Heaven on Earth: Bora Bora

 

Mount Otemanu rises in the distance beyond St. Regis Bora Bora’s Overwater Villas.

 

 

Luxury Travel Advisor selected these three resorts from our recent visit to Bora Bora because we believe they offer the total package: stellar accommodations, service, spas, and fine cuisine.

Boating aficionados will enjoy the 20-minute ride to the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora on its custom-crafted teak and mahogany Andreyale Taxi-Boats, a nostalgic nod to 1920s water taxis that were used in New York city to transport Wall Street executives. Guests can even arrange to charter these sleek vessels for private use by contacting Chief Concierge Gilles Mauffras (gilles.mauffras@fourseasons.com; 011-689-603-133). He can also arrange VIP experiences. Must Do: An exhilarating three-hour jet-ski tour that circumnavigates the island.

The most requested accommodations are the Otemanu Overwater Bungalows with private plunge pools. On the ends of the four pontoons, bungalows No. 130, 230, 330 and 430 offer the most privacy and the best, unobstructed views of Mount Otemanu. A good choice for families, these 1,156-square-foot bungalows include dining areas with seating for five and large decks with chaise lounges, a pool and a ladder right into the lagoon. The Mountain-View Overwater Bungalows provide comparable views without the plunge pool. They can also be requested with one king bed or with two queen beds. Note: In addition to glass panels on the bathroom floor, the bungalows at the Four Seasons have beautifully crafted bathtubs next to sliding doors, so guests can soak in the scene while bathing.

Looking for seclusion? The three-bedroom Otemanu Luxury Beachfront Villa with private pool is the choice. Surrounded by lush foliage, the 5,380-square-foot tropical hideaway, which dedicates more than a third of its space to outdoor terraces, has beach access, stellar views and a garden whirlpool. There are also six two-bedroom Beachfront Villas with private pools. Four of these are classified as “premium” because they offer views of the mainland, while the other two villas face the lagoon.

Luxury travel advisors can contact either Nancy Marino
(
nancy.marino@fourseasons.com) or Chris Devito (chris.devito@fourseasons.com).

The Spa at Four Seasons Bora Bora is on the highest point of the resort.
Spa Manager Laurence Georget (
laurence.georget@fourseasons.com;
011-689-603-037) suggests booking spa treatments two weeks in advance. Recommend the Kahaia Haven Ritual, a couples’ treatment that can even be tweaked by the therapist to cater to non-romantic relationships. Note: Request the overwater Kahaia Spa Suite, complete with a soaking tub on the terrace. Glass panes are situated under the face cradles so that spa-goers can watch the myriad fish swim by.

In the evening, snag a seat on the terrace of the overwater Sunset Restaurant and Bar. Drinks can easily turn into dinner at this casual and convivial spot, which offers sushi and Asian-inspired small plates.

The poolside Faré Hoa Beach Bar caters to the sun-worshipping lunch crowd. Two days in a row, we couldn’t help but order the seared swordfish wrap, which pairs perfectly with a Hinano, the local Tahitian beer. Early birds will love the spread at Tere Nui’s breakfast buffet. This restaurant also has buffet-style dinners, including a night dedicated to BBQ, where chefs prepare made-to-order dishes. Discerning palates will appreciate the seafood dishes at Arii Moana. For true Polynesian ambiance, a Monday-night dinner show is hosted on the beach, featuring family-style meals, live music, dancing and fire shows. Note: Clients can also opt for a private dinner on the beach, to be booked a month in advance.

Serving as the backdrop for the recent film Couples Retreat starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is used to catering to A-listers (Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban spent their honeymoon there). It was also voted the “Best Luxury Hotel in the South Pacific” by the readers of Luxury Travel Advisor in the 2009 Awards of Excellence.

Star Digs: The 13,000-square-foot Royal Estate claims to be the largest suite in the South Pacific. With three bedrooms, two living rooms, a chef’s kitchen, a dining room with a terrace and a private swimming pool, it’s hard to disagree. The villa also has its own beach and spa area, featuring a treatment pavilion, sauna, hammam and whirlpool.

On a clear day, you can see the neighboring islands of Raiatea and Taha’a from the Oceanfront Villas. Note: The 2,852-square-foot, two-bedroom Royal Oceanfront Pool Villas, Nos. 507 and 511, are the largest on the beach and have infinity-edge pools. On the lagoon, there are a handful of one-bedroom pool villas, complete with hammocks fixed between palms. With only one neighboring villa, No. 406 is the most private and our favorite.
It has an infinity-edge pool and an expansive terrace that was made for entertaining.

Suspended over the water, St. Regis’ bungalows range from 1,550 square feet to 3,455 square feet. While they are all outfitted with Bose DVD/CD players and two 42-inch plasma TVs, the best show to watch is through the glass panes on the floor, where you can catch a glimpse of tropical fish and the occasional stingray.

Top View: The Royal Overwater Villas, which have two bedrooms and a pool on the terrace (Nos. 122 and 202 are at the end of the pontoon and offer more privacy), and the one-bedroom Premier Overwater Villas (Nos. 103-110), which have outdoor whirlpools.

On its own private island, the 13,000-square-foot Spa Miri Miri fuses Polynesian and Asian services. Spa Director Melanie Richard (melanie.richard@stregisborabora.com; 011-689-607-841) will assist in scheduling treatments. The St. Regis Polynesian Massage is the most requested service and therapist Uratua Drollet is a favorite. For guests who prefer a male therapist, Suryadama Dewa is the most popular pick. Note: Suggest your clients take their cameras to the spa. They won’t want to miss the photo op from the outdoor relaxation area, thanks to a splendid vista of Mount Otemanu.

 

Four Seasons resort Bora Bora offers shark and bat ray feeding among other activities on its outer reef and deep lagoon.

 

The St. Regis Bora Bora is the first to introduce a Michelin-starred chef to French Polynesia. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Lagoon is the resort’s signature restaurant and turns out some of the chef’s most notable dishes, including savory rice-cracker crusted Ahi tuna with Sriracha-Citrus emulsion and sweet caramelized banana cake. Note: Lagoon offers terrace seating, which should be reserved before guests arrive at the resort. For the best seat indoors, Table 173 is the prime spot. Hint: Guests can even catch dinner themselves and have it prepared that evening. Head Concierge Jeanne Pahuiri (jeanne.pahuiri@stregisborabora.com; 011-689-607-830) can arrange deep-sea fishing trips.

Te Pahu’s breakfast buffet includes everything from delicate French quiches to steaming miso soup. Must Try: Kick-start your day with a Bora Mary, which incorporates watermelon or strawberry juice with St. Regis’ traditional Bloody Mary mix. It’s recommended to reserve a space at Sushi Take, self-described as French Polynesia’s first sushi restaurant, which has only 20 tables. Contact Food and Beverage Coordinator Fabienne Fillon (fabienne.fillon@stregisborabora.com; 011-689-607-867) for reservations.

Luxury travel advisors should contact Sales Manager Bianca Henry (bianca.henry@stregisbo; 011-689-607-837) or Travel Specialist Atea Lucas (rabora.comatea.lucas@stregisborabora.com; 011-689-607-805), who will facilitate guest arrangements, inter-island travel and other special requests.

Eco-minded? The InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa is for you. It uses a revolutionary air-conditioning and cooling system, which runs on seawater that is extracted deep from the Pacific Ocean. This mineral-rich seawater is also the heart and soul of the resort’s 14-treatment-room Deep Ocean Spa, designed by marine-based French skincare line Algotherm. Perfect for girlfriend getaways and clients interested in wellness vacations, it is the first thalassotherapy spa in the South Pacific. According to Spa Director Anne de Saint Pierre (adesaintpierre@deep; 011-689-865-499), one of the most popular treatments is the Traditional Massage with Monoï by Hei Poa, which incorporates locally crafted oils derived from coconuts and tiare.nature.fr

Pre- or post-treatment, guests can reap the benefits of deep seawater through a self-guided hydrotherapy circuit. They can experience a number of whirlpools, a Swim Spa that simulates strong ocean currents and a Deep Chiller Walk to revitalize jet-lagged legs. Note: The spa also has a sea-facing indoor relaxation area.

All of the overwater villas at the resort are the same size, have the same sleek design and the same amenities, including sun terraces and large bathrooms with separate showers and picture windows. The only difference is the views they offer. The six Diamond Otemanu Overwater Villas are the most coveted. The best part of the villa? The glass wall in front of the king-size bed. We stayed in Villa No. 124 and slept with the curtains open so that Mount Otemanu was the first thing we saw in the morning. Nestled amid a coconut grove, there are also three two-bedroom Family Motu Villa Suites, which could be considered a safer option for people traveling with children. According to General Manager Guillaume Epinette (guillaume.epinette@interconti.pf; 011-689-604-900), high season at the hotel is June through August; he recommends making reservations three to six months out. Head Concierge Laure Salabert (laure.salabert@interconti.pf; 011-689-607-630) can assist agents with room reservations.

Suggest that clients enjoy breakfast in their villas, which is delivered via outrigger canoes. If they prefer to venture out for an early bite, the options at Le Reef will not disappoint. Sands has lunch options from fresh salads to its signature meat- or fish-filled pastries called les coffrets. The Euro-vibey Bubbles is a great place to enjoy drinks poolside or on the daybeds in the sand. It’s suggested to make dinner reservations one month out during high season, and two weeks in advance the rest of the year. For true romance, Salabert can schedule an excursion to a private motu, where clients can snorkel and have an idyllic lunch, complete with a table set in shallow water.

If your clients are interested in planning a destination wedding, the InterContinental is ideal. Considering French Polynesia is in the process of modifying its 30-day residency requirement to obtain a marriage license, destination weddings are sure to become big business in Bora Bora—and the InterContinental is already prepared. The resort features the overwater Blue Lagoon Chapel in a tranquil corner of the resort where couples can walk down a glass-bottom aisle and take their vows in front of a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of Mount Otemanu. Fairy-tale weddings can also be set up on a quiet stretch of beach or even on a secluded motu. Salabert would also be the contact for helping plan these unforgettable memories.

Getting There: Air Tahiti is the only airline that flies into Bora Bora. There are daily multiple flights from Papeete, Tahiti.

 

 

A Thalasso Bungalow at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort has a private pontoon for sunbathing.