In summer 2022, I enjoyed an incredible holiday in French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora). Read my trip reports here:
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Paris to Los Angeles
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class (Los Angeles to Papeete)
- Review: The Brando
- Review: InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa
- Review: Air Tahiti ATR 72 Economy Class from Tahiti to Bora Bora
- Review: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (today)
- Review: St Regis Bora Bora
- Review: Four Seasons Bora Bora
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class (Tahiti to Los Angeles)
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class (Los Angeles to Paris)
Today: Review of the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Opened in 2006 as one of the three hotels in French Polynesia managed by the InterContinental Hotel Group, the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is located on a virgin beach on Motu Piti Aau, a coral island on the barrier reef along the eastern side of Bora Bora. The view of the main Island from the resort is unique, especially towards Mount Otemanu, rising majestically across the blue crystal waters of the spectacular lagoon. Comfortably chic bungalows jut out over the turquoise lagoon, each with a furnished sundeck with direct access to the water and an outdoor, freshwater shower. The resort boasts the region’s first thalassotherapy spa, using South Pacific marine ingredients in luscious skincare treatments.
The InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalassao Spa features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in French Polynesia and my favorite InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in the world.
Have you ever stayed at the InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalassao Spa? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa is located on Bora Bora, the most famous and popular island in French Polynesia. Dotted with white sand beaches and overwater resorts, this south pacific island could easily be defined as the globe’s most romantic destination. Located on a dormant volcano, Bora Bora features one of the world’s most beautiful and crystal-clear lagoons, colored in a million shades of blue. At the center of the idyllic lagoon is the breathtaking Mount Otemanu, which rises up to 2,385 feet (727 m) above the Pacific Ocean and is believed to be the birthplace of the Polynesian islands in local mythology. Bora Bora is located a brief 50-minute flight from the islands of Tahiti or Moorea.
- Amid the indelible aquamarine of Bora Bora’s alluring lagoon you’ll find the coral island Motu Piti Aau, meaning ‘islet of two hearts’ and home to the lush InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. The island and property is located on the eastern side of Bora Bora, which makes for particularly breathtaking and unique panoramas as the resort’s extensive seafront looks out over the main island and the iconic Mount Otemanu across the turquoise lagoon. The central location makes direct boat transfers from the resort to the main island as well as Bora Bora’s small airport very convenient – the boat trip takes just 20 minutes. Shuttle service is available with prior reservation and fees apply.
- When guests arrive at the resort’s dock after the transfer from the airport, they are greeted by the hotel staff and immediately whisked away by golf carts. The personalized check-in process takes place in a charming open-air lobby that gives way to a spectacular view of Bora Bora’s stunning crystalline lagoon and the imposing Mount Otemanu. Staff members welcome new arrivals with cold towels and vanilla-infused iced tea before giving them an orientation tour around the lush resort grounds. The fairly compact property is easy to navigate and walkable (although buggies are always available): the beach and main facilities (restaurants, pool, and spa) are at the heart of the resort, while the two jetties with overwater villas are located on both sides of the beach.
- The InterContinental Bora Bora features 84 spacious overwater villas, located along two jetties. With unique positioning and vistas (either towards the beach or towards Mount Otemanu), each villa shares the same layout and comes with a furnished terrace (some even have a plunge pool). The bedroom is separated from the living room, which has a glass-bottomed coffee table that showcases the lagoon and coral fish below. The ensuite bathroom is equipped with a double vanity, shower and separate bathtub facing a picture window that frames wide lagoon views. All villas are cooled with an eco-friendly, deep-sea water A/C system and decorated in chic, contemporary island style, with touches of traditional Polynesian design creating an elegant sense of place.
- Few overwater villas at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa have private plunge pools, but in case your villa doesn’t have one, there’s no reason to be disappointed as you’ll be surrounded by one of the world’s most stunning natural pools (all villas have direct access to the lagoon). Guests can also retreat to the resort’s lovely communal pool, which features a gradual zero-entry. Directly in front of the pool, with sublime views of the mountain, is the resort’s white sand beach, with calm, crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking — the equipment for which can be rented for free at the pool hut. Shaded lounge chairs are scattered across the beach, along with large hammocks hanging between the palm trees.
- A beloved part of the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is the onsite Lagoonarium, a protected habitat and coral nursery that is home to a thrilling array of sea creatures. Marine biologists supervise the Lagoonarium and coral nursery and guests may visit to learn about tropical marine life conservation efforts. This environment was specially designed to favor coral growth by circulating cold saltwater drawn from deep ocean levels. These nutrient-rich conditions foster coral regeneration and help encourage the diverse and dazzling species of fish to feed and shelter among the healthy coral. The lagoonarium is also home to an overwater, glass-bottomed wedding chapel, with awe-inspiring views of Mount Otemanu.
- Nestled in the motu’s lush tropical gardens is the Deep Ocean Spa, undoubtedly the sparkling jewel of the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. The wellness center is framed by the aquamarine lagoon on one side and, on the other, the sapphire-blue expanse of the South Pacific Ocean that inspires it. The spa features multi-sensory outdoor steam baths and relaxation areas, a gym, tea lounge and a boutique for complete tranquility and rejuvenation. Glass-floored overwater bungalows allow the guests to admire the marine life during a treatment. The Deep Ocean Spa offers treatments using the natural benefits of water drawn from the depths of the Pacific. Facial cares benefit from the expertise of the Algotherm brand, a specialist in marine dermo-cosmetics.
- From fine French dining to barbecue buffets, a stay at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is a culinary journey across continents. There are three restaurants and two bars on-site:
- Romantic and alluringly intimate, the signature indoor restaurant Le Corail offers a gourmet dining experience which ranks among my favorite in Bora Bora. Overlooking the lighted lagoonarium and comfortably air-conditioned, the dining room also has the largest wine cellar in French Polynesia.
- Sands is a poolside and beachfront venue serving light fare and cocktails during the day. By night, Sands serves local and international fare infused gently with Asian flavors. On select nights, live music accompanies dinnertime, and special themed-dinner take place on the beach.
- Reef serves authentic Mediterranean cuisine in a casually elegant setting. Weekly Polynesian dance performances are complemented by a lavish themed buffet of international dishes and local specialties. Reef also serves an excellent breakfast buffet (the best one in Bora Bora).
- Next to Reef Restaurant is Bubbles Bar, the place to be for happy hour and evening aperitifs. Designed with traditional Polynesian materials and contemporary touches, Bubbles serves a wide array of signature cocktails.
- Located next to Sands Restaurant is Sands Bar, which enjoys unparalleled views of Mount Otemanu. The bar specializes in cocktails and snacks, and is a popular spot during sunset.
- The property is managed by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, the leading chain of luxury hotels in French Polynesia and one of the first to move into the archipelago. This early arrival meant that the InterContinental resorts secured some of the most spectacular spots in the Society Islands and Bora Bora. Though each property has a distinct personality, the three hotels of the InterContinental brand in French Polynesia all embrace the same philosophy. Each fits in flawlessly with its natural surroundings, with overwater bungalows, and makes great effort to protect both the environment and local traditions. The other two InterContinental properties are both located on the island of Bora Bora (a 50 min flight from Tahiti):
- The InterContinental Bora Bora Moana Resort is hugged by two long beaches, in the shade of a splendid coconut plantation. This unique boutique hotel on the main island of Bora Bora features a breathtaking private white-sand beach with direct access to one of the world’s most stunning lagoons.
- The InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa is the largest luxury resort on the main island of Tahiti. Located just five minutes from the airport, it is also the most convenient. Elegantly engulfed by tropical gardens, this is the ideal resort to begin your visit to French Polynesia.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- As already mentioned above, the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is not to be confused with the other InterContinental Bora Bora Resort on Bora Bora’s main island, the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort (which is not as luxurious and exclusive as its sister resort). Make sure you book your stay at the correct InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
- The resort’s beach is quite long and offers a spectacular view of the mountain, but it’s a bit narrow, composed of coral sand (which is not very soft) and has some rocky parts along the shoreline.
- Although this might be a matter of personal preference, I was slightly disappointed by the food served by Reef, the resort’s all day dining restaurant. The breakfast was excellent (and the best one I had in Bora Bora) but the dishes served during dinner lacked innovation and their presentation nor taste felt very sophisticated. Meals were fresh and simple but nothing to write home about and not a culinary highlight of my trip. Fortunately, Corail, the resort’s restaurant specializing in fine dining, offered a stellar dining experience and somewhat made up for Reef’s unimaginative food.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,4/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalassao Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
French Polynesia is best visited between June and September when the climate is at its driest and the weather is balmy (but windy). However, this is high season, so it will be busy and the hotel rates are skyrocketing. The months on either side of this period (May & October) are known as the shoulder season and offer comfortable weather too, but with lower prices and less wind. Although French Polynesia can be visited year-round, the months of November to April bring more humidity and cloudy days, with tropical showers passing at greater frequency than other times of the year. However, they are often interspersed with periods of sunshine. This is a humid time of year, though, which can be uncomfortable and I recommend choosing a hotel with A/C if visiting during these months. The islands rarely suffer from tropical storms except during years when El Niño affects ocean currents.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bora Bora is located a brief 50-minute flight from the islands of Tahiti or Moorea. From Bora Bora’s small airport, it’s just a 20 min boat transfer to the resort. Shuttle service is available with prior reservation and fees apply.
Below is a selection of my photos of the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. To view more photos (including breakfast and dinner), click here.