Getting to Bora Bora from the US is much simpler than similar destinations like the Maldives, including with points and miles.
Four carriers serve the US mainland with flights to PPT Tahiti: Air France (via LAX), French Bee (via SFO), United (via SFO), and Air Tahiti Nui (via LAX). Many of these flights land in the evening, after all connections from Tahiti to Bora Bora have concluded for the day, so many guests spend a night in Tahiti before continuing to Bora Bora. The standard layover hotel in Tahiti is the Intercontinental, which is overpriced and underwhelming. If you have a bit more time and arrive before 4pm, I recommend staying in Moorea, which is a 30 minute ferry ride from Tahiti and much more beautiful.
The only way to get from Tahiti to Bora Bora is by flight on Air Tahiti. Expect to pay about $400-500 round trip for the flight. I recommend sitting on the left side of the plane to capture the best views of Bora Bora as you approach the island. You'll even fly next to the St Regis (pictured below in the lower left corner of the island.) As you can see, the St Regis is on one of the small "motus" (private islands) surrounding Bora Bora's Mt Otemanu, giving it the best view in Bora Bora.
Upon arrival in Bora Bora, a private St Regis boat will ferry you to the resort for $70pp. If you'd like to save money, you can also take the free Air Tahiti shuttle to the main town (Vaitape), and then take one of the St Regis shuttles from Vaitape to the St Regis. One benefit of this approach is that you can buy snacks, drinks, and alcohol in Vaitape for much cheaper than at the St Regis.
Upon arriving at the St Regis, we were notified that we were upgraded to a Premier Otemanu Overwater Villa. The overwater villa's view and location was the most stunning part of the St Regis experience.
The St Regis has 60+ overwater villas, but only 7 Premier Otemanu Villas. These are the best villas at the St Regis barring the Royal (presidential) villa, because they're larger and have the most direct view of Mt Otemanu. They also feature a whirlpool and extra lounging area that regular overwater villas don't have.
The Premier villa itself is quite spacious, at nearly 2,000 square ft. The St Regis already has the largest overwater villas in the South Pacific, and the Premier Otemanu villa is about 500 square ft larger than the Superior or Deluxe overwater villa categories.
If you've checked out other photos of the St Regis villas, you may have noticed that these photos look a bit different. Most villas have wood walls with a natural finish, and others have complained that some rooms had worn out finishes, chipped wood, stains, etc. We were informed by our butler that this specific villa was renovated last year as a test concept for a renovation they're considering across the resort. This specific villa is still the only one that's been renovated with this treatment though. While we liked that everything felt new and fresh, we found some of the new decor in the renovated villa to be a little gimmicky and nautical (perhaps why they did not roll out this style across the resort.)
Even the closet has fabulous overwater views. Tip: St Regis butlers will unpack your luggage, hang your clothes, and offer 2 free pressings per day.
The hotel features three restaurants. The most famous (and expensive) is the Lagoon Restaurant by Jean Georges, which has gorgeous views overlooking the mountain as well as cutouts in the floor overlooking the water & reef sharks below. I recommend coming for a drink on their outside patio for sunset, followed by dinner inside.
Drinks are quite expensive, usually clocking in at over $25/drink.
Dinner is only served inside, even during COVID. We found this odd given the beautiful views and better air outside. One fun feature of the restaurant, though, is glass cutouts all over the floor, overlooking a shark lagoonarium.
The food and service at the restaurant were excellent, which I'd expect, given the $300 bill.
We also opted for free breakfast as part of the Titanium welcome amenity. The breakfast was served a la carte due to COVID restrictions. Portions were quite generous and we were not limited in our orders in any way. The food quality, though, was fine but not remarkable. It was not comparable to what one might find at other top St Regis properties in New York, Maldives, or Singapore.
Elite recognition at the St Regis was strong--more so than we received at other hotels in Bora Bora. We received a generous welcome amenity in the room including macarons, champagne, evian, and perrier.
The grounds at the St Regis were quite large and striking. You could easily spend an hour walking around the grounds, from a "lagoonarium" (an enclosed part of the lagoon that's private to St Regis members), to a large spa property, to multiple beaches and pools, to the villa areas.
Interested in paying a visit? The St Regis Bora Bora can be quite expensive, but here are five tips for saving money on your trip here:
- Rather than use the St Regis boat from the airport, take the free Air Tahiti boat to Vaitape and the less expensive St Regis shuttle from Vaitape
- Buy snacks and alchohol in Vaitape at the Chin Lee supermarket in Vaitape. Here you can get a soda for $1 vs. the $8-10 you might spend at the resort
- Use points. Take advantage of points redemptions to book a room here. Standard season rates are 85,000, but during COVID, Marriott is running generous promotions such as their latest promotion to charge off-peak rates at all properties through Nov 2020. Off-peak at the St Regis would be 70,000 points.
- Rather than visiting the restaurants, room service was a stronger value - and who wouldn't want to order room service with views like that!
- Save $100+/day with platinum or higher elite status, which comes with breakfast included. If you don't have platinum status, try doing an elite challenge before your stay.