This property sits on an exceptional 12 hectare estate, located at the top of the Tahara’a Cliffs, and the viewpoint offers a spectacular panoramic view of Matavai Bay, and in the distance; Papeete and even the full view of Moorea.
Built in 1967, opened in 1968, and closed around 1989. It was designed by architect Neal Prince, who designed many hotels internationally. Tahara'a InterContinental Hotel was a subsidiary of Pan Am Airlines.
The Tahara'a was less of a Tahitian hotel and more of a Westerner's dream of what a Tahitian hotel should be. It was over the top in almost every way and was THE Tahitian hotel in the 1970s and 80s until its close in 1989.
In addition to the wonderful hillside, with a wonderful view of the Moorea Bay, the hotel offered the largest guest rooms of any hotel in the South Pacific, at the time. Each guest room was air conditioned, with a dressing room, bathroom and spacious terrace.
It had around 201 rooms and many amenities, including the Captain Cook Restaurant and a coffee house/café decorated with pufferfish, cork floats strung across the ceiling on old sailing rope, and many more tikis and artifacts supplied by the famous (at least to tikiphiles) Oceanic Arts in Whittier, CA.
Neal Prince designed the interiors of the hotel. During this time, no one on the island had the skills or the know-how to carve tikis. Thus, Prince hired Oceanic Arts to produce his sketches. Among many other pieces of décor, the owners, Leroy Schmaltz and Robert Van Oosting, produced the 21-foot tall signature hotel tiki for Prince. When that massive tiki was delivered, the plan was for it to be placed in the lobby of the hotel. However, due to the weight and height of the tiki, it was not able to fit. So, they telephoned Prince and inquired what to do with it. Mr. Prince asked where the tiki was at that moment, and Ed Crissman (another carver who worked for Oceanic Arts at the time) noted that it was currently located in the front of the hotel, to which Prince replied, "Great, then leave it right there!!". And so, it remained… an icon of the hotel for many years until the hotel eventually closed.
There are reports that this giant tiki remains standing today, even though the hotel has been closed and the property has been abandoned for many years.
Some wonder why this property was abandoned and the answers remain murky. The hotel announced in 1983 after a worker's strike that it could no longer afford to stay open. At one point later in its life it was named the Hyatt Regency Tahiti. In 1989 it was purchased for $30 million by the Japanese company, EIE, who planned to renovate it with $8 Million earmarked for that purpose. It does not appear that those renovations ever took place.
It is listed for sale by Sotheby's Real Estate with no set asking price and has been for several years.
*Not to be confused with the current InterContinental Resort & Spa which features a Tiki Bar and is close to the airport. The new InterContinental location is quite luxurious and well-reviewed, but perhaps the newest and most exclusive hotel in Tahiti is just down the way from the abandoned Tahara'a -- Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts (formerly the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti).