests and Geoff was on to them quickly and without hassle – the owners are great to deal with and nothing was a problem. We also highly recommend Vaima Bar & Restaurant and Bamboo Jacks for amazing food and clean premises.
We will definitely be back to Main Islander!
Extremely beautiful location. You have the road that goes around the island directly behind the Villa. But in front you have a HUGGGGGEEEE deck, grass area, and then beach. Lovely place to swim as there is hardly any coral and you can swim even when it's low tide. There is a great piece of live coral if you walk out a little way and tonnes of fish in it! Great for feeding them. I went kayaking every day, absolutely loved it and the water was so clear you could see all the fish. I'd take the bread with me in the kayak. Despite it being mainly sand onshore I'd still recommend wearing reef shoes.
The deck is fantastic which tonnes of different furniture on it. And it is covered so you don't get the sun beating down on you. Quite a few people walk past on the beach and they can see directly into the deck and the main bedroom. Some of those lacey type curtains would help with this, like the ones they have in the living room so people can't see directly in. Or tinting the glass.
The whole place is pretty bach-like. It's really spacious, almost too spacious! and the design and decorations reminded me of 1970s houses in New Zealand with the fake wood panelling on the walls. The decorations didn't really do it for me.
Only the bathroom and kitchen windows and the windows in the second bedroom had insect screens. All the other windows didn't. I think it would benefit from getting the living room windows screened. In saying that we didn't have too many mosquitos because we had the fans on which blowed them away. Speaking of fans, the fans are EXCELLENT! You can place them wherever you want and they can really blast the air out.
The kitchen is all very workable. The bathroom was simple but fine. Very clean.
There were lots of little bugs which would cover you when you are outside, particularly at dusk. They are all up and down that beach and if you walk at dusk you will literally be covered in them. They don't bite though which is a bonus!
We saw some beautiful sunsets from the place.
Close to wigmores supermarket which is an awesome place to get food.
We had a resident mouse in the accommodation which ate through some of my cereal packet. This is despite being absolutely anal with cleaning up after we ate. Would be good to get some mouse traps.
I would definitely stay here again just as it was such a great location for walking straight from your accommodation out to the beach. If you are happy with having accomodation which isn't the flashest, but is functional, and you love the beach and sitting outdoors then this place is for you.
I would have liked a specific time that we knew the cleaning lady would come. On a romantic holiday you don't want to be caught un-aware!
Will hopefully come back one day.
Walking into the house you are immediately impressed by the view through the bedroom. Floor to ceiling glass revels that from bed to beach to spectacular, idyllic swimming in lagoon is mere steps and that the beach has an almost private feel. The house is large, sprawling, like the beach pad you always wanted with a casual air but plenty of comfort. The property is located in the quietest part of Rarotonga, away from most of the 'tourist' activity which for us was an additional benefit. Wigmore's supermarket is just up the road and is the best food shopping on the island (especially for authentic fare which is prepared daily and displayed on tables by the checkouts). The house is also close to the fantastic Vaima restaurant with its dining on the beach and a neat bar that does takeaway pizzas.
While the house has a spectacular ambience and all conveniences we do suggest one thing - some form of cooling. Ceiling fans or an air-con unit would go a long way to bring down the all encompassing wall of heat that the house becomes on summer days. I assume it is better in other months as no one else has commented about this but for us, at times, the heat in the house was oppressive and noticeably hotter than outdoors at times. A small glitch really, we spent most of our time out on the covered deck relaxing and rolling into the pristine waters, snorkeling and cooling off. The house also comes with two kayaks and snorkeling gear.
We reckon this is the best spot on the island and surely must be one of the best accommodations available if you're keen to self cater (which is very easy). Likewise, Geoff, the owner, is lovely and helpful (and makes great smoothies/frappes at the Saturday markets in Avarau!), the house is serviced/cleaned every other day, and the mosquitos? Well, thats just part of any tropical locale - get the mozzie spray on, close some of the doors and get the mozzie plug in repellent working and we had little issue.