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Bora Bora’s Luxury Retreats: Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso, St. Regis Bora Bora, Virtuoso

I made a monumental mistake last night. At some point during dinner I mentioned that I don’t know how to ride a bike.  It’s my go-to embarrassing fact and now Emma has made it her mission to teach me on this trip.  Just my luck, people love riding bikes around Moorea, so there will be plenty of rental opportunities when we’re there in a couple of days.  In the meantime, my friends have taken to putting me on every trike we pass by for training purposes. This first happened during our site inspection of the Intercontinental.  Right as Emma was talking about teaching me how to ride a bike, one of the staff zoomed by on a tricycle.  Emma promptly stopped her and asked if we can borrow it – the woman is kind enough to hold onto the back of the trike while I’m taking my first baby pedals toward full blown bike riding.  I heard everyone cheering (okay, laughing) and realized that the staff member had let go and I’m soaring down the sidewalk without any idea of how to stop the thing.  It’s really not that hard to ride an object that does all of the balancing for you, so the trike wasn’t that difficult. However, anyone who knows me realizes how terrible I am at walking on my own two feet, much less balancing on a two-wheeled mode of transportation.

Anyway, after all of that fuss, the real gem of the morning was our tour of the Intercontinental Bora Bora.  This place really is right up my alley, style-wise.  Even after our 3 site inspections today, I’ve got to give it first place in terms of style (trendy and modern) and staff (friendly and accommodating).  I love the bungalow set ups and the natural beauty of the property.  If I had an extra day here, I would certainly hit up the Thalasso spa, which is hands down the most serene environment that I’ve ever been in.    We also got to check out the glass-floored wedding chapel.  Destinations weddings are a huge trend in French Polynesia since they were recently made legal.  Interesting wedding idea: brides can choose to kayak to the chapel on their big day.  I don’t know how well the dress and hair would do, but she would certainly make an entrance.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Mr. Bailey, the Intercontinental owner, personally for going above and beyond during my time here.  You really did a great job in taking care of us and I’m confident that you and your attentive staff will treat each and every guest in this way.  I really feel that the coziness of the Intercontinental made it feel more like home to me.  While it’s a very recognizable name in luxury travel, it is not the least bit stuffy.

The most difficult part of my day was leaving my bungalow – I stalled for a few minutes to take some more photos and video.  That truly was a magnificent experience and I wish I had more time to enjoy it – guess I’ll just have to come back!

We departed in style on the St. Regis’ private yacht which took us to our next site inspection.

The St. Regis Bora Bora, which is widely known as the setting for the movie Couples Retreat, was absolutely pristine.  The water at this property was a deeper, more cerulean blue, which made for a beautiful contrast to the light wooden bungalows.  We toured one of the top room categories in overwater bungalows, it’s over 3,000 square feet, has two bedrooms and a private pool, and costs about $5,000 a night.  Needless to say, I wanted it.

The room that Couples Retreat was filmed in!

My favorite part of the St. Regis was the landscaping.  A shallow lagoon with a controlled environment (ie: no surprise sharks) ran through the whole resort, perfect for hours of snorkeling.  Each room category that we viewed was really phenomenal – the beach and garden villas offered great accommodations, including huge pools and an intimate level of privacy.

It’s incredible how the personalities of the St. Regis and Intercontinental differ.  I always tell my clients that each resort has its own characteristics and these two luxury properties were prime examples.  While they both boast incredible sites, they really are unique in their own way, making it much more important to have a travel agent match you with the correct resort!

After an incredible lunch with Tracy, the very energetic and really fun marketing coordinator for the St. Regis Bora Bora, our group heads over to the Hilton Bora Bora Nui, where we’ll be staying the night.  We’re thrilled to find out that we’ll be staying in overwater bungalows again – two out of three so far!  We tour various room categories at the Hilton, which offers a more mountainous backdrop than the other resorts, it even has a hilltop bungalow with spectacular views.  The overwater bungalows are very spacious – they aren’t quite what we stayed in at the Intercontinental, but this property is much more budget-friendly.  I certainly wouldn’t complain about a week in one of these bungalows, we just shouldn’t have started our trip at the top!  Really, though, this is the first room that I’ve actually gotten to enjoy for more than just the night.  Our site inspection here wrapped up and left us with about three hours of free time before dinner.

Laura and I took advantage of this and snorkeled over to Emma and Andrew’s bungalows.  I wore reef shoes and didn’t quite understand the concept of keeping my snorkel out of the water.  I really am the most awkward, uncoordinated thing on the face of this planet.  After some underwater pictures and chatting, the four of us grab Lorrie, an agent from California, and head to the activities desk to see about a jet ski tour for tomorrow.  On the way back, Emma spots another trike for me to ride – this one belonging to Uma, a buff Polynesian man who was more than obliged to help teach me how to ride a bike.  I rode the room service trike in a few circles and dropped it back off at the rental desk, where Uma tried to find a piece of paper to present me with an official bike license.

“Room Service!”

I can’t believe what a giant undertaking this has become, but Emma feels as though it’s her personal mission to make sure I learn by the end of this trip.  This is excellent because I knew French Polynesia would be my life changing trip of the year…finally learning how to ride a bike would certainly be life changing.

Lindsey Epperly

My name is Lindsey Epperly and I’m a travel consultant and owner of Epperly Travel, a national affiliate of Century Travel. I’m most passionate about building lifelong relationships with my clients and suppliers, discovering the globe in a way that makes me a better agent, and celebrating with my team when we reach a new milestone. One of our core values at Epperly Travel is to create fun and celebrate constantly – and I’m fortunate to be in a career that allows me to do just that. I’m proud to announce my recent achievements: landing a spot on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List as their Caribbean expert, being nominated for Virtuoso’s Rising Star Award and receiving a place on Jezebel Magazine’s Trailblazing Ten list.

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