Overwater villas come with a living room. // © 2014 Kenneth Shapiro
Feature image (above): Most of the units at the St. Regis Bora Bora are overwater villas. // © 2014 Starwood Hotels & Resorts World Wide
Tahiti is a perennially popular destination for luxury travel, and at the top of the islands’ upscale offerings is the St. Regis Bora Bora, which many consider to be one of the best resorts anywhere in the world.
Nearly all of the 100 units at the St. Regis are overwater villas (a few are beach villas), and they range from about 1,550 square feet to the 13,000-square-foot presidential Royal Estate. The larger overwater units — with two or more bedrooms — feature terrace whirlpools or private plunge pools.
I stayed in a standard villa on a recent visit, and it was hard to imagine wanting more. The villa featured a large comfortable bedroom, with a canopy bed, a flat-screen television, an easy chair with an ottoman and more. The villa also had a living room with another flat-screen television and a dining table. The spacious bathroom had dual sinks, a sunken tub and an open rain shower in the middle of the room. The French-Polynesian-inspired decor featured dark wood and marble, with colorful upholstery and pops of color to brighten the mood. A glass window on the floor provided underwater viewing day and night, and a cleverly designed coffee table in the living room doubled as another glass window to the lagoon below.
Outside, there was plenty of private space as well: a large terrace with lounge chairs, a gazebo dining area and a shower to wash off after a swim in the ocean. My bungalow faced Mount Otemanu, and there was nothing better than jumping off the deck into the clear blue water just as the setting sun cast shadows on the mountain peak.
Because the resort’s 100 bungalows are fairly spread out, guests can use complimentary bicycles to get around, or staff in golf carts will transport them anywhere they want to go. This is just one of the many services provided by the staff at the resort — which has a three-to-one, staff-to-guest ratio. Every unit at the resort has access to a personal butler who can help with dinner and spa reservations, handle excursions and take care of any other guest needs.
The food at the St. Regis is all top-notch, with a European flair. Te Pahu is the main restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in an open beachside setting. Two specialty restaurants include Sushi Take, the first sushi restaurant on all of Bora Bora, and Far Niente Ristorante, which presents a flavorful selection of sophisticated Italian cuisine. But the dining superstar on property is Lagoon By Jean-Georges, featuring breathtaking views of Mount Otemanu and the world-famous cuisine of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Dishes here are amazing, but it’s also worth eating at the restaurant just to check out the glass floor that enables diners to view sharks swimming in an enclosed pen underneath the restaurant.
Amenities at the resort include several pools; a 24-hour fitness center; tennis courts; a beach with complimentary watersports, including stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing; and a wedding boutique. Tell clients to check out the special sunscreen selection near the main pool.
The Miri Miri Spa by Clarins is located in the resort’s Lagoonarium. The spa faces a lagoon and grassy area with views of Mount Otemanu; the setting is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies and other special events.
Besides the spa, at the Lagoonarium guests can snorkel with tropical fish and observe shark feedings at scheduled times throughout the day.
Based on how spoiled you feel once you get there, it’s easy to think of a stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, after sampling the resort’s hospitality, it’s hard not to be disappointed staying anywhere else.