Sheraton resort on the Cook Islands is now deserted

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The abandoned Sheraton resort on the picturesque major island of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga, south coast, has a captivating and troubled history that has fascinated locals and visitors alike. This 5-star 200-suite hotel, surrounded by stunning natural beauty, was intended to be a luxurious getaway for tourists. However, the resort remains unfinished and deserted due to a series of unfortunate events, including financial mismanagement and a purported curse. In this article, we delve into the captivating story of the cursed Sheraton resort, exploring its origins, challenges, and the mystery surrounding its ownership.


Babiche Martens/






In 1987, the Cook Islands government, to boost tourism and economic growth, agreed with an Italian bank to finance the construction of the Sheraton resort. The government guaranteed a substantial USD 36 million loan, while Sheraton was enlisted to manage the property. Construction commenced in 1990, with ambitious plans for a 200-suite hotel and an accompanying golf course.

Tragically, the project’s development stopped when it was approximately 80% complete, leaving a haunting reminder of what could have been. The resort fell victim to financial mismanagement, and According to reports, a large chunk of the $36 million loan vanished into the hands of the mafia and other unscrupulous individuals. This sudden depletion of funds severely affected the Cook Islands’ finances, burdening taxpayers with an enduring interest bill.








Since the resort’s abandonment, ongoing legal battles and protracted disputes surrounding its ownership have existed. The complex issue has been mired in the courts for years, impeding significant progress toward the resort’s potential redevelopment. The unresolved question of ownership continues to cast a shadow over the Sheraton resort, leaving it in limbo.

Adding to the intriguing narrative surrounding the Sheraton resort is the belief held by many Rarotongans that the site is cursed. According to local legend, the resort’s land was condemned in 1911 following a bitter dispute over its ownership. A woman allegedly cast the curse, and at the resort’s official launch, her grandson, dressed as a high priest, performed a ceremonial act. He thrust his spear into a rock, which split to the ground, signifying the continuation of the curse in the eyes of the locals. This incident reinforced the perception that the resort was doomed from its inception.


Steve Parker/


Steve Parker/


Steve Parker/


Steve Parker/


Richard Walker/


Richard Walker/


Jeremy Leslie/

The abandoned Sheraton resort symbolises unfinished dreams and unresolved conflicts as the years pass. The combination of financial misfortune, alleged mafia involvement, and the believed curse has created a mystery around the site. Despite suggestions for redevelopment, progress has been stifled by the enduring legal battles over ownership. Until the complex issue is resolved, the fate of the Sheraton resort hangs in the balance, captivating the imagination of those intrigued by its troubled past.


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/


Elizabeth Stegall/





The abandoned Sheraton resort on Rarotonga’s south coast is a testament to the intersection of ambition, misfortune, and supernatural folklore. This once-promising 5-star hotel, conceived to elevate tourism and boost the Cook Islands’ economy, was marred by financial mismanagement and alleged mafia involvement. Furthermore, the haunting curse associated with the resort has perpetuated its mystique and intrigued locals and visitors. As the legal battles for ownership persist, the Sheraton resort remains suspended in time, reminding us of the fragility of dreams and the enduring power of legends.


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