Saturday, 7 November 2015

What a $1300 per night resort in Bora Bora is like

Bora Bora

Visited in August 2015


A resort island often pictured in online travel blogs.

Recently, the island has been in the entertainment news as Jennifer Aniston went there for her honeymoon (a whopping16k SGD per night 3-bedroom villa!!!) and is also where Justin Bieber was photographed in his birthday suit. 

The classic postcard view shows the turquoise lagoon surrounding a green extinct volcano with over-water bungalows.




Not too bad for a novice isn't it?

The central volcano rises up to 2 peaks and the higher one seen in the above picture is Mount Otemanu.

Researching more on Bora Bora will reveal that it is located in the French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean (read: middle of nowhere) and perhaps the only populated place more isolated is the famed Easter Island (occupied by the seafaring Polynesians as well).

Once upon a time, I received an email from a travel company saying "cheap flights to BORABORA!", which got me really excited!




Sadly for me, it was an advertisement for Boracay (which is also beautiful).

So, how did I get to this 'Bucket List' destination?


Located in Singapore, there are no (easy) flights to bring me to Bora Bora.



Therefore, the route I ended up taking was through Auckland to Tahiti, the capital island of French Polynesia, and then a domestic flight to Bora Bora.


Air Tahiti from Tahiti to Bora Bora


Why is the accommodation so expensive?!


Simply because Bora Bora is a resort island, no different from the Maldives (you can read my previous review on Angsana Ihuru here) or closer to home, like Sentosa.

The hotel I stayed was the "InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa", which is located on a small island (motu) off the central volcano. Staying on the main island will not give the opportunity for the postcard view of the volcano across the lagoon!

The rates are about SGD$1300 per night (for the lowest category!) or slightly less during the 'off season'. Less than 10% of Jennifer Aniston's villa in comparison.

Fortunately I am an InterContinental Ambassador and had 1 free night from a promotion which definitely helped to bring down the high cost.

From the airport to the resort....

 

There is a counter at the Bora Bora airport with a hotel representative to bring guests to their resorts.

This smooth service comes at a transfer cost of $100 per person per return trip so be prepared to 'pay and pay'....  For those who has been to Maldives, the seaplane or speedboat transfer is the same concept.



If your accommodation is on the main island, you can take the free shuttle to the town Vaitape and make your own way to your hotel.

 

Tour around the Over-water Villa

 

The hotel representative who fetched us from the airport continued to take us to our villa with a buggy from the landing pier.

Checking in was done in the comfort of the villa and with a special rate for breakfast at $25 per person per day instead of the usual $50.

The villa is really big with a deck but let the pictures do the talking.

Living Room

The top glass panel of the table can slide open a little to feed the fish below.







I was temped to swim below the villa for a picture but decided against on looking at the pictures of others who have done that, it appears that they are in a casket. Ominous indeed.




Standing shower

Walk-in wardrobe

Bed, the bathroom behind the wall with the bathtub on the right

The room comes with a bottle of water and some treats.
Water is scarce so remember to ration if you don't want to part with a lot more money.



From the deck, one can go directly into the water or just sit and relax.



Or look at other villas.



The hotel uses Algotherm products, which I now have a bag of, which were replaced every day.


Breakfast

This is at the restaurant Reef with a good spread of food considering the geographical isolation of the hotel and of French Polynesia.




Sometimes the napkins come with flowers and sometimes not. I have no idea when or why.



The pastries are of a high standard, crispy and fresh so I suspect the chef is from France.




Raw Tuna is a staple here and I loved it!

A variety of hot dishes were available too.





Other dining options

A fine restaurant Corail is next to Reef and is open for dinner.



Bubbles is the name of the bar for some alcohol and overlooks the pool.




One romantic option is dining on the beach at night.


Walking around the resort

The staff here are very polite and friendly. Everyone would greet you "Ia Orana" with big smiles.


The other side of the island is the vast Pacific Ocean! A nice clear horizon, roaring waves with a mild breeze gives me joy just thinking about it!


That's me with the evening sun behind Mount Otemanu. The silhouette is such a beauty!


A small sandbank at the side of the walk way is great for pictures!

Of course my favourite photo with the sandbank is that of my friend.
He is in Manhunt Singapore 2015 and I hope anyone who reads my post can help give him some support and likes on Facebook and Instagram!






There are also some coral gardens scattered around the resort and one can get fish food from the pool staff to feed the fish.




I even saw a cat on the island!
I wonder if it belongs to the resort staff.


There are Day Rooms for use in the event the hotel is unable to grant early check-in or late check-in.



Couples can take their wedding vows in this over-water chapel. The chapel is also in the background in the earlier picture with dining on the beach.

There is an area for social activites beside the bar Bubbles, and there was a Wii for use too!



The concierge and a jewellery shop are located in the same area.

Concierge

The Beach

The sand is slightly coarse compared to the Maldives and can be painful to walk on if there are many pebbles.

One can choose to power a outrigger canoe or do stand-up paddleboarding. Free of charge.



Or if you are feeling lazy.... Just sit by the Beach Lounge. :)


After some water sports, a shower in a wood structure awaits. Or just go back to the gorgeous villa!


Mount Otemanu


The volcano is actually quite shy and the peak does not appear everyday. Most days the photos would look more like these.



Going to town Vaitape

There is an option to go to the main island and the town of Vaitape for shopping.

First, pay for the transport, then a speed boat will take you to the main island where the sister resort of InterContinental La Moana is. From there, a bus will transport the guest to the town.


Other meals at the Resort


We ordered in-room dining for one of the nights and the price was not too high compared to the hotel rates. Food didn't taste too bad.

 


 Another night was the Asian/Japanese Buffet at Reef and I was pretty amused by the Polynesian interpretations of Asian food.

 We have "sashimi", which was more like seared fish than raw.

 

And other food which was really different from what I am used to.




Japanese selections also included the following.


 

The decor was pretty minimal in my opinion. Mainly the addition of a few lanterns.

 


 

There is a spa in the hotel and those prices were really high...

 



A small gym is located next to the spa and was hardly crowded.

 

The Pool

The pool is next to the bar as mentioned earlier and is served by several hunky pool boys who were very kind to make Tahitian head wear for us. The hat is now all brown but the memories are great!



 

It was very fun interacting with the friendly pool boys and getting to know some Tahitian words.


As with all holidays, it was soon time to go home and I shall end this post with this nice picture of the beach.

 

Such a bittersweet task to write this post as I probably would not go back to Bora Bora.


Happy and healthy Travels to everyone!

And a quick reminder to support my friend for Manhunt 2015!