InterContinental Moorea (French Polynesia) Closes For Good

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Pacific Beachcomber, a French Polynesia based hotel group, has made a decision not to reopen one of their InterContinentals in the country.

InterContinental Moorea has closed its doors for good. Still, InterContinental hotels in Tahiti and Bora Bora (Thalasso & Lea Moana) will open once allowed by the government, as is the case with four other hotels operated by the same group.

You can access InterContinental Moorea’s website here.

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Here’s the announcement that the hotel has up on its website:

Permanent closure

INTERCONTINENTAL MOOREA RESORT & SPA

Dear guests and partners,

The global health and economic downturn resulting from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had an exceptionnally devastating impact on the travel and tourism industry. A significant income generating sector from many countries in the world including French Polynesia, the pandemic-induced crisis has left many countries who rely heavily on tourism revenue under considerable strain.

Due to the scale of disruption faced by the tourism in “Tahiti and her Islands” and unforeseeable market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret to announce that the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa will not be reopening after the mandated closure period concludes.

The permanent closure of the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa has been a very hard but carefully considered decision taken to preserve our other hotels within Pacific Beachcomber hotel group.

You may contact your preferred sales representative or our reservations department for assistance with the cancellation of your bookings at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa. Our reservations team is available to assist you by phone (+689 40 86 51 78) and by email (reservation.tahitiregion@ihg.com).

On behalf of the Pacific Beachcomber family, I would like to send our sincere gratitude to each and every one of you for your longstanding dedication and service throughout the years. We will be delighted to pursue our valuable partnership with our other Pacific Beachcomber properties and our teams in Tahiti and Bora Bora look forward to welcoming our common customers soon in the respect of both the required sanitary measures we have implemented and the Tahitian culture.

With our best regards.

Guillaume ÉPINETTE
Area General Manager

Here are the hotels owned by the group:

Three Maitai (must be their brand), four InterContinentals (now one less), and the infamous Brando.

French Polynesia

The problem with French Polynesia is that its tourism numbers haven’t recovered and are still lower than at the beginning of the century. The islands were very popular among the Japanese that never returned after their (Japan’s) financial issues.

The location and getting to French Polynesia is an issue. Air Tahiti Nui flies to Papeete from Tokyo, Auckland, and Paris via Los Angeles. Air France also serves the country via Los Angeles, as does United Airlines from San Francisco.

There was a new airline French Bee that begun service from Paris to Papeete via San Francisco. Then there are some infrequent regional flights such as LATAM’s once-weekly service to Santiago via Easter Island, which I have taken twice or thrice.

Here’s a video I took at the InterContinental Moorea:

Conclusion

French Polynesia never recovered from the previous travel slumps, and the islands have few abandoned hotels such as Hyatt and Sofitel in Tahiti (Hilton was converted to office/apartment building), and Novotel in Bora Bora. The Le Meridien is in the process of being rebranded to a Sofitel.

The fixed and operational costs to run a hotel in French Polynesia are very high, based on the discussions I have had with the hotel GMs during my stays. It won’t come as a surprise if other marginally profitable properties that would need refurbishments decide to close as a result of this Covid-19.

The InterContinental hotel in Tahiti, which most guests use as an overnight hotel when connecting in Papeete due to its convenient location very close to the airport, has gone through renovations lately. Their overwater villas are quite lovely, but the main building rooms are more Holiday Inn Plus-quality.

I just had a look, and I did stay at this specific InterContinental back in 2014 and also at the Hilton close by. Moorea is a much bigger island compared to Bora Bora and has more to do, but doesn’t have the same luxury vibe.

Pacific Beachcomber could always rebrand InterContinental Moorea under their Maitai-brand.

I like French Polynesia as a destination. It is more original and genuine compared to all the fake resorts in the man-made islands in the Maldives. The issue is that it is challenging to get to Papeete compared to Maldives, Seychelles, or even Mauritius.

I came across this area GM last time in Bali, where he was opening the Indigo hotel in Seminyak. When he was the GM of InterContinental Thalasso back in the day, I had few words with him when I had to leave for Le Moana due to internet connectivity issues.

It is unclear when French Polynesia reopens for international arrivals. I have a reservation at the St. Regis Bora Bora for five nights this coming September that is unlikely to take place, although difficult to see the country still being closed then.

The Brando is the former residence of Marlon Brando that is now one expensive hotel. I would love to stay there one day.

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