Hotel Guide: St. Regis Bora Bora
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Tahiti is not the easiest place to get to, and the resort haven of Bora Bora is located on a separate island from the international airport at Papeete, requiring an additional flight. Once here, however, it's a luxe paradise with unending views and turquoise water.
Marriott Bonvoy fans may dream of the St. Regis Bora Bora as a popular spot for redeeming points — and you'll want to come with plenty, as the food and beverage scene at this secluded resort is pricey.
Here's what you can expect from a stay given this St. Regis Bora Bora guide.
» Learn more: The best ways to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points
Where is St. Regis Bora Bora located? In the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. Tahiti — the largest island within the country of French Polynesia — offers a spectacular landscape as the resort's backdrop, with towering mountains, swaying palm trees and an unending blue ocean. Due to its romantic views, it's a popular honeymoon spot, but you'll want to factor in jet lag given the long flights and time zone changes.
A boat transfer is required from Bora Bora airport to get to St. Regis in Bora Bora; you should pay around $60 one-way for this service.
The property is laid out across a sandy island, with some accommodations on the beach while gardens surround others. The most prized accommodations are the overwater villas, which are reached by a raised walkway that juts out into the sea. Pathways connect the rooms and suites with the property's restaurants, spa, pool and other areas.
You can borrow a bike to cycle around, travel on foot (wear sunscreen!) or request a buggy ride from a staff member. It feels like you are indeed out in nature here.
The architecture is somewhat tropical with a rustic island look, which you might not expect when thinking of the St. Regis brand. Though the property is very thoughtfully designed, you should expect to do a lot of walking here. Many of the resort's public areas are outdoors.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of wear and tear that needs to be addressed, and the resort appears a bit dated in places. Still, most travelers come here to enjoy the scenery and ocean, and neither disappoints.
Food and beverage
Since you'd require a boat to leave the property, most guests have all of their meals here, which can really add up. Ingredients and supplies are understandably expensive in such a remote location, but the quality is high, especially its fresh seafood and fruit.
The resort has four restaurants and a bar, providing plenty of international variety even for more extended stays. One of the most celebrated establishments is Lagoon Restaurant by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which serves an Asian fusion menu at dinner most nights. This is a great place to come for pre-dinner cocktails, too, as it has one of the best views on the resort. Like many of the overwater villas, the restaurant has glass panels on the floor so you can see what's swimming just below you. Bam Boo is another Asian venue (also only open for dinner) that serves tasty sushi and sashimi, among other things.
The Polynesian fare at Te Pahu is a great way to sample local, traditional cooking at dinner, and this is where open-air breakfast is served each morning. Far Niente serves Italian meals at dinnertime, and there is a separate popular cocktail bar at sunset. The lounge between the main pool and beach serves lighter fare and drinks throughout the day. Of course, room service is always a treat — the staff can even arrange for your breakfast to arrive by canoe at your overwater bungalow.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite members and above can select breakfast for two in the restaurant as one of their benefits.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program
Like all St. Regis hotels, this property has a bespoke bloody mary cocktail — this one is made with watermelon juice. It is said that a bartender at St. Regis in New York invented the bloody mary, and now all St. Regis properties around the world put their spin on it.
The resort hosts beach barbecues some days and themed restaurant nights, including Indian, seafood, and Polynesian, with an accompanying dance show.
The rooms (well, suites) are the star of the show here and you may not want to leave some of them. According to the hotel, these are the largest overwater villas in the South Pacific.
Since the prices are quite high, many guests spend a few nights in a traditional villa on the island and then splurge a little to book an overwater villa.
Though it can be a pain to unpack and repack, these rooms really offer two different experiences that can be worth trying.
Reefside garden villas near the beach are popular with families, while the beachside villas will give you direct access to the beach. These feature spacious indoor and outdoor living areas and huge bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs. There's also an outdoor shower, which can be an entertaining experience.
Overwater villas are graded based on their views; lagoon views are popular, but those with mountains in the distance are even more expensive. There are several multi-bedroom villas, and most come with private pools.
Inside, the tropical decor pairs well with the hardwood floors, and the overwater villas have a unique feature with glass panels on the floor in some areas, so you can watch the marine life swim below. Butler service, a brand standard, can attend to your every need, from making restaurant reservations to delivering complimentary coffee or tea at any time.
There are two swimming pools at the resort, including one with a swim-up bar and another reserved for adults with private cabanas. A fitness center is open at all hours (helpful if your body clock is out of whack), and the Iridium Spa is located on its own private island.
The concierge can help organize many watersport activities, tours and other attractions. In addition, the resort offers complimentary non-motorized watersports like paddleboarding and kayaking, and other activities include snorkeling, swimming with sea life, and reef fishing (to name just a few).
How to get to St. Regis Bora Bora
Several U.S. airlines and accompanying airline alliances have some presence or partnership in Tahiti.
American Airlines. Air Tahiti Nui is Tahiti's primary carrier, and it flies from Los Angeles (and soon Seattle) to Papeete. As an American AAdvantage partner, members can redeem AAdvantage miles for an Air Tahiti Nui flight or earn miles as long as the ticket is booked as an AA codeshare via Air Tahiti Nui. It costs 40,000 miles each way for economy class or 80,000 each way for business class on the Tahitian airline.
United Airlines. United also flies nonstop from San Francisco, but it is hard to know how many MileagePlus miles you will need for redemption in advance with United's dynamic-based award pricing. We found prices starting at 35,000 miles for an economy class award later this year.
Delta Air Lines. Air France flies nonstop from Los Angeles, giving SkyTeam members a chance to earn and redeem Delta SkyMiles or Flying Blue points.
Once you land in Papeete, you'll need to take a domestic flight on Air Tahiti to reach other islands; these can be pretty expensive, with no easy mileage earning or redemption opportunities. Your best bet is to use credit card points like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards® to pay for that domestic connection.
Photos courtesy of Marriott.
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