[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sheraton Moorea hotel: a new crisis ?

Will rocks fell on Sheraton Moorea hotel ?

A view from Rotui mountain

A project of an extension of overwater bungalows is encountering
the heavy opposition of local environnemental associations.

Will the voice of the population be heard ?

Read more about it Tell us your feelings

A peaceful meeting between representives of Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
and a federation of Moorea associations was held Saturday 10th of August 2002,
where were expressed the views of each sides.

Economic factors were presented, revealing that Sheraton Moorea hotel was loosing lots of money because of overbooking (eg bumping customers to other hotels and lawsuits) and refusing customers because of full occupation.

It also appeared that overwater bungalows were such a hit among tourists that creating 31 more overwater bungalows would turn into much better profits for Sheraton Moorea Hotel, as well as benefiting various building enterprises during the six months of heavy construction, and creating some more jobs for the local population.

Environmental projects were also mentionned by the Sheraton Moorea hotel, to participate to lagoon studies, fish reproduction, educational programs, cleaning campaigns, customers information, and donations to help the local associations...

Presidents of associations then expressed their dearest feelings toward the lagoon, source of life for Polynesians, and their concern of seeing millions of dollars modeling the landscape of a local population whose main scale is on a daily life base and who sustain itself a lot with the lagoon.

They stated that the lagoon, being of public domain, should not be used for investors that would keep them away from fishing sites and passages.

The position of the associations toward NO MORE OVERWATER BUNGALOWS IN MOOREA is backed up by a petition of 1 400 signatures among the 13 000 inhabitants of Moorea. The determination of the population was already proven by 3 months of day and night sitting around a dredger that was supposed to suck up the sand of the lagoon of Pihaena district to fuel the Sheraton Moorea's beach, destroying so a pawning site for fishes and disturbing local coral ecosystems.

They say Bora Bora, with so many hotels and overwater bungalows, is an ecological disaster that should not be followed in Moorea, which state of virginity is a major attraction for tourists, and that greed would eventually kill the hen of golden eggs.
Wishing not to have to engage in another tiring battle against the constructions of those overwater bungalows, the associations hope Sheraton Moorea will respect the will of the population, and effectively put in action the various measures toward protecting the lagoon it presented.

Your opinion is interesting !!!

Have you been to Bora Bora ? Moorea ? Do you plan on visiting ? Staying in Sheraton hotel ? Do you have some feelings toward this story ? Experiences ? Your opinion is important !

Click Here to send your concerned email simultaneously to each side.
( same as writing the following in the To: line of the email:
toa@pihaena.com ; sheraton@sheraton.com ; laurent.voivenel@sheraton.pf )

The associations : toa@pihaena.com
Sheraton Starwood : sheraton@sheraton.com
Sheraton Moorea Director: laurent.voivenel@sheraton.pf

Here is what some of you wrote :
My husband and I stayed in a deluxe beach bungalow at the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort in May 2002 and although we could afford to stay in an OTWB (Over The Water Bungalow) we DELIBERATELY did NOT stay in an OTWB because we strongly believe that OTWBs are very destructive to marine life, due to the destruction of the coral from the construction and also due to the careless guests who snorkel about the coral and sit, stand and touch the coral, thus killing it.
We PERSONALLY saw that almost all the coral around the OTWBs at the Sheraton Moorea were dead. We also saw that most of the guests in the OTWBs were Japanese couples and most of them seemed to have no concern or education about the fragility of the marine life and coral. We repeatedly saw Japanese tourists that were staying in the OTWBs touching the coral heads as they snorkeled around their OTWBs.
We think that ALL construction of OTWBs in French Polynesia should be banned PERMANENTLY. We also spent 5 nights at Pension Havaiki in Fakarava and 5 nights in Rangiroa in beach front fares and one can experience the beauty of the lagoon and marine life by staying in a beach front fare (bungalow) just as well as in an OTWB.
As someone who visited Bora Bora in 1986, I have no desire to ever return to Bora Bora because that once beautiful, pristine atoll has been destroyed by too many hotels and the proliferation of OTWBs.
Please do NOT build anymore OTWBs at the Sheraton Moorea. Do not ruin Moorea the way that Bora Bora has been ruined.

Jibralta and Gene
(Preferred Gold Card Member)

Ia Orana, My name is Ilene. I live in Lakeland, Florida USA. I have been in love with Polynesia ever since I can remember. As a child,I looked at books with pictures of the most beautiful sparkling blue water and I dreamed of the day that I would travel to this heaven on earth. I went to Raiatea to dive with the sharks in 1990. My dreams had come true. It was as beautful as I knew it would be. I did not want to leave. I always hoped that one day I would return and I did in 1999 with my husband and a group of inline skaters for the Moorea Blue Marathon festivities. We returned to Moorea again in 2000, and again in 2001. We spent a great amount of time snorkeling in the lagoon and diving. This year the sports event was set for March but was re-scheduled for November. My husband and I decided to go in March anyway. We went to Huhahine and had the most wonderful time. We snorkeled in the the crystal clear lagoon and marvelled at the number of fish life that we saw. We are planning on going to Tahiti Iti, where the skating event will be held, and then travelling to Moorea this November. We love the lagoon. It is full of life. It is the beauty that is Polynesia. My husband and I have been diving in the Cayman Islands and in the Florida Keys and off the coast of Florida. Development and over fishing has resulted in dives where few fish or turtles are seen. The corals are damaged. The water polluted. These were once beautiful like the way Moorea is now. Please let Polynesian people determine what happens in their own back yard. If it results in fewer tourists staying in luxury so be it. I wasn't born in Moorea or Tahiti but I love her with all my heart. She is the most beautiful place in the world.

Objet : Moorea Overwater Bungalows

Ia Orana

I don't understand why the lovely Sheraton needs more expensive overwater bungalows. What Moorea REALLY needs more mid-range lodging!

1. My clients are not wealthy, so I look for good values in paradise (French Polynesia). Moorea is difficult to find affordable lodging that is to American tastes.

2. Overwater bungalows seem to be built to deliberately block the view from otherwise great Beach bungalows.

3. In the Pacific Northwest we are concerned about the planet, so the impact overwater bungalow construction has on water clarity, coral reef condition, and sewage handling matters.

Maururu roa,

D. Paula

Objet : Moorea, the Sheraton and Overwater Bungalows

We just recently returned from our honeymoon at the Sheraton Moorea (stayed in an OTWB). It was the most incredible vacation experience either one of us have had (we have traveled extensively). Not only was the hotel amazing, but the staff who works there were equally as beautiful. Everyone we encountered seemed to truly enjoy their jobs and truly love the island. That attitude radiated night and day throughout the resort and thoughout most of Moorea.

Much of what made our stay over-the-top was the beautiful beach and the fabulous snorkeling right off our balcony.

I was amazed that there was no "safety" or "rules of the ocean" information given to us upon check in. And yet, there was scuba gear supplied in our room; again without any instructions or "rules of the ocean".

I completely understand the concerns of the environmental issues of the island (we also noticed the lack of coral right off our bungalow). And honestly, I also witnessed some "inappropriate" snorkeling behavior (i.e. touching coral, etc.). However, this behavior was not conducted out of maliciousness or concern for the fragility of the marine life and coral. Simply, they did not know.

I believe that EVERYONE (regardless of nationality) who visits Moorea appreciates the island's pure beauty and would do anything in their power to preserve it... if given the opportunity.

Another thing that made the Sheraton Moorea so amazing was that it wasn't too big. We visited the Beachcomber for a day and were VERY happy we were not staying there. Too many people. The staff appeared to be "acting the part of a Tahitian" and "put on smiles" only when appropriate. We were disgusted by the way the dolphins were kept in the small roped off areas to perform on command. Very gimmicky and too commercial. The hotel felt too "tourist-y". It felt like visiting one of the nicer hotels in Cancun. Compared to the Sheraton, the Beachcomber's overall environment/experience pales in comparison.

The Sheraton Moorea is the perfect combination of luxury mixed with the solidarity and natural beauty of the island and her people.

I hope Moorea and the Sheraton are able to find a way to compromise your business dealings without compromising the island's environmental issues or compromising what you have. True, construction will employ people; increasing the number of people who visit Moorea will increase the money spent on the island; your island and the people who live there are truly beautiful (today). Wherever you net out, please keep in mind: You (both the island of Moorea and the Sheraton) currently have a partnership that is very special and unique to only you. Of anywhere in the world, you have created the perfect place in which vacationers' dreams truly do come true.

Thank you, both Moorea and the Sheraton, for making our honeymoon so wonderful. It was an experience we will never forget.

Lauren and Chris
Sacramento, California - USA

My husband and I just returned from our second trip to Moorea (Feb 2003). On our first trip in 2000, we stayed in an OTWB at the Beachcomber, in fact we had a bungalow right next to the Dolphins. At that time, the Sheraton in Moorea was being built. Although we enjoyed ourselves at the Beachcomber, their coral was very young, so we decided to try the Horizon OTWB at the Sheraton. (Which, by the way, is significantly more expensive than the Beachcomber.) We were severely disappointed in the atmosphere at the Sheraton hotel. The quality of the room was very nice. The hotel grounds seems to be a bit immature with many of the plants and trees being small twigs. The quality of the snorkeling was very good. Although, I did see much of the coral that was near the bungalows damaged and dying. Being divers, my husband and I knew the rules of the ocean, which is basically, if you want to enjoy it in the future, don't touch anything with your hands, body, fins, etc. We witnessed many of the other guests not following these rules. We even witnessed one brave gentleman stand on a large piece of coral. Too bad it wasn't fire coral, and he would have thought twice the next time. I was also very suprised that at the time of checkin we were not told to respect the coral, or even of some of the dangers in the water (sea urchins, fire coral, lion fish, stone fish, etc.) At a minimum, I would have expected something in the rooms that had some "rules", but nothing existed. It isn't suprising that many of the guests did not have any idea that they were killing the coral every time they touched it.

We stayed at the Sheraton for 7 days. During that time, we spent as little time at the hotel as possible because of the atmosphere. You know the old saying "buying a house doesn't make it a home", well calling a hotel a Sheraton doesn't make it 5 star accommodations. We arrived in the early morning, so we tried out the breakfast buffet, having very fine memories of the high quality buffet at the Beachcomber. We were not impressed with the Sheraton Buffet in the least, and the fruit, which had previously been one of our favorites, wasn't even fully ripe. I've found better fruit in Minnesota. At a price tag for the buffet of over $50 for the two of us, I expected much more. During our stay, the staff, especially the waiters/waitresses, looked like they hated to come to work and couldn't wait until the end of their shift. They hardly smiled at us, hardly said hello when they came to the table, and hardly said Thank You when we paid the bill. I suspect that the impending issues with Iraq and the disagreements the US is currently having with France are putting a strain on them having to be nice to American Tourists. The native polynesian staff seemed to be much friendlier, but even they didn't even appear to be happy. We tried multiple times to go sit at the hotel bar in the evenings. There are 2 of them, but the one out on the dock by the OTWB was never open. Each of the times we tried to go to the bar, there was maybe one other couple there. Occasionally, there was evening entertainment, but most of it was not what I would call traditional polynesian music. I didn't goto the Polynesian islands to listen to someone sing French songs on an electric keyboard. Even with the lack of clientele, it took over 15 minutes to get even a beer. And a mixed drink took longer, because half of the time the bar wasn't stocked with the appropriate ingredients.

In my opinion, I don't believe that the Sheraton needs more rooms, I think they need to improve the atmosphere of their hotel to entice their guests to want to stay on the grounds and spend their money. We finally ended up going to the local grocery store and buying some Hinano to have in our room. "If you're going to drink alone, you might as well be by yourself." definately applied. We still had a great trip in spite of the hotel. We rented a car 3 of the days, went on the safari tour, hiked to 3 coconut pass, went on the sunset cruise on the Feta Ura, and went to find other interesting places to eat and spend our money and time. The Tiki Village show and dinner was awsome. We even went back to the Beachcomber to make sure that we weren't just having fond memories. That particular evening, they had local talent demonstrating dance and basket weaving. We never felt crowded when we stayed there even though the hotel was almost full. You had a choice to be alone, or to goto an activity. Their bar was packed with guests and local people we recognized from our shopping. Maybe the Sheraton just has a downtime during this time of year since it is the rains season. But it didn't seem to affect the Beachcomber

. When we stayed there, the Dolphins appeared happy and well cared for. Their roped area was changed at different times to give them larger access to the lagoon. The staff was always very friendly and attentive to anything you requested. On this vacation, the prepaid cost of our trip package (room and airfare) was only half the total cost of our trip. The other 50% of our money we spent outside of the hotel. I believe our final bill at the hotel was somewhere around $700, most of which was car rental and the off site activities we selected. If the Sheraton wants to make more money, they need to go after more of the money that their guests spend on the island for activities and atmosphere. Hey, how about an activity that teaches their guests about the delicate balance of the ocean life!

Moorea is our favorite vacation place, and we will return again (back to the Beachcomber). Most of it's charm is in it's untouched natural beauty. We have no desire to visit any of the other islands. Even our stay on Tahiti is only to make sure we make our departing flight. I agree that adding many more overwater bungalows will severly damage the eco system of Moorea, especially when the hotels don't educate their guests. Everyone who stays at the Moorea hotels should be made aware how fragile that system really is and how it should be respected by the visiting guests. Maybe just explaining the dangers that are in the water would at least make them more careful. And, it's not just respect of the ocean, but respect of the island itself. Tourism may be the major source of income, but tourists can both knowingly and unknowingly cause a lot of damage if not guided in the right direction.


Deb and Kirk

Forest Lake, Minnesota - USA

I have been to Moorea and loved every moment of it.

I don't see any reason for more Overwater Bungalows. All the garden bungalows are
just as nice. I stayed in an Overwater Bungalow for three nights. Even thou it was
beautiful it is not worth destroying the environment and help all those greedy investors.


We are planning our first trip to Moorea in April. We, of course, had a choice of properties to stay at. After viewing the pictures of many locations, we decided that sitting on a beautiful beach and staring out at a bunch of buildings obstructing the incredible oceanviews was not for us. We are staying at a property that is free of such obstructions!


I just visited this web site - http://www.magicmoorea.com/sheraton/ and it
reiterates what I've been reading and seeing on the internet about people
on their honeymoon being bumped out of horizon overwater bungalows and the
over booking conditions found at the Sheraton Moorea.

I have booked my honeymoon which I want to be special not stressful and
argumentative. Did I make a mistake staying 5 days and 4 nights at the
Sheraton Moorea? I booked (as I was told and read that these were the best
and most romantic units) a horizon overwater bungalow (and paid extra). Did
I make a mistake? Will I be "bumped"? Is this over booking and
insensitivity to guests a thing of the past?

I'm really concerned since I want (as anyone would) my honeymoon to be very
special and memorable (for good reasons!). After a few days in LA (we live
in New Jersey), on 6/27/03, we board the Windstar for a 7 day cruise out of
Tahiti. Then to make our honeymoon even more special, we will go to the
Sheraton Moorea on 7/4/03 for 4 nights and 5 days.

What advice do you have to ensure I get the best unit available on the
class of service that I'm expecting? Do I have any recourse now before I
go? What can I do to ensure the spectacular honeymoon we are planning?
Help, a concerned, soon to be Sheraton Moorea visitor.

Thanks, Ronald