Place is amazing! Right on the beach, clear water, beautiful beach... House is huge and has perfect veranda with a sea view. Kitchen has everything: coffee machine, toaster, oven... Rooms are big, there are two bathrooms, huge living room and dining room. You can use kayaks for free. There is a lot of corals just 5 meters from the beach.
Next door is restaurant (I forgot the name), they have totally fresh fish (you see them fishing in the morning) - best fish and chips.
Totally worth it. Best price/ performance.
Our family of 4 (kids 10 and 8) stayed on stunning Aitutaki for 5 nights and we loved Are-a-Matatui. Our 2-bed, 2-bath beach villa was absolutely beautiful and very clean and comfortable. Mama, looks after this property plus next-door Are-a-tai and she is the sweetest lady-- every day asking us if we wanted fresh fruit. The villa has access to several kayaks which we used once-- the only time you can go out is around high tide. The villa has ceiling fans but no air on but thus wasn't a problem for us. The windows are screened but you still get the occasional bugs-- I think this is just part of island life. The 2nd bedroom can be made up as a king or 2 single beds which worked great for us. There is also a washing machine which was so helpful. The layout of the villa is really well thought-out.
The location was great for us-- 10 minutes from the airport and about 15 from the main town. We rented a car from Rino's rentals and having our own transport was important to get to restaurants, etc.
There are a few resorts on the island and you can go there for meals, island nights, etc. We preferred the space and peacefulness of having our own villa-- it really felt like our own idyllic island hideaway.
We spent six night here in late August/September, plenty of room for two couples with each room having an en suite. We hugely enjoyed the hospitality of Frances, Geoff and Mama. Communication around the booking was good, and we were greeted and introduced to the property on arrival. We had the front house, barely 50 metre from the beach. Some slight issues - there had been heavy rain the week before our arrival and a leak had developed, so tarpaulins obscured the solar panels and reduced our hot water a little, and we had a bit of a leak into the kitchen a couple of nights, but nothing fatal. Swimming off the beach is possible in all tides, with a great swimming hole more or less out the front. Snorkeling this side of the Island isn't anything spectacular but there are still plenty of fish to to see, especially if you swim or kayak out further towards the outer reef. Kitchen is very well equipped, there's a shared barbecue, and there are a handful of restaurants close enough if you can't bothered. Stores are a wee bit further away - you''l want a scooter or bike. This is a lovely spot for self catering option. Special thanks to the prior guests who left us a bit of gin : )
It appears I will be leaving my first ever negative trip advisor/air bnb rating! :(
I did attempt to sort the below issue with the owners, to no avail.
Basically, we feel the price of the 2bedroom/2 bath villa was way to high for the standard provided.
The Aretai Beach villas are very casual, which is fine....(we have stayed in plenty of budget places over the years -our accom in Muri, Raro is $150pn, & fabulous)...Its just not ok when you are paying $400-500 AUD (or NZD) per night!
ie. our expectations were very high due to the high price we paid.
No wifi provided for cost and without it its very difficult to get information re things like the weather for the following days so you can plan ahead (& we couldn't find the supposed 'hot spot' so had to always visit other hotels to use theirs w Telcom card)
There is also no shuttle (its quite remote, you cant really walk anywhere to get a good meal so you really need to hire a car, extra $70 per day!) Finding food to cook in the kitchen is a car trip, (but forget it if you arrived on a Sunday, most places closed!)
Very casual service:
On checkin, there was no key provided, had to go and ask for one.
They cleaned room after 2nd day (we had to ask though) and no towels were put back in the room, we had to go and ask for some.
Overall just not that professional as you would expect in a Luxury Villa.
Villa set up:
No aircon! We were there in June and accustomed to the heat so fans were fine, but had we been there in the other 9 months of the year (or from a colder climate) it would be a different story.
Beach ok but certainly not as amazing as I had expected (our beach at home in Australia is much nicer) for the price tag.
A lovely big mould mark above the ceiling in the kitchen & plastic shower recesses in bathroom
A real lack of information:
There was no house manual in the room so we weren't aware that we were supposed to boil our drinking water! And we were giving it to our 2yo son! We only found out the next day when we asked for one
Not told about daytime mozzies carrying a virus related to denge fever! Usually we would just be diligent in the evening. We were told as soon as we arrived in raro by out host who was quite surprised we weren't told already. (Our 2.5yo ended up contracting Chikengunya while there from the daytime mozzies in Aitutaki!! Horrible virus! Could have been avoided!!)
Lack of good facilities:
In a way I can really see the value in a hotel stay or a villa right next door as you can utilise all the facilities, restaurants, money change, tour bookings, transfers etc and not have to drive everywhere to get any of that done.
There are still a number of accommodation options in Aitutaki, including this one, which seem to be clinging to the islands heyday over 10 years ago when prices were very high. These days there is a lot more competition so, overall, your money will work better for you elsewhere on the island if you do your research. Check out places around Oohu beach; the only really amazing beach on the island of Aitutaki in our view (the islands in the lagoon are another story...heaven & one foot island...amazing!!)
There isn't a great deal to do in Aitutaki, and for that reason I can see why someone might enjoy staying in the resorts. Honestly though; seeing as the island itself, nor the beaches are as nice as rarotonga; I'd recommend that people just do a day trip...yes its $500pp but that includes flights and your lagoon trip to see the real beauty (Bishops cruises leaves from Oohu beach so you get to tick that off also) and you'll be back in Raro with its fabulous places to eat (Aitutaki doesnt have as good eating! Can be very hit and miss! Definitely avoid 'the boat house', very overpriced, and awful food and service! Aitutaki Village is great though)
2bed/2bath Villas are nice, certainly not $450-500Aud per night nice though.
It has a gorgeous verandah.
Has a washing machine, nice kitchen (albeit a bit ill equipped, very limited equipment, cheap aluminum saucepans rather than quality stainless steel etc) and it has lots of space.
Frances (Nick's mum) went out of her way on first night to find a restaurant open (Sunday is rest/everything closed day!) & then dropped us off...(the 10 minute drive home in a cab was $30NZD though)
Sorted a cot for us for our son
Nick was very helpful with questions in beginning. If they get there pricing right, include internet and maybe a transfer service, it might then be worth considering.
As a previous Air bnb host myself previously, my feedback from guests, was that my prices always represented value for money. As a result, my guests were always really happy with what they got and shared this with their friends as a result. Offering value for money is very beneficial in the long run
We stayed for 5 days in paradise at Are-a-Matatui (nobody on the island recognize this name, you have to say Aretai) there are two groups of bungalows in the same property, they belong to a sister and brother and are managed by mama, a lovely lady that makes you feel at home.
We were at the beachfront bungalow, with two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living/dinning room and a well equipped kitchen but the best is a huge deck with lounges and a big table. It has a washing machine and a drier, TV, DVD, Ipod dock, telephone and fans. It is hot but fortunately there is a breeze and you can have all windows open to cool it down, there are mosquitoes but we just feel them around sunset, we were prepared and use mossie repellent so no problem there.
The location is great, right in front of the water but yes the water is full of sea cucumbers (not slugs) and it is rocky but is calm, with a beautiful blue and soft ripples so it is great to kayak or to go walking since you can go quite far into the lagoon, specially in low tide (reef shoes are a must) and it is ok to swim in high tide, it faces the sunset (have your camera ready).
There are places to eat close by, we had a car and it allowed us to explore the island, go to other beaches and go to the top of the "mountain" (highly recommended, breathtaking views) and to go shopping in town when we did not want to eat out. Goods are expensive and limited as expected because all is carried to the island by boat, bring some from home, specially if you want to do any cooking or you want something special.
We highly recommend Kuro cafe, they make their own bread and sale their surplus, we enjoyed the turkish bread for breakfast every morning.
Visit to the lagoon is a must and a highlight of the trip, we went with Teking and had a good trip, surprisingly good lunch and the most gorgeous landscape (seascape?) with endless shades of blue.
The whole island have a pace that allows you to relax, this is the most relaxing holidays we have had for long time, it is paradise!
But why not 5 stars? Well, the place is clean but not to a high standard, the places out of the way are overlooked. The TV and DVD do not work and there is internet but no way to access it (we manage very well without but when you rent a place with this extras you expect to have them), Mama does not know how this things work and despise all her good intentions and amiability she can not help. There are other details overlooked, like we did not have soap in one of the bathrooms, the fan in the second bedroom makes lots of noise, the water filter does not work, the rubbish bins are small and do not get empty. The place really needs a manager, the owner is out of the country and you feel awful to bother Mama.
But if you are thinking in stay there, by all means go! these are small details and won't spoil your visit to paradise.