From its lush, palm-lined drive to its zen-ed out reception flanked by Balinese reflecting lily pools, entering the The Pacific Resorts Aitutaki (www.pacificresort.com) is soothing, beautiful and 'cool'. An artificial waterfall dramatically cascades from under the restaurant to the swimming pool below which in turn overlooks the brilliant blue lagoon lined with royal palms. From our bungalow's back porches, steps led down to a white-sand beach strewn with huge boulders of black volcanic rock. Taking advantage of a few minutes break, we waded out into the luxuriously warm, shallow water. Sometimes you've got to pinch yourself, although some people might have been put off by the cove's abundance of sea cucumbers. Who knows, perhaps the stiff, turd-like creatures are just seasonal. They certainly don't pose a threat of any sort.
The gift shop was stocked with classy stuff -quality folk art and handicrafts, genuine ukuleles, the sort of mementos you actually would like to bring home to prove to yourself you were really here. An odd ceramic figurine of a white parrotfish covered with black paisley-like patterns was so unusual I took a picture of it. What was it, a candleholder, or something? Whatever it was, at the equivalent of $35USD, it was a bargain, but I'm not much of a shopper (or maybe the ideal one) as I'll almost always defer buying anything, then regret it later. Remember, with the NZ$ then running about 55¢USD, everything in the Cooks -great hotels, meals, booze, black pearls, stuff, was a steal. Regretting not buying the fish, I slunk past the gift shop later that evening. It was already closed. Later, at the manager's cocktail party I discussed the ceramic fish with Michael Shah, a real go-to GM as far as guest's needs. He regretted that as much as he'd like to help, the woman who runs the shop takes the keys home with her. She wouldn't be back to reopen until after we departed the island. I gave him my credit card information just in case.