It took a long time for me to decide where to stay in Bora Bora - a place I've always wanted to go. I had narrowed it down to a few resorts and a travel agent helped me to decide that the St. Regis was the place to stay. Taking two girls - ages 14 and 5 - the resort needed to be kid-friendly but I didn't want to sacrifice luxury either. I have stayed at a few St. Regis properties before and always found them to be kid-friendly, yet also very upscale.
One of the main confusions for me was that I didn't realize ahead of time that there are resorts both on the "main" Bora Bora island, and the barrier islands which are only accessible by boat (no roads, or cars, or anything on those islands except the resorts). I am SO glad we didn't stay on main Bora Bora. We took a boat ride there one day from the St. Regis (which provides free boat shuttles for the 15 minute ride), and found it to be very poor and there is nothing in the downtown of interest except one small art gallery (where I did buy a beautiful painting by a local artist). I could see staying on main Bora Bora possibly to save money, but consider that you have to drive by very run-down looking homes and many stray dogs and cats, no that was assurance to me that we'd made the right choice.
That said, staying on the barrier island at the St. Regis, you are pretty much limited to the resort restaurants unless you do want to take the boat ride plus car shuttle to get to a restaurant on main Bora Bora. It's very quiet at night. I liked that, I wanted a trip that was very relaxing, with plenty of water activities. But I overheard some people asking the staff "where are the night clubs" and just giggled to myself. Don't come to Bora Bora for nightlife, there isn't any, you go there for the beauty and the unique experience of staying in an overwater bunglalow.
Not having anything to compare to except exterior views, I think the St. Regis bungalows are probably the BEST you can find! I saw other resorts on main Bora Bora where the bungalows looked small and run down. I knew in advance the bungalows were about 1300 sq ft, with a bedroom separate from the living space. The bathroom though was HUGE and much nicer than I had ever expected. You get what you pay for. The bungalow location I chose (actually the travel agent chose it on my behalf) was on the lagoon side with a mountain view. Best of both worlds! Every morning I put on my bathing suit and jumped into the water. And the water... it is different from anyplace I have ever been. Super clear to the point it you didn't even need to snorkel, just look down to see sting rays and other tropical fish. We also had glass flooring in the living space and other areas, which you could light up at night. But I saw most of the exotic fish under the bridge that connected our bungalow area to the rest of the resort.
The property itself is extremely beautiful and they have a huge staff to maintain it. The food was just so-so and very overpriced, but hey, you aren't there for the food. Foodies don't even bother critiquing the food because it won't hold a candle to other places. This is a very exotic and remote location - it's definitely not about the food. They did have a nice wine list though and I'm not a drinker but had at least one glass of wine every day at the pool bar.
The beach is very nice, probably the only thing that confused me was a lack of service sometimes on the beach. The lounge chairs were fine, but nothing special, and there was no cabana service to set up your chair - also, they had umbrellas but no individual awnings for the chairs. So in some cases you were in full sun when you didn't want to be. I think they could probably add some more services to the beach because most days, no one even came out to offer us a drink or lunch menu. Kind of odd. Yet on other days, they were all over us, even coming out to lend my 5 year old a whole bag of beach toys! It really depended on who was working the beach area I guess. Pool was about the same with regard to service.
Breakfast buffet was very good, but again, sometimes the wait staff just seemed to be in training or didn't speak English. A few times they forgot to bring my tea, very basic stuff like that. I got the impression that they have to hire a certain number of locals (and rightly so), and they probably try to train very fast but maybe there is turnover and they can't help it. You could tell the staff that was truly in the "hospitality industry" - the ones who are relocated every few years to other properties. Those are the ones who truly provide great service, know you by name, and are super friendly, happy to see you, and are very worldly, etc. I've traveled enough to be able to know this after a 2 minute interaction and very much appreciate that kind of staff.
I had absolutely NO major issues at all with this property, I think they do a fabulous job considering this is a remote island and probably very expensive to run and logistically complicated. The St. Regis took care of everything for us, as soon as we arrived at the airport they were there to collect our luggage and load it onto the boat, and also leaving I never touched a thing - they checked in our luggage at the airport after unloading it from the boat.
This was one of the most special experiences of my travel life so far. I can't help but laugh that every day multiple times a day, I was jumping into the water from the bungalow deck.
Since the restaurants were nothing special, most nights I opted to order room service so that it would arrive in time for sunset. Each bungalow has a full sized table on the deck so you have a perfect view while eating.
We were there for a full week, and that was perfect, I would say 5 days would have been fine too. Probably no longer than a week is what I would recommend. Also, being such a large property (it's on 60 acres), they lend you bikes to get around, or you can call for a golf cart ride anywhere, or you can walk like I did. I liked the exercise and walking around. My kids liked riding bikes so they did that. I think the bike idea is great though!
As a side note, they have free childcare, I only used it once. The person at the childcare center was not really too interactive with my child. Also, my child was always the only one there, so really it was not too exciting for her. I preferred to do things with my kids since it was to be that kind of vacation anyway.
I can't give it less than 5 stars, the trip was expensive but the location, the bungalows, and the services they provided to make us comfortable were totally worth it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The exclusive St. Regis Bora Bora is 44-acre island resort located in Polynesian paradise. Our elite accommodation features the 13,000 sq ft Miri Miri spa and Lagoon Restaurant by Jean Georges. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The St. Regis Bora Bora Hotel Bora Bora
- St Regis Hotel Bora
- St Regis Bora Bora
- St Regis Resort Bora Bora