Pristine Paradise

Looking for an unspoiled Tahiti of yesteryear? Try Le Taha'a

By: Andrea R. Vaucher

Flying into Bora Bora 25 years ago, I was dazzled by the color of the shallow lagoon; astonishing shades of turquoise and cobalt shimmered between an unbroken expanse of blinding white sand and the protective necklace of coral that shielded the island from the ocean. Iconic motus those tiny Robinson Crusoe islands with their clumps of coconut palms dotted the lagoon, deserted except for maybe a couple of honeymooners.

Today, every Bora Bora motu boasts a hotel a Ritz Carlton and a Four Seasons are presently under construction and over-water bungalows are as rife as Marlon Brando anecdotes.

Despite the phenomenal increase in tourism, Bora Bora is still pristine. To float on one’s back in the lagoon at sunset in the shadow of towering Mount Otemanu is a heart-stopping experience.

But if you have Polynesia-bound clients looking for a place like Bora Bora was before the boom, send them to its southeast island neighbor, Le Taha’a Private Island Resort and Spa.

Since its opening in December 2002, Le Taha’a, the only Relais & Chateaux in Polynesia, has made all the lists and garnered its share of industry honors. And it’s easy to see why.

Le Taha’a’s over-water bungalows facing Bora Bora might just be the most amazing in the Pacific. These eight architectural gems are zen in their simplicity and muted palate; they feature bamboo and slate floors, tamanu wood furniture and details such as canoe-shaped bathtubs and glass-topped bedside tables that open to allow guests to feed the fish below.
These bungalows are identical to the resort’s other 40 over-water units with direct access to the lagoon, a large patio deck with teak lounges and an alfresco dining area under a thatched fare. The rooms not only face Bora Bora’s craggy silhouette, but also a couple of those hard-to-find motus, which look so devastatingly gorgeous backlit by a magenta Polynesian sunset.

The hotel’s Manea Spa, lo-cated in a coconut grove between the lagoon and a lake, offers body and facial treatments incorporating the region’s natural resources of vanilla, tiare, coconut and sandalwood. The treatment rooms are open to the lake, but guests may also opt for pampering on secluded tables outside on the beach.

Le Taha’a is the kind of place where going to the spa might be the most strenuous activity your clients engage in. But, should they prefer, a myriad of recreational options are available including visiting a black pearl farm and a vanilla plantation on the main island of Taha’a, which didn’t even have electricity until 10 years ago.

And 25 years from now, rest assured, your clients will be sharing indelible memories of what it was like on the island of Le Taha’a way back when.