Total immersion in local culture and traditions, a growing trend
The spirit of Polynesian hospitality is present in all tourist establishments, whether they be large luxury hotels or small family hotels and homestays. The latter are becoming increasingly popular as tourists seek a more “genuine” down-to-earth experience, mingling with the local inhabitants.
By staying in Tahitian guest houses, travellers are able to keep costs down, with prices ranging from around $US80 a night for a double room. The accommodation is generally in simple, local-style bungalows, some with only cold showers, although this is generally specified by the owners. In terms of cultural immersion, these family-run operations ensure that the money spent is going directly into local pockets, and many travellers are thrilled to receive more personal experiences. Some offer half board (demi-pension), also enabling the visitor to obtain a genuine taste of the local cuisine.
While a lack of facilities could be seen by some as a disadvantage in a family guest house, some use this as their key selling point. For example, Pension Alice & Raphaêl Guesthouse on Bora Bora claims: “Our 3 bungalows provide a view over the beautiful surrounding nature scenes, the lagoon and the main island. They are built with local natural materials: roofs in Pandanus leaves from Bora Bora, walls in Bamboo from Raïatea, beds made from local wood “Aito” from our motu. Bungalows (room and bathroom) are furnished with king size beds with mosquito nets, fan, hot water (solar heating), deckchairs. NO TV, NO KITCHEN, NO AIR CONDITIONING, NO FRIDGE. Our electricity is solar based and we save rain water to augment our water consumption.”
Yes, it is a way to truly get away from the hassles of modern day life… and forewarned is forearmed.
Lesser known islands are growingly becoming known for interesting homestay solutions, including Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka and Ua Pou in the Marqueses, Mataiva and Tikenau in the Tuamotus, Raiatea and Taha’a in the Society Islands, and Rurutu and Raivavae in the Australs.
The Ministry of Tourism is continuing to work with those running private guest houses, helping them orientate their offering in relation to the region’s strategic positioning (with regard to cultural sharing, and exceptional tourism sites), while conserving the originality and quality of their product. This has required enhanced organisation and professionalism on the part of local tourism actors, an improvement of the quality of services on offer, as well as modernised management of tourism enterprises and a strong link with the supply local chains (fishing, agriculture, etc.). The norms of classification of this kind of accommodation are currently also under review.