Bora Bora — an island in the South Pacific known for its turquoise water, luxurious hotels and impressive Mount Otemanu — is a dream vacation destination for many.
Because I’ve visited French Polynesia several times before, I’ve already experienced many things travelers might seek out on their first or even second visit — activities such as swimming with manta rays and sharks, sunset cruises and watercrafting around the island. But instead, on this trip, when I wasn’t working remotely, I focused entirely on rest and relaxation.
On a previous trip, I had already driven a water scooter past The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. From that experience and looking at pictures online, I knew the hotel’s property featured a prominent view of Mount Otemanu.
I was already mentally prepared to have a view of Mount Otemanu throughout my trip. However, I can’t overstate how amazing it was to see the mountain every day. This starkly contrasts the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, which only has views of Mount Otemanu from a few select villas and the resort’s spa.
My one regret with my room is that I didn’t splurge on a villa with a Mount Otemanu view, which would have significantly enhanced my experience.
In addition to featuring stunning views, the resort grounds featured lush, tropical landscaping and a bike path perfect for making your way around the resort. All rooms come with two bikes — each with your villa number. Of course, if you prefer not to bike, you can always call the butler service and arrange a ride.
My favorite areas of the property and where I spent most of my time were:
The Lagoonarium. Perfect for snorkeling with a wide variety of tropical fish.
The Iridium Spa. It includes a peaceful beach on a private island you can visit even if you aren’t getting treatment.
The main beach. It features cabanas, chairs with umbrellas and a hammock in the water that is perfect for lounging and taking Insta-worthy photographs.
I’ve been fortunate to stay in several overwater villas throughout French Polynesia and the Maldives. However, I was utterly taken aback by the size of my villa at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.
I stayed in an Overwater Deluxe Villa. Though it’s one of the smaller villas at the resort, it measures an impressive 1,549 square feet and includes a living room, bedroom, outdoor terrace with a lounge area, and a large bathroom with a jetted bathtub.
Something I especially loved about the villa is that each room features a hole in the floor with a clear glass covering so you can see the water underneath. Being in such a large villa, you can sometimes forget that you’re standing above the ocean — so being able to see the water beneath each room was a delightful reminder.
The bed was very comfortable; there was plenty of hot water and the Wi-Fi worked without a hitch for Zoom meetings and streaming movies. I also appreciated that the outdoor terrace had chairs you could sunbathe in and a covered area to enjoy the view in the shade.
Service and food
All guests at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort are assigned a butler, who you can reach throughout your stay by dialing “9” (either from the phone in your room or phones throughout the property).
With this service, you can call your butler each morning and they’ll arrive about 20 minutes later with your favorite coffee ready for you to enjoy in your room or on your terrace. I can’t stress enough how much I loved getting morning iced coffee delivered. As an avid coffee drinker, it was one of the highlights of my day.
Aside from morning coffee, your butler can assist you in making dinner reservations, booking activities, and attending to minor requests, such as locating a replacement bike if another guest accidentally takes yours.
Our butler went out of her way to help when needed. For instance, I couldn’t get a dinner reservation before 8 p.m. one night when I tried to book directly with the restaurant. So I asked my butler for assistance, and she called the restaurant directly and confirmed a reservation at the requested time.
Speaking of food, I enjoyed every dish — especially the breakfast buffet, the cheeseburger and fries and the set menu at the weekly Polynesian dinner (which comes with traditional dancing and music). My two favorite spots were Far Niente, a casual Italian restaurant with delicious pizza, and 727 Bar, which looks straight at Mount Otemanu and features complimentary champagne sabering most nights at sunset.
A thoughtful touch is that all restaurants at the property include prices in Central Pacific francs, the local currency, and an approximation of the cost in U.S. dollars, so you don’t need to do the math before ordering a dish or drink.
Time of year and weather
I stayed at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort in December 2022, at the height of French Polynesia’s rainy season, which typically goes from November through April. My first visit to French Polynesia was in January 2019, and during a five-night stay, it only rained for about 15 minutes total. So I was hopeful that this trip would be similar and that I’d be able to enjoy great weather for the majority of my stay.
Unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative on this trip. It rained almost every day, and while there were at least a few hours of sunshine most days, there were two days it rained so hard I didn’t leave the villa.
If you have the flexibility for your trip’s timing, I recommend booking during the dry season from May through October.
Something else to consider when timing your visit is if you’ll be there during a new moon. Because Bora Bora has minimal light pollution, it’s a great location for stargazing, which is even better if you visit during a new moon.
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort recapped
From the stunning views of Mount Otemanu and the strikingly large villa to the personalized butler service and delicious food, I very much enjoyed my stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. If I’m lucky enough to visit again, I’ll book during the dry season and pay a bit extra to secure a villa with a view of Mount Otemanu.
(Top photo courtesy of Josh Garber)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for: