You tend to think of over-water villas as an Indian Ocean special but you do find them also in French Polynesia. Take Bora Bora. Girlahead took two quick trips from Windstar Star Breeze while the yacht spent a couple of days anchored off there. First up was
INTERCONTINENTAL RESORT AND THALASSO SPA BORA BORA MOANA BEACH (above), which is actually two properties, the more-relaxed, inclusive to the local village and, 15 minutes away by scheduled boat shuttle, the Thalasso Spa part. Both hotels are run independently, with the more-exclusive Thalasso resort commanding a rate premium of about 25%.
The properties are owned by Tahiti Beachcomber Socièté Anonyme TBSA and managed by Pacific Beachcomber, chaired by Richard Bailey and run to a growing extent by his son Yann, a former banker. Valérie Gachon, trained at HOTEL MARTINEZ in Cannes is GM of both hotels. On a quick tour of the 84-villa resort she showed how over-water Villa 8 has especially stunning views of Mount Otemanau. The property’s signature Thalasso Spa is managed by Deep Ocean, which also manages the spa at THE BRANDO, another Pacific Beachcomber resort.
This is a resort that is commendably environment aware. A pipe, going 3,000 feet into the ocean pumps ice cold, deep sea water through a titanium heat exchanger, transferring the cold into the fresh water circuit that then powers the hotel’s aircon – it saves 90% of entire electricity costs.
Valérie Gachon hosted a lunch in the beach café and thank goodness there was tuna poke on the menu. Really, these composed dishes, protein atop bunches of different veggies and salad stuffs, are most enjoyable.
Next day’s poke was salmon-topped. This was at FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA, sadly not with GM Romain Chanet as he was off-island, talking with officials about something or other. He was also probably recovering having hosted a Four Seasons plane-full of happy Four Seasons world travellers who had flown into Papeete after time on Easter Island. They then had a private plane to Bora Bora island and by the time they arrived they must have been quite tired (they also needed to get ready for their ongoing flight, to Australia).
Four Seasons is owned by Gaw Capital, who, in their home town, are getting ready finally to open the ‘new’ REGENT HONG KONG. They bought this French Polynesian gem, perhaps, at a good rate (a former owner was jailed, but nothing to do with hotels). There are 108 villas, 25 of which have private pools.
A quick tour of the property, including the spa and an island for ‘teen activities’, was enough to convince the need for a return visit, for longer. Girlahead wants to stay in one of the villas, simple affairs with plain wood floor and walls, and woven-palm panels rising to cathedral plain wood walls, floor, and woven-palm ceiling for the cathedral ceilings – see a tour of Villa 507, below. But as all regular travellers can attest, time gets shorter the whole time. Of course there is a wedding chapel. Why NOT come to French Polynesia to tie the knot, or tie it again?