Dedicated romance concierge and beautiful overwater wedding chapel
Property is fairly compact and walkable
Free Wi-Fi throughout the resort
No full-service spa
Bungalows are noticeably smaller than many competitors'
Overwater bungalows on the south side of the resort are far from resort amenities
Dining options can feel repetitive
No sundries (such as pharmacy items) for sale on-site
When it opened in the late '90s, Le Meridien Bora Bora was the first luxury hotel of its kind in the area. Since then, it has consistently remained one of Bora Bora’s most exclusive resorts. Its two pools, large beach, and protected lagoon are on par with amenities at similar hotels, but there is no full-service spa, and rooms are noticeably smaller than competitors’. What sets the Meridien apart is its on-site turtle sanctuary, where guests can visit rescued turtles and learn about the hotel’s efforts to rehabilitate them. Travelers looking for an on-site spa or larger rooms might prefer the nearby St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, but nightly rates are typically higher and the resort’s sprawling grounds make it difficult to get around.
A gorgeous luxury resort that largely caters to couples
The Meridien experience begins at the Bora Bora Airport, where guests are greeted by lei-bearing staff members and whisked away by boat to the hotel. Depending on weather conditions, the hotel is about a 25- to 30-minute ride from the airport. The Meridien, which was the first luxury hotel to open on a private motu in Bora Bora, has the best location of its peers — directly across from Mt. Otemanu. From the hotel’s arrivals dock, much of the property comes into view, including its gorgeous overwater bungalows, beautiful beach, and two infinity-edge pools. The lobby is a tranquil open-air space with a grassy lawn and a lily-pad covered pond. A covered walkway surrounds the lawn, and leads to the check-in desk, gift shop, concierge, and business center.
The majority of guests at Le Meridien are couples, many of whom are celebrating honeymoons or anniversaries. We did spot a few families with young children, as well as a few teens, but children of all ages are certainly the minority here. The hotel sees mostly Americans, with a strong showing of French, Chinese, and Japanese couples as well.
The best in Bora Bora, directly across from Mt. Otemanu
Bora Bora, perhaps French Polynesia’s most famous island, is known for its incredible beauty, the highlight of which is its crystalline lagoon. Bora Bora’s main island is surrounded by dozens of tiny islands, known as motus. Guests traveling to Bora Bora have two options: stay on the main island, or stay on a motu. Like many of Bora Bora’s most luxurious resorts, Le Meridien Bora Bora is located on its own motu. Because the Meridien was the first luxury resort to be built on a motu in Bora Bora, we’d argue that its location — directly in front of Mt. Otemanu — bests its competitors'.
All travelers going to Bora Bora must first fly to Papeete, Tahiti. From Tahiti, Bora Bora is about a 45-minute flight. At the Bora Bora Airport, guests will be greeted by Le Meridien representatives and escorted to the hotel’s boat for immediate transfer to the property. Depending on weather conditions, the hotel is about a 20- to 30-minute ride from the airport.
Noticeably smaller than competitors', but still nicely designed and decorated
Le Meridien Bora Bora has 99 rooms, and the vast majority -- specifically, 85 -- are overwater. The Classic Motu Bungalows and Overwater Bungalows start at 540 square feet; they are by no means small, but they’re the smallest of their luxury competitors. Comparatively, overwater bungalows at The Four Seasons, The St. Regis, and The InterContinental all begin at over 1,000 square feet.
Overwater Bungalows are essentially one room, with the bedroom and bathroom portions partitioned by curtains and a daybed alcove. The king-size bed is dressed in ruffly, white linens and covered by a tall wooden canopy. Wood floors and furniture add warmth to rooms, while the pitched mauve ceilings enhance the rustic-luxe vibe. In the center of the room, a large glass panel on the floor allows guests to peer into the ocean beneath (only four of the overwater rooms lack these panels). Bathrooms are modern and fun, with sleek, floating granite countertops and funky floating mirrors with textural wood detailing. There are a large soaking tub and a separate shower stall, along with a water closet that has its own door. Otherwise, save for some curtains, bathrooms lack privacy. In-room amenities include flat-screen TVs, fully stocked minibars, large walk-in closets, and USB charging ports.
All Overwater Bungalows and Premier Overwater Bungalows have outdoor wooden decks with spiral staircases that lead straight into the water below; Premier Overwater Bungalows also have a prime location at the end of the pontoon (and a little more interior space). The Classic Motu Bungalows are at the beginning of the overwater pontoon, with no direct access to the lagoon. It should be noted that the overwater bungalows on the south side of the resort are much farther from the hotel’s amenities than their counterparts on the north side. However, the bungalows on the south side tend to be quieter and offer a bit more privacy.
Cribs are available upon request, and rooms in the entry-level categories have small sofas that can be made up as beds (they don't pull out). These rooms can fit up to three; children are allowed in the overwater rooms, and staff members can set up safety gates. However, many families feel more comfortable in the Beach Bungalows (540 square feet, like the Overwater Bungalows) or one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas (starting at 1,700 square feet, or 157 square meters). The Beach Villas come with private pools.
Plenty of nice features, but the turtle center is a real standout
Le Meridien Bora Bora is chock-full of nice features, including free services like Wi-Fi and daily shuttles to the main island. It’s also noticeably smaller than many of its competitors, which makes the property easily walkable. But what really sets the resort apart is its turtle sanctuary and ecological center. Located behind the resort’s protected lagoon, the turtle center is a place where guests can come to learn about rescued turtles, and see firsthand how the resort rehabilitates them. There’s a shallow lagoon where guests can swim alongside the turtles during their “workouts” (strengthening sessions), as well as a small classroom where staff members teach guests all about turtles, their habits, abilities, and life cycles. The hotel also hosts a daily turtle feeding. The turtle center is an awesome spot for animal lovers or anyone interested in local wildlife.
The Meridien’s two pools are similar in size and occupy the north and south sides of the same deck. Both pools have infinity edges with stunning views of the beach and Mt. Otemanu, but neither is huge. Both pools are surrounded by lounge chairs and umbrellas and tend to attract a decent crowd during the day. The south pool has a tiny hot tub, and is adjacent to the pool bar, while the north pool is directly across from the outdoor Te Ava restaurant.
A beautiful beach with two sides, one facing the outer lagoon, and one facing the interior lagoon
The hotel’s large, crescent-shaped beach lies between the north and south bungalows. It faces Mt. Otemanu on one side, and the hotel’s protected interior lagoon on the other. The Meridien has free kayaks and paddleboards available for guests to use. There’s also free snorkel gear for anyone who wants to check out the incredible marine life in the protected lagoon.
Two restaurants and three bars, but dining options can feel repetitive
There are two restaurants and three bars at Le Meridien, but many guests feel that dining options can get repetitive, especially after a few days. Le Tipanie, which means breakfast in Tahitian, is the hotel’s signature restaurant. It serves breakfast and dinner in an open, airy setting that overlooks the interior lagoon. Breakfast is served buffet-style, and includes American staples like bacon and eggs, custom omelets, and an assortment of cereals. The French influence is shown in the wide array of pastries and baguettes, and the crepe station. Tahitian staples, like poisson cru, are also available. At night, Le Tipanie has an a la carte dinner menu, except once a week, when it serves a Tahitian-style buffet dinner before the weekly Polynesian show.
Te Ava is the hotel’s lunch restaurant adjacent to the north pool. Te Ava’s sandy floor and purple Adirondack chairs give the restaurant a casual feel. The menu consists of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and lots of fresh local seafood. The hotel’s three bars also serve light snacks and meals throughout the day. Bar Miki Miki is located on the lobby level, and offers stunning views of the pools and beach. The wine bar, adjacent to Le Tipanie, is the perfect spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks. It also serves light tapas in the evening hours. The pool bar is open throughout the day, and is adjacent to the south pool.
No full-service spa, but a popular wellness center and modern gym
Although the Meridien does not have a full-service spa, there is an on-site wellness center where guests can book massages and facials. Advanced reservations are strongly recommended. There is a small but well-equipped fitness center with modern Lifefitness treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes, as well as a few weight machines and free weights.
A popular destination for weddings, honeymoons, and anniversary celebrations
Guests tying the knot or celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary can plan custom romantic itineraries with the on-site romance concierge. The romance concierge can book private sunset sails, romantic dinners under the stars, or arrange for flower petals to be scattered across beds or soaking tubs. Although guests cannot be legally married at the resort, Le Meridien can host symbolic ceremonies and lavish events. There are six designated spots used for weddings and vow renewals across the property, including the gorgeous overwater wedding chapel.
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