French Polynesia was last month voted by influential Condé Nast Traveler as the world’s most friendly nation, and this shows at every level. You might well run into the nation of islands’ President, Edouard Fritsch, and if you do he’ll treat you as a long-lost friend, and perhaps invite you to his official palace, built 1868 for the resident French General. The evening he threw last Saturday was so special, over 190 passengers and officials from Windstar Star Breeze invited to have bespoke Robert Wan black-pearl bracelets made. There was plenty of rum punch and a highly impressive Wan show, slim-line models in black, shades and contortions of the black pearl spectrum.
Coming ashore the following more could have been a caterpalt coming back down to earth, but it wasn’t a let down. Far from it. Timing coincided with the regular Sunday brunch at INTERCONTINENTAL TAHITI RESORT AND SPA (above, the view from starter room 355). The volume was such that even those staying In one of the 15 overwater villas would have been hard-pressed to concentrate on anything but the music (throughout the resort, connectivity is good enough you to work outside on your villa’s 13.6sq m deck, looking across 11km of pale turquoise water at the jagged wooded mountain skyline of Moorea0. All 263 rooms, on land or over-water, have big work tables and more than ample European and US sockets, and USB ports.
The islands’ history resonates in different ways (keep off nuclear tests and colonialisation that required kids to speak French, not Tahitian). Instead, learn the lore of generations by dance. It’s everywhere, and if are interested chat to one of the hotel’s superb concierges, Teva Lai Mink, who has been dancing since he was eight. In final practice for one of the many dance competitions, he somehow manages to practise, at full-sweat intensity, 2.5 hours a day, weekends included (some routines are mixed, others are men only). There are elaborate dinner-dance shows at the Intercon’s Te Tiara pool-side restaurant most Fridays.
The hotel is, like The Brando, part of Pacific Beachcomber (listen, below, to Brando’s confidant and founding Chairman of Pacific Beachcomber, Richard Bailey). Of course there’s a Tiki Bar, elaborate cocktails à la Trader Vic’s. Three massive pools also have bars. Most sophisticated is Le Lotus, which accompanies Le Lotus restaurant where dishes like lightly-seared tuna with lobster raviolo are designed by French celeb chef Bruno Oger (pair this with a Tahitian rosé, made by one of the many French who arrive on holiday and stay. At some point don’t miss that island staple, a Poke bowl, rice plus protein plus veg.
And after a good night’s sleep, it’s breakfast at Te Tiara. A kaleidoscope of local fruits, in season, can be followed by whatever, including rather-heavy coconut bread. On any Sunday, by the way, reserve ahead. The restaurant fills up with about 500 locals attracted by the buffet and, yes, another and very raucous dance show. There’s something about grinning grown men dressed in feathers or straw, with at least one limb completely personalised with historic tattoos, that attracts all ages – and when the noise finally subsides you might even go back to work. WFH. Work From Heaven.