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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
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
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
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.