Overgrown grass, walls covered in graffiti and smashed sinks are all that remain of the shattered dream that was the Sheraton Rarotonga. The abandoned five-star resort is hard to miss on a loop drive around Rarotonga, with the massive, unfinished grounds sticking out like a sore thumb in paradise.
The land has quite the history, with land disputes and bad investments lying at the demise of the resort. More than 80% of the resort was said to have been completed, but financial problems prevented the Sheraton from being finished more than 20 years ago. There have been further attempts to revive the project, with even the Hilton group trying their hand at the ill-fated development – yet it still lies dormant and waiting.
You can’t shake the eerie feeling that arrives as soon as you step foot into the grounds. Entering into the first room, I was hit with the overwhelming feeling of abandonment and neglect. Graffiti from the last two decades completely covered the walls, rusty wiring hung from the ceiling, dirt and broken glass littered the floor, and holes were smashed into walls.
If anything, exploring the Sheraton brought up a great amount of sadness. What a waste. There were rooms piled up with wall insulation material, spa baths lay forgotten, filing cabinets were tossed to the side and other valuable resources lay vulnerable to the elements. Not to mention, the massive investment the Cook Island government put into the project, leaving many locals out of pocket.
It’s back to the waiting game for the Sheraton project. Hopefully, it’s not another 20 years of dereliction and decay.