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“Thanksgiving Get Away”

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Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island
Ranked #5 of 17 Hotels in Bora Bora
Certificate of Excellence
Carmel, California
Level 6 Contributor
111 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Thanksgiving Get Away”
Reviewed January 19, 2013

The boat ride from the Airport to the hotel was a very unusual experience. After arriving at the Bora Bora Airport the hotel employees greet you where you get your luggage from the plane. You walk out the back of the baggage claim area on to a dock where your boat is waiting to take you to your island hotel. The boat ride is about 30 min. ride. The island is very small sometimes called a Motu. The island is about 1 mile long by about 1/2 mile wide. No, other business are on the motu. When you arrive at the dock of the island the hotel employees are there to greet you and take you to your room. We had a room on the island the room was on stilts. It had a view of the ocean and the main island of Bora Bora. We where in room #104 the closes room to the lobby. The rooms are all separate bungalows the rooms are large with decks. They do have rooms over the water for more money but the rooms are the same size. If you get a room on the motu then get room 105 or 106 which should have a better view of the ocean than we had. Our view was thru the trees on to the ocean. The food was a good buffet for breakfast. The hotel is really geared for Honeymooners and people who want privacy. It had 2 small beach areas but the hotel only had about 35 rooms so the beaches where not crowded. The water was crystal clear and warm temp. was probably in the 80's. The snorkeling was excellent they have a reef on the other side of the island where the fish hang around. The transportation is a small boat that takes people on the motu every 15 mins. to the main island. The views from the top of the motu where beautiful. You climb up a small trail about 1/4 mile to the top and at the top every night they have the waitresses serve drinks so you can watch the sunset. The island has some history I discovered a wooded sign that tells a story about the owners of the island and how the hotel came about. The movie director Dino de Laurentus back in the 80's filmed the movie "Hurricane" on the island and after filming the movie decided to buy the island. So, if you want to see the island "motu" before the hotel was built rent the movie ahead of time. And you will see scenes that show the island in its raw state before development. Read about the movie director and his history and how he was in the movie business for about 70ys. and how he made about 20 movies. And the famous actors and actress he worked with. The lobby and bar are very small but the bar does have a man made waterfall in the bar area. The hotel is spreed out all over the motu an is built on the side of the motu so plan on walking a lot and on uneven grown. You get a very cozy feeling about the place and a very private feeling almost a Swiss Family Robinson kind of like feeling as if you where ship wrecked on a uninhabited island. The beach has a igloo that you can relax in and you feel totally at peace as you lay there overlooking the ocean. You could just lay there for hours reading a book the atmosphere is quite and peaceful. The hotel is not fancy and is very rustic and could use a remodeling. But, the price is right compared to the other hotels on the island of Bora Bora. The island is a very expensive place to vacation. To rent a car was $100 for 2 hrs. of use. Bora Bora is a small island you can see in a 1hr. drive around the island. And other that a couple of small towns that are only a couple of blocks long really there is not much to see and do on Bora Bora. So, if you like to snorkel and send time in the water this is the place to be. But, other than water sports the place is very quite and that is why people visit the place. Also come in any month other than Jan.-March because that is the rainy season and a shop keeper told me that it is not usual for it to rain a week at a time with no let up. In fact a couple of years ago he said it rain none stop for a whole month. We went in November during Thanksgiving and lucked out it didn't rain the whole week we where there. The weather is in the 80's pretty much all year round and very humid. To the point that you get pretty sweaty and tired after a long walk. So, going out for a long run is not a lot of fun except the views of the island. I have been all over the world and nothing compares to Bora Bora. It is the most beautiful island you can imagine.a volcano created the island a long time ago and because of that the waves of the ocean break about 2 miles off shore. So from the waves to the shore it is a lagoon and from up above from a airplane you see this beautiful shade of blue first dark then light blue. If you try to compare it to Hawaii you can say it was Hawaii maybe 100yrs. ago. The population on the island is very small because the island is very small. You will not see any high rise hotels or any busy downtown areas. We where there 10yrs. ago and it looks just like it looked like 10yrs. ago. But, with a lot more Hotels. You must have dinner at Bloody Mary's restaurant. Each night they will come and pick you up at your hotel and take you there for dinner and then bring you back to your hotel. The ride is about 20 minutes and they do not charge for the ride in the van. So if you are looking for R&R and the best snorkeling this is the place to be. It is a 8hr. non-flight from Los Angeles but a world apart from what you are use to.

Room Tip: Get a room on the island at the end of the bungalows further away from the lobby for best views. Bes...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank James G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 25, 2013
Thank you for sharing your experience from the welcome and for your whole stay at Sofitel Bora Bora Private island and to highlight that this private island is a great place to be for honeymooners and for people who love their privacy and to enjoy a exclusivity of having the feeling to own their island and to have the cousu main service of a boutique hotel with a great history!
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Rochester, Minnesota
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2013

Overall this was amazing stay. The staff was very friendly (don't know why some people had issues, it seems those are worked out), perfect location and everything you could ever want for you stay. Neither or us spoke any French or Polynesian and never had an issue communicating with the staff. Breakfast was great and everything was always prepared the way we wanted it. Yes the prices are a little high, but you have to remember that everything is shipped in, its not easliy transported to the island. For dinner the prices are less at the main Sofitel resort, which you can get to by a free shuttle which runs whenever you want it. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes for the boat. Or you can venture to one of the cafes (highly recommend Bloody Mary's) around the main hotel, which a lot of them offer a free taxi to and from dinner, you just have to ask the reception. Also take the shuttle the hotel provides to and from the airport, it worked great!

Room: Everything you could want in an overwater room. It is very nicely decorated and the bed is very comfortable. Our bathroom looked redone and did not have mold or any issue with the fixtures. There is a TV with French channels, and 2 English ones, but we never watched it, you aren't going to Bora Bora to watch TV... The patio was awesome, there was a large area that was covered to get out of the sun when you had to much, and 2 large lounges on the sun deck with easy access to the water.

Food: A little pricey, as expected, but not outrageous. The staff is very friendly and very attentive to anything that you need. As stated above, if you want less expensive food, the main hotel is a little less expensive and you can go to the market by the main resort.

Activities: This was a big plus for us. Everything the resort owns is free for the guests. You can use the sea kayaks, canoes, and snorkel gear all you want. You are given a set of snorkel equipment to use on your stay, which really comes in handy since there is a large and AMAZING coral garden on the other side of the island. It is the same place that many of the tour groups charge you to visit, and for you it is a simple walk around the island. There is also an awesome place to watch the sunset from the top of a little hill on the island and most of the time we were the only ones up there. There is no swimming pool or fitness center on the private island. Those are over at the main resort.

This resort had everything we could ever want in a trip. It was perfect for couples, there weren't a ton of kids running (only saw 2 the whole trip) around and very romantic and intimate. There are only 20 or so rooms on the island, so it never felt crowded. If you are looking for a family place I would say the main resort would fit your needs better. We are going to recommend this resort to our friends who are traveling to the islands and hopefully can return in the future!

Room Tip: Every room is great! Even the rooms that aren't "over water" are right on the beach wi...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Helpful?
6 Thank Matthew H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 16, 2013
Many thanks for your great comment and for sharing your experience at Sofitel Private Island, we want to make this place So special because it is a So special place to be. Few people have the chance in life to experience such a magnifique private island and we are happy that you could join this very exclusive "club"
We really hope to welcome you back, many new great surprise will happen again in Sofitel Bora Private Island in 2013!
We want to surprise all our guests and to provide the best to exceed all expectation. this is our commitment and we will make it in 2013!
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Wilton, Connecticut
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2013

My husband and I stopped here for five days at the end of our honeymoon that had been largely spent in New Zealand. Though I was tempted to rate this property "average" due to service issues and some minor bumps with the amenities, I do think that there were a few things that made it special that pushed me to the four stars and an understanding that French Polynesian service isn't necessarily what I am accustomed to (though, I must say, for the price you pay you should still expect decent service!).

Upon arrival at the airport, a woman from the Sofitel kindly greeted us with leis and ushered us to our boat that would bring us to the hotel. It was late on a Saturday evening, so we did not have the unpleasant experience of having to wait like some of the other reviewers had. Once at the Sofitel, we were warmly greeted by the hostess and another gentleman playing the drums to "announce our arrival" and were then brought up to the dining room for a couple of complimentary cocktails.

We stayed in Bungalow 127, which felt nicely secluded and had a really beautiful view of the lagoon. They had left me a gift of a pretty red sarong and a kind note welcoming us since it was our honeymoon. The decor, as noted by other reviewers, was becomingly Polynesian and fit the bungalow perfectly. However, I was surprised by how out-dated the bathroom had been (there was a bunch of mold growing in the shower, which I was taken aback with considering how the resort was recently updated). The outside deck, on the other hand, was a fantastic treat. We never even made it to the beach - we just basked in the sun (which was really fortunate to have considering it was the rainy season!) on our chairs while sipping some locally-bought rose. The food and drink prices (including simple necessities such as water), are grossly inflated at the resort... we learned after a couple of days that it is better to go to the market for purchases such as extra water or wine.

That leads me to something that I feel is completely missing with this resort: a simple little store carrying basic necessities such as sunblock, deodorant, dental floss, etc. In order to get any of these things, we needed to take the boat over to the mainland and walk to town. Granted, the round-trip takes about 30 minutes, but it's still a bit of an inconvenience (especially on our last day when we ran out of sunblock and only had a few more precious hours left on the island).

The breakfast is rather decent in the morning with a selection of pastries, fruit, and yogurt, but our sausages were consistently over-cooked when ordered, and our eggs were either completely dry (when scrambled) or very greasy (when over-easy). We were advised by other guests staying to go to lunch at the other Sofitel, and we learned that the hard way first-hand after ordering lunch at the private island on the first day. I ordered a simple salad with any vegetables they had on hand available such as tomatoes (there was no garden salad on the menu - so, granted, I was ordering something that was not listed), and they returned with a Chicken Caesar salad. I had asked her prior to placing the order if she understood me (and had mentioned what words I could in French), thinking she clearly understood. When she came out with the Caesar, she looked at me as if I had two heads and got frustrated with ME that I had ordered something other than that. It also took them over a half hour (literally!) to come back with our FROZEN cocktails. By the time they got to us, they were no longer frozen. I asked the bartender if she had mixed the wrong drink because it wasn't frozen, and she said "No, no - I mix it right", so I just gave up and drank it warm (since I hate wasting things and never send anything back). We ended up eating lunch at the other Sofitel every other day there and were happy with it as it had a more robust lunch menu, though the drink service there again was still abysmally slow as the bartender had to look at a book for the instructions to make every single cocktail.

I did come to the island knowing that the service wouldn't be as expected here in the states, but I have to say - any time we asked for anything, it felt like we were asking the server or hostess for a BIG favor. This is not something you like to feel while you are on a vacation!

We did do the Polynesian dinner on Tuesday night, but - again - service was terribly slow. We asked for water from three different waitresses that came by and we literally waited thirty minutes until any came out (our first course was served and our wine before they finally brought out the water). We also had to wait an extremely long time for our check to arrive before it did. Granted, we were on vacation (so what is the hurry?), but it becomes tedious when you are waiting... and waiting... and waiting for everything!

We also had a problem with our television. ESPN had been frozen for three days, and my husband and I were hoping to catch some of the playoff games one afternoon before going out for dinner. That morning, we had asked the front desk if they could take a look at it after breakfast, and the hostess remarked that she would send someone "right away". We waited for an hour, and no one showed up. Then we rang reception and the next woman said, "I will send someone right away." After another hour, I called a second time and that same woman said "Ahh, I had called them. I will call and ask what the holdup is." She then returned our call and said that someone had actually been sent there earlier in the morning before we got back from breakfast and that it was working fine (wouldn't they have told her that the first time she called?). I looked over at the frozen television and confirmed for her that no, it was still not working properly. Finally, someone was sent out and they determined it was a network problem, and it was fixed another hour later.

Be forewarned also that housekeeping comes in announced. You will get a very quick knock and an immediate opening of the door right after (just something to keep in mind!). We also were delivered only decaf coffee for our coffee maker by housekeeping (even after leaving a note in french to please leave regular) and they also did not regularly replace used shampoos/conditioners/lotions, and we had to ask for them all.

One of the things we were pleasantly surprised with was with the quality of our dinner the last night before leaving on a Friday night. We had visited many other restaurants while on the island (including the St. Regis, which by FAR had some of the best service on the island), and decided we just wanted to keep it simple that night and stay as close as possible to our room. We had a wonderful server from Spain who helped us navigate the menu (she openly discouraging us from items she didn't care for - noting that the gazpacho "wouldn't be what I thought it was",etc.). I ended up getting the tuna tartar and my husband and I shared the ribeye for dinner. THE MEAL WAS DELICIOUS. After the disappointing display at lunch and the average breakfast, we were blown away by HOW GOOD the food was!

Some additional perks: free snorkeling equipment for the duration of your stay, the folks at the spa (especially Virginie) were amazing and really take their time with you, and the location was really perfect. They also gave us a very warm goodbye with shell necklaces and stood on the dock waiving as we departed.

This was, despite minor inconveniences, a lovely memory. I do wish however that we had put more money behind this part of our stay and gone with the St. Regis or Four Seasons instead.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Blueslady442
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 16, 2013
I read attentively all your comments and your feed back is very instructive. Thank you. the food and beverage department must provide a highly consistant service, taste and product, like the one you experiencedon your last night diner. But i can feel some inconsistancy for luch or breakfast in a period of time when we have some key people in holiday. You can be sure that we will consder this situation very seriously.
Thank youfor your comment on our location, welcoming, room and for your recommandation about having a small store, this is something we are considering as well for 2013.
Thank you for choosing us for your honeymoon trip and i would like to wish you hapiness and success all along your new life!
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New York City, New York
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed January 11, 2013

We chose Sofitel for several reasons: privacy, proximity to shops and restaurants, ease of travel from Motu to mainland and good snorkeling. After reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided that even if the service was as bad as many reviews claimed they were, we were not travelling there to be pampered - we were there for the view and the water.

I need to be clear that in the reasons stated above Sofitel was an excellent choice. There were times when we felt like we were the only ones on the Motu. Breakfast was quiet there were rarely people on the beach or in the water and although it never felt deserted we definitely feel like it lived up to its secluded private island type vibe it is known for.

Regarding proximity to shops and restaurants on the mainland, we went to the market a couple of times. This is really the equivalent of a large convenience store and sold frozen items, really great French cheeses, cold cuts, and baguettes as well as sodas beers and wines boxed goods like cookies condiments like yummy French mustards and jams all at fairly decent prices. They also had a fair selection of toiletries and plastic dish and flatware and sunblock at inflated prices. I highly recommend reading up on this subject in the tripadvisor forums as they are an invaluable wealth of information on food costs restaurants and other such information when using the search function.

Something worth mentioning here is that there is no sidewalk, shoulder or streetlights on the five minute walk to and from Sofitel's mainland resort and the nearby market and restaurants. I wasn't expecting this and it is a little unnerving walking along that road whether in the daylight or at night. Just be aware that if you're going to make this walk there are a couple of bends in the road where you cannot see oncoming traffic (and they certainly cannot see you) and you are surrounded by the high walls of the resort. I mention this only because I hadn't seen anything about this in the forums or reviews and it is something to be aware of but in no way deterred us from going to the market or trying to eat at the restaurants nearby (the two nights we tried La Bounty it was closed and the pizza place only took cash, which we hadn't thought to bring that evening)

On those nights, we ended up at the hotel bar ("Hurricane Bar") where we had a few beers, people watched, talked to the really kind bar staff and snacked on appetizers. The food at the bar is very limited and pretty comparable to the types of frozen appetizers you'd find at Costco/supermarkets. I'm not saying it was bad (although the one main dish my husband tried - pasta with chicken- was pretty bland), but the food at this bar was pretty forgettable. An example of great service: the awesome bartender gave us the extra frozen cocktail she made for a guest in the restaurant after she saw my husband eyeing it - the "bora blue"obsession was born! Ok maybe obsession is a strong word but she did offer us another one free of charge we came back the second night (La Bounty was inexplicably closed again) - and we had fun at the bar watching the Polynesian show and eating appetizers and desserts in the bar!

And this brings me to the unexpectedly awesome service and kind warmth we encountered at the Sofitel. It was unexpected because of the many negative reviews we read stating the service was no good. Since this seemed to be a common denominator in all of the negative reviews we reasoned that the service must be ok but not great ( since we already knew that in terms of service and food you don't get what you pay for in French Polynesia). We figured some of these bad reviews had to be written by travelers who hadn't done research on the culture there and were expecting super service ( and I don't fault anyone who is looking for super service for the amount paid its just that since we have travelled a lot at all price points and in many countries we are aware that value and service and quality are all variable instead of uniform). Anyways we were mightily surprised by the attention to detail of the waitstaff in the Motu restaurant on the day we arrived and departed and each day at breakfast. We were greeted with warm smiles and hearty hellos every single time and offers of coffee or tea at breakfast. By the second day, the motherly server in the restaurant knew which one of us preferred coffee and which preferred tea and presented us with a basket full of our preferred assorted breads, rolls and croissants shortly after we found our seats.

The day we arrived around 2pm we went to the restaurant for a late lunch. The prices were high for burgers but they had tasty huge sandwiches for 900xpf on crusty warm baguettes. They were served in a paper wrapper to be taken back to your bungalow or enjoyed at the table. Best deal at the Sofitel!

On our last day we dutifully checked out at 11am (the hotel was fully booked and another guest would be checking into our bungalow that day so we couldn't get late check out). They told us to come back to the motu after our day on the mainland so we could shower etc. They told us the bathroom there was much nicer than the one at the mainland - and they were right. At that point, we were going to be heading for the mainland to go rent a car to drive around the island. We inquired about whether the shuttle was docked/would be arriving soon. She said it just left and called on the radio to make sure. She then told us the shuttle driver had just left but would turn around and come back for us. When we boarded the shuttle, there was already a couple on board who confirmed that the shuttle driver had turned around just for us. This was so unexpectedly nice of them - especially since we had already checked out - we really weren't expecting this type of service and attention to detail since the majority of trip advisor reviews did not indicate it, it was such a pleasant surprise.

After our day of sightseeing, we went back to the motu and settled in for our wait for the airport shuttle. The motu restaurant had closed, but they ushered us in there to wait, offered us drinks and let us subsist on a bottle of water and an hour's worth of internet. One of the employees kept coming by every 15 minutes to update us about the shuttle. About 15 minutes prior to our departure time, the same employee came by to let us know the shuttle was running 10 minutes late and apologized but assured us the plane would wait for us. The shuttle did arrive 10 minutes late, but she came back again to let us know when to go down and wait, so our departure went really smoothly.

We had overwater bungalow #126. This room was closer to the side of the mainland but it had zero view of Mt Otemanu. The room itself was well maintained. I can see how some reviews have mentioned it looks outdated. I wouldn't necessarily agree with this although some updates can be made to the fabrics and desk chair. The teak wood is so very Polynesian and charming. If you find that outdated I would definitely recommend the Thalasso, Four Seasons or St Regis for a more contemporary decor style. We had previously stayed at the Pearl in Moorea and I did find that resort to be more updated while keeping the Polynesian style so I do think Sofitel has room for improvement. Unfortunately, the bathroom is where the Sofitel goes from 5 to 4 stars for me. The bathroom here is split into three sections: the main part is the biggest and contained a double sink and ample counter space. The mirrors above the sinks are framed with mother of pearl or shell rectangle pieces. Some of these pieces were missing, which gives the bathroom a slight air of neglect, but in general we were happy with this main part. The toilet area was a little less appealing. The modern frosted glass door that separates this area from where the sinks are is misleading - you expect a modern space behind that modern frosted door but it was greatly in need of an update - everything was clean don't get me wrong but the wooden toilet paper holder was a little chunky and didn't fit in and the white woven wall covering was frayed and bubbling in some areas. The shower area was on the other side of the bathroom. We loved the rain showerhead and the shower itself is a generous size. The thing that made me dislike the bathroom was not the missing decorative pieces around the mirrors or the frayed wall covering that bubbled in certain spots and should probably not have been such a bright unforgiving white color - no, the thing that made me dislike the bathroom was the mold spotting in the gap between the shower tile and where it met the frosted glass shower door. Unfortunately you can see it when the door is shut. I reminded myself that in such a humid tropical open air bathroom (there are small windows for ventilation in the bathroom in the overwater bungalows) there is bound to be this type of thing, but having stayed at the spotlessly clean Pearl in Moorea I can fairly compare the two and say that whoever designed the bathroom chose fixtures that don't fit the open air humid climate - even the slate tile floors felt a bit gummy from the heat. So although maintenance could be stepped up with regard to the mold I kind of think that maybe the slate floor, the woven white wall covering the high maintenance mother of pearl lined mirrors and the heavy glass shower door make it incredibly difficult to clean the place!

Overall, we loved the Sofitel and were so happy with our choice. We were not interested in staying in a resort which hundreds of overwater bungalows or a 20 minute shuttle to the mainland. We loved the quiet, secluded feel of the Sofitel Motu. The service was excellent and we felt so at home here. The views on the hilltop were amazing and our bungalow was so cozy. As mentioned above, one point off for the bathroom - but we would not hesitate to stay here again if our travels took us back to Bora Bora. We stayed there many many months ago but not a day goes by that I don't think back to that amazing vacation, that gorgeous blue water and the warmth of the service we encountered, we had an unforgettable stay at the Sofitel.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank travel_gnome33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 14, 2013
The best way to thank you for your "So great" comment is to add the one i just received by mail to confirm your experience:

"The choice: Heaven? or Bora Bora?
Not ready for heaven..the winner get to Bora Bora.
Here is What's What according to me: Clarification:
Regarding arriving by plane from Papeete
(Pronounced Papa ette tay, repeat several times slowly and then speed it up).
After landing, Scoop up your bags.
and its a stone's throw walk to the boat dock where you
can get a free ferry to the one block town of Viatape, and then
pay for a taxi (around $20) to your hotel IF its located on the main island.
Or put yourself on a clearly marked boat with the name of your Luxury Hotel
Some hotels are located on the separated vegetated reef called a Motu on the east side
of the main island and facing it ( St Regis, Four Seasons, etc)
Other hotels are on the main island( Intercontinental, Sofitel, Matira),
(the Hilton is on its own little motu island)...
As far as I can tell the difference in price between hotels is: the amount of luxury
based on the bluer and the turquoisey the water and the more privacy,
(along with the bigger bungalow,and better bath products and attention)...
Hotel sight seeing for comparison walks is not
encouraged or easy here...and next to impossible between the motu, and island
unless you rent a boat.

The difference between the Sofitel Marara Beach and the Sofitel Private Island
is that originally they were two different resorts,
..The Marara Beach is on the main island of Bora Bora and the Private Island is in the middle of the water separated by a two minute motor boat ride. Both look at each other, and are administered by Sofitel. My husband and I stayed at both resorts. Both resorts have over the water bungalows (OWB's )and land bungalows,good beds, good pillows, very soft soft towels, hair dryers, irons, and superb service of people who go out of their way to try to please you. The delicious french bread, and food is very good served on soft table linens and very similar in both resorts: pricey but not totally outrageous in comparison to any luxury hotel in any major international city.
If you stay on the Private Island which has bluer more turquoisey water, bigger bungalows(double sink bathrooms), then you can -if you choose to, take the
shuttle motor boat to the Marara, vice versa requires a reservation request for dinner or additional priced pass. Both resorts provide free snorkeling equipment, and the snorkeling is great in one part on the Private Island. On the other hand, it's possible to pay for a day pass from the Marara beach to a nearby island to go snorkeling and have a super experience. The Marara has a swimming pool and is handicap accessible. The Private Island doesn't and isn't. If you have bad knees or are recovering from hip surgery the Private Island may not be such a good idea for you, because there are A Lot of uneven lava stone steps.... But so-so knees are okay, just walk prudently.
Either way we were thrilled to be on Bora Bora, And the Sofitel worked within our budget ranges. We originally booked the lagoon view bungalow, which was fine, right on the beautiful beach (best) of the Marara Beach and I think it was a good choice for us. Because it was low season we were upgraded to a over the water bungalow, ( definitely nicer, especially for my husband who liked feeding the fish over the balcony railing, and hanging out on a lounge chair on the private balcony, if that's important.) All bungalows of every price range have outside lounge chairs. Over the water are more private,and yes nicer. About two blocks from the Marara ( turn left leaving) is a supermarket in case you need anything. Wifi is run by a private company and therefore you log on thru them(anytime minutes that can be used as wished $5 per hour, but its slow so don't plan on working here unless its on an expense account.
Summary:
Sofitel Marara Beach Resort: The main hotel, has more people more variable price choices of accommodations, has some bungalows close to the road,but also OWB's good congregating swimming pool, and beautiful beach,( you can do a little snorkeling especially if you take some bread, you don't necessarily need rubber shoes on this one. It has easier access-and a little more happening.
Sofitel Private Island: A Very Deluxe Luxury hotel, quieter, bigger bungalows, more fancy no swimming pool, ( most people swim off their private bungalow balcony ladders in shallow getting deeper outrageously gorgeous turquoise water, there are a couple of small sand beaches, and one very good snorkeling area on rocks, tuff terraine if bad knees, or needing handicap access. Both Resorts have good food good drinks, and people who want to please you. Almost everyone here is trilingual (Tahitian,French,English).
One more thing don't pack as many clothes as you think you need. Tommy Bahama type lite wear works well here, hold-on strap type sandals for swimming, sunscreen, (for gals: 2-3 bathing suits, 3 sundresses,2 cover shirts or blouses so you don't get burnt, a pareo, teeshirt hat...for guys: 2 bathing suits, 2 shorts, 1 long kakis, nylon fishing shirt, Hawaiian shirt, polo and two tea shirts should do it.) And be prepared, for not wanting to leave."

Thank you for you both!
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Las Vegas, Nevada
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2013

My wife and I spent three nights here with our two daughters (13 & 14 years old). This was the last stop of our 2 1/2 weeks in French Polynesia. The view of the island from our room was amazing. The restaurant was solid, the spa was perfect - in a bungalow right on the ocean. This is a small, intimate hotel with plenty of personal service. The one issue was the transfer from the airport to the hotel. It was a mess. The hotel representative at the airport was in over her head - and it took us hours to get to the hotel. We watched in envy as guests of the Four Seasons and the Pearl were whisked off in a private boat moments after arriving. Be sure to nail down your transportation from the airport when booking. Despite this, I would certainly stay here again.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank USAway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 14, 2013
Thank you for your great comment. I knew about our maid who did not knock at the door, even if she apologize this has been fixed.
I hope to have the pleasure to welcome you back to be able to provide another great experience in paradise!
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Seattle, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2013

We stayed here in 2011 for our honeymoon. The location is awesome and do walk to the top of the private island and watch the sunrise. It was very romantic. We stayed in a cottage room. it was spacious and had a balcony. You can rent kayaks and snorkel gear for free and go to the reef which is right next to the private island. This is the best location!
I gave it 4 stars due to the lack of respect for privacy by housekeeping. They would barge in disregarding the DND sign & without knocking! The first day my husband was in the shower and I had gone to the beach. She did apologize for walking in on my husband like that....but that was embarrassing. This should not have happened in a hotel that charges so much!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Diana M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 25, 2013
Thank you for sharing your experience, since then training has been implemented again to make sure all our standards are fully followed up with all our ambassadors working with us at Sofitel.
Thank you for your fidelity and for your stay with us at Bora Bora!
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Tinsukia, Assam, India
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed December 2, 2012

Hi,
This is my first ever review. I was in french polynesia for a week for my honeymoon. I was booked at the sofitel bora bora marara beach@ luxury beach bungalow . When I checked In at the sofItel desk at the bora bora airport, to my pleasant surprise I found out that I had been upgraded to the private island with compliments from the manager of the hotel.
The ferry ride from the airport to the private island "motu" was Devine . cuttIng through the Clear turquoise waters. When we landed on the motu pier we were greeted by a lovely lady and 2 men dressed in Tahitian costume playIng a guitar like instrument. They welcomed us flower garlands and coconut water.
The resort looked even more beautifull at sunset. Our room was on the hillside overlooking the lagoon. A few steps to clImb to a very spacious room with a big balcony overlooking the beach and the lagoon. The room itself was reasonably big with a 3 seater couch a king size bed and a 2 sink bathroom. The two separate enclosers for the bath and toilet were small but went well with the room.
If u climb a few more steps you will reach the highlight of the softiel motu, ie the sunset viewing point. (Definitely worth the climb). Stunninglying beautifull views of the sunset with champagne.
The only downside of this beautifull elegant hotel is the cost of meals. If u compare it with the quality of food they offer , some may say it's fine , but still it'sa tad bit over priced.
The bar is next to a small but beautifully placed water fall, the sound of the waterfall at sunset with a glass of chateaux is something to cherish.
Overall a lovely hotel with lovely welcoming staff . Definitely worth a second visit.
Abhishek Agarwal

  • Stayed November 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank abhishek_agarwaltsk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Didier L, Directeur général at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, responded to this review, January 28, 2013
That was our pleasure to upgrade you in our Private island at the exceptionnal time you came over to Bora Bora and we are happy you loved it!
Everything is a true experience from airport departure with our private boat until the arrival with music and much more surpises at the pontoon!
Sunset on the top of the hill with a 360 degres view of the island of Bora Bora, the lights coming up as the the night is coming and the walk down to the beach for a romantic dinner with our candle ritual is just magic...... We are happy we could share these magical moment with you! Wewait for you for asecond visit! let us know!!!!
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Additional Information about Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island

Property: Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island
Address: Bp 516, 98730, French Polynesia
Phone Number:
Location: French Polynesia > Society Islands > Bora Bora
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 17 Hotels in Bora Bora
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island 4.5*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Overlooking one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world, Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island is located in the heart of the exceptional Matira Bay, nestled on a private islet facing the main island of Bora Bora. A secret hideaway where you can enjoy a peaceful and romantic retreat, regenerate yourself and savour the exquisite feeling of being at home on your own private island. This boutique hotel is emphasizing privacy and intimacy to create a unique experience in the heart of native vegetation surrounded by turquoise water and beautiful coral gardens. ... more   less 
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