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On my way to the pool at Le Tahaa Island Resort & Spa, I spotted a groundskeeper — tired from his work in the warm French Polynesian sun, he took a big swig from a freshly cut coconut. He posed for a photo, and then immediately grabbed another coconut from the sand, pulled back his machete and cut it open just for me.
This is the kind of warmth and hospitality clients will find at this 57-unit luxury resort, located on the secluded Motu Tautau islet just off Tahaa. The unique Tahitian property is reachable by a 40-minute boat ride from the Raiatea Airport, and the dock is just a few steps from where passengers disembark flights from Tahiti or other area islands. The moment I stepped off the plane, a Le Tahaa representative greeted me with a flower necklace, assisted me with my luggage and escorted me to the boat.
The resort faces the lush island of Tahaa on one side (responsible for more than 80 percent of Tahiti’s vanilla production) and the majestic silhouette of Bora Bora on the other. Inspired by traditional Polynesian architecture and style, the property was built around the existing vegetation and with mostly local materials. Clients will discover old trees, native flowers and plants and a staff mostly made up of native Polynesians.
The property comprises 45 thatched-roof overwater suites, all of them spacious and with wrap-around decks, covered gazebos on the porch and direct access to the crystal-clear water. Each hut features an outdoor shower outside each hut, two chaises for sun bathing and a ladder that leads down to the sea.
Many of the design details throughout the resort were inspired by a Polynesian outrigger canoe. For example, the bungalows are designed with bamboo walls, a shell acts as a drawer handle and the closet door handles are made of rope.
The rooms also feature large windows facing the water with a long wooden bench for premium ocean viewing. At the foot of the bed, a glass-bottom aquarium hinges open for in-room fish feeding (even at night — the water is lit). Televisions, air conditioning and iPod-enabled stereos are also included.
There are also 10 beach villas on the property, each offering a bedroom and a separate living area, private plunge pools, thatched-roof cabanas, outside bathtubs and showers and beachside hammocks. There are also two royal beach villas, each with two bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms/
Dinner and a breakfast buffet are served at Le Vanille, the property’s main restaurant. The dining area has covered and open-air seating — its canopy views make it feel like a treehouse. The scent of vanilla in the air is subtle, but the flavor of the island’s signature spice is irresistible in the butter brought to the table with fresh bread.
Local and international selections focus on fresh ingredients. Every Tuesday night, the resort hosts a Polynesian buffet with Tahitian delicacies, fish cooked to order and a show with authentic entertainment such as ukulele and drumming performances and fire dancing. Resort guests staying during the high season can try out the seasonal and more formal gourmet restaurant, The Ohiri. Reservations are required.
Lunch is served by the small infinity pool and guests dine either in chaise lounges or at the sand-bottomed, thatched-roof restaurant La Plage. The chef’s specialties include colorful salads, grilled fish or meat, sashimi and Tahiti’s renowned “poisson cru,” a salad of raw tuna marinated with vegetables, lime juice and freshly squeezed coconut milk — served in a coconut, of course.
The five-minute boat ride to the village of Tapuamu is free and runs several times per day. Plenty of excursions are offered as well — private island picnics, vanilla plantation tours and helicopter tours to Bora Bora are among the choices. Snorkeling, diving and fishing are common excursions as well, though there’s no need to book an excursion to do some amazing snorkeling. In fact, visitors from other resorts often visit the nearby reef, which Le Tahaa guests can access through the lagoon off of their front decks. Snorkel gear is available at the pool desk and other recreational items are available upon request.
In keeping with the resort’s local tradition, the on-site spa features an extensive menu of treatment options and rooms surrounded by lush flowers and a serene natural environment. Indigenous ingredients are incorporated into spa products: monoi oil made from coconuts, infusions of vanilla, flowers and other local goods.
With its incredible natural surroundings and accommodations, Le Tahaa Island Resort & Spa is perfect for clients looking to get away from it all. It’s also ideal for anyone who prefers their coconut water fresh from the coconut.