ʻIa ora na (Hello in Tahitian), Readers!
Recently we wrote about how much we love our travel agent, Stacy Small and why we won’t leave home without her (helping to plan our travel). Stacy is the one who helped guide us into the most perfect honeymoon we could have ever dreamed of. The Four Seasons Bora Bora is as luxurious as it gets, and we’re SO thankful and blessed to have experienced that first-hand. From the moment our plane touched down at BOB we were greeted with leis and quickly shuttled in a glamourous wood-paneled boat to the resort– it was top-notch from then on.
The arrival pavilion is stunning. When the shuttle boats tie up dockside and you off-load there is a giant coral chandelier greeting you, high up, so grand and beautiful with the reception and concierge desks just below and off to the sides of it. We were lucky enough to score one of the overnight flights, gaining us the privilege of arriving in the mid-morning so we weren’t waisting an entire day traveling. When we arrived, since we were early and our room wasn’t quite ready, our personal guest experience manager (Sonia Richard) greeted us and took us for a small bite to eat while explaining that we were welcome to use anything and everything the resort has to offer while waiting for our room to be prepared. I hoped right on that one and headed for the spa. I was one worn-out bride and in need of some immediate relaxation and that’s JUST what I got. Their spa is transcending and an experience that you cannot miss (at least twice while you’re there). Brendan headed for the pool and beach, he was dying to get into the cool-aid colored water. After just an hour or two our room was ready and it was BEYOND worth the little bit of waiting we had to do.
There are two sets of pontoons at the resort, each has two pontoons that spout off in a separate direction, creating these “Y” shapes (see here in the resort’s online photo gallery) from an over head view. Because of Stacy, the incredible staff at the resort and maybe just some pure luck, we were blessed with and upgraded to the most incredible bungalow. We had a full view of Mount Otemanu, our very own plunge pool on our deck, where we could jump off right into the water, a massive bathtub and views for days…just beyond words.
Knowing that we were going to spend much of this vacation as a honeymoon should be spent; relaxing, I tried to curb my planner instincts and only setup a couple dinners off of the resort. This became very easy since the resort itself offers two incredible restaurants for dinner (Sunset Bar & Arii Moana) each night and two different restaurants for lunch (Tere Nui & Fare Hoa Beach Bar). Not to mention the practically-anything-you-could-want room service menu.
[Smartest Tip: Food and beverages in Bora Bora are not inexpensive. Knowing our love for wine and that we wanted to drink nothing but what we love on our honeymoon, we purchased THE BEST idea for traveling to places that will allow you to bring it in. www.thewinecheck.com sells a padded case with the cardboard and styrofoam insert to safely transport your precious bottles from point A to B-- best $60 ever spent! All wines arrived safe and sound, plus tasted great! While we consumed the majority of our bottles in our room, the resort as well as the restaurants of Bora Bora are very open to bringing your own wine and charge very small corkage fees. Best part was, when we were finished with all the wine, we left the insert and cardboard in Bora Bora and folded up the padded case and stowed it in one of our other bags for the trip home. Easy-peasy. Costs for each airline varies but with united it was checked free from SFO to LAX and then from LAX to PPT we paid $75 for an extra checked bag (just under 50 lbs...which is what a case weighs- perfect, right!?) and then we purchased an upgraded weight ticket from PPT to BOB for an additional $25 or so. All in all, it cost us about $100 to get all of our favorite wines to Bora Bora with us, undamaged and making our experience THAT much better! SCORE!]
Beyond all the fresh and delicious things to eat, fancy cocktails with little umbrellas and lounging poolside, on your bungalow deck (for more privacy) or on the beach, there are a hundred and one (probably more) activities the concierge staff can arrange for you during your stay. We first decided on the jet-ski tour around the entire island. SO worth it. It’s the #1 activity that I would highly recommend. We had a blast and were with a group of 3 other couples, guided by a local who knew great places to take us and explained a bit about each area we stopped. Even though I’m now partial to the motu on side of the island where we stayed, touring around the entire thing and seeing all the other resorts was great. We also booked what they call a photo safari; it was a private charted boat (with an outstanding captain, Simon is his name– ask for him!) that took us to all the most beautiful spots around Bora Bora at sunset. Simon is also a wonderful photographer, with a great camera who captured some of our most treasured shots. We also stopped at a private beach for another little photo session and Simon popped open a bottle of champagne for us, right there, at sunset. It was straight out of a movie, I swear.
Since this blog is primarily food driven, I must share one of the most magical parts of this trip with you, La Villa Mahana. The only thing I can compare it to would be the French Polynesian, much more casual cousin to the French Laundry. Chef and owner Damien Rinaldi-Dovio seats 7 tables per evening and personally explains his two different pre-fixe menus and their details, takes your order, prepares your meal and proudly serves each dish, course by course. Chef Damien and I had been emailing back and forth for quite sometime (you need to book your reservation nearly 8-10 months in advance) and he was so very proud to present two large foie steaks to me; patting me on the back, winking and saying “since you cannot have it at home any longer”. What a sweet guy! You can tell every dish is made with his love for the art that he has mastered. While Villa Mahana is pricey, it’s not French Laundry pricey… so book it!
Restaurants like Villa Mahana and others that are popular like Saint James and Bloody Mary’s are on the actual island of Bora Bora. The Four Seasons has shuttle boats that take you right to the dock where the restaurants send cars to pick you up and take you to the restaurant and then again, the same thing when you’re finished dining. It’s a very well-oiled machine and a quick, comfy ride.
The other dining experience that just sent us over the moon was the reservation Stacy was able to score at Jean Georges Lagoon Restaurant at the neighboring St. Regis Bora Bora resort. Since we were not guests of the resort, it seemed almost impossible to get in, however; Stacy being Stacy, waved her magic wand and poof– we were there, sitting on a clear glass floor, dinning over a shark tank, YES SHARK TANK (it took me about 20 min and a few glasses of wine before I was comfortable sitting there). The food was great, as expected, and the night got even better when we went just outside of the restaurant and sat on their lower deck, looking out over the lagoon with lights shining under the water so you could see all the fish swimming about. Another perfect, romantic, unforgettable evening.
On our second to last day at the resort, I booked us two Balinese massages. Let me tell you, we can both say these were the best massages we have ever gotten and we’re pretty convinced we’ll have to go back to receive anything comparable ever again. We suggest asking for Lucy, she’s especially fabulous and friendly. Oh! And go with the Taire oil as your selected scent. It’s the most delicious smell, I fell in love with it so much I brought a bottle home with me– I need to find it here, somewhere.
Much of our days in Bora Bora were spent lounging, dipping in the pool and ocean, sipping on wine and exotic cocktails– pretty much the way you want to spend your days there.
Memories that will stick with us for a lifetime: ukulele playing golf cart drivers escorting you to your bungalow late at night, seeing fish that I only saw in my Mom’s salt water fish take growing up (only MUCH bigger), the friendliest staff and culture you will ever meet, receiving my first Tahitian Pearl from my HUSBAND, jumping off of our dock countless times to get the perfect mid-air shot, waking up to the most serene sounds, forgetting what day of the week it was, bottles and bottles of Billecart-Salmon Rose at sunset and THAT water, the color of that water.
Mauruuru (thank you in Tahitian) again to the staff (another shout-out to Sonia Richard, Thomas Carreras and Rajiv Malhotra for making our stay perfection) and Stacy for all you did to make our dream honeymoon a reality.
Four Seasons Bora Bora
Motu Tehotu – BP 547
98730 Bora Bora
Tel. +(689) 603 130