Fact: the best sleep of your life comes when you stay in a luxurious bungalow above a crystalline lagoon in the South Pacific. And with features like sand-bottom pools and restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred chefs, these 7 hotels in French Polynesia practically guarantee the best vacation of your life, too. Check out the top luxury resorts on the stunning islands of Bora Bora, Taha’a, and Tahiti in French Polynesia.
The five-pearl Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has broad appeal for all types of luxury travelers. It’s the only resort in Bora Bora where families, honeymooners, and friend groups all manage to peacefully coexist -- and it’s not hard to see why. The resort’s 115 overwater and beachfront bungalows are beautifully appointed with luxe Polynesian decor, and standard rooms can accommodate up to four people thanks to a pullout couch. Features are impressive here as well. The resort is home to a stunning infinity pool, a beautiful beach and protected lagoon, a top-notch spa and workout facility, and four on-site restaurants. Plus, it has both kids' and teens' clubs with a host of daily activities. Freebies like Wi-Fi, non-motorized water sports, and snorkel gear are nice perks, but hardly outweigh the mighty costs of everything else.
The luxurious InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is about as good as it gets in French Polynesia. Its 80 overwater bungalows (the only room type here -- how terrible, right?), beautiful infinity pool, and stunning beach are real standouts, but the piece de resistance here is the spa. World-renowned for its incorporation of ocean elements into every spa ritual, the 43,000-square-foot Thalasso Spa is simply magnificent. Other amenities include three restaurants, two bars, a sundries shop, and a small protected lagoon. Plus, guests have free access to sister property, InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort and all of its amenities.
It’s hard to find fault with the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, a luxurious 44-acre property with stunning views of Mt. Otemanu. Its 89 overwater and beachfront bungalows are the largest in French Polynesia, and are richly appointed with modern island decor and thoughtful amenities. Four on-site restaurants, including a Jean-Georges outpost, two beautiful pools, a large beachfront and a protected lagoonarium, and a Clarins spa are a mere sampling of the incredible amenities here. Further setting the St. Regis apart are a romance concierge and bridal boutique, which creates custom itineraries for couples on romantic vacations and plans exclusive weddings and parties.
The Brando is one of the world's most exclusive private island retreats. Named in honor of actor Marlon Brando, who purchased the island after falling in love with the destination during the filming of "Mutiny on the Bounty," the resort harbors 35 private villas withplunge pools and direct access to empty stretches of pristine white-sand beach. The no-expenses-spared all-inclusive services include cuisine from a Michelin two-star chef, one treatment per day at a holistic spa, and unlimited activities, from exploring the lagoon in a Polynesian outrigger canoe to attending lectures about local marine life. Arriving at the resort via a private plane adds to the resort's exclusivity, and its high price.
Set on a 32-acre peninsula surrounded by a turquoise lagoon, the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa is a 245-room upscale resort with attractive rooms and stilted overwater bungalows. Its proximity to the airport makes it a convenient stopover for those heading home or arriving before jetting off to other islands in French Polynesia. Two restaurants offer nightly entertainment while two pools offer plenty of space for lounging and sipping tropical cocktails. While the Intercontinental is one of Papeete's most luxurious hotels, the property is showing its age and is undergoing sporadic renovation.
A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux collection of hotels, Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa is a five-pearl luxury property with 57 overwater and beach bungalows. Built with local materials around preexisting vegetation, the resort has a subdued elegance that doesn’t feel as over the top as some of its neighbors in Bora Bora. Guests spend their days lounging around the freeform pool, snorkeling in the shallow waters off-shore, or relaxing at the on-site spa. The resort’s three restaurants and bars make great use of local ingredients, especially famed Taha’a vanilla. Besides a weekly Polynesian show, there isn’t much to do here in terms of nightlife. And though the resort offers a free shuttle to the main island of Taha’a, there isn’t much to do there either.
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.