On Bora Bora, where thatched-roof bungalows stretch for as far as the eye can see and traditional South Pacific décor is de rigueur, it's refreshing to see a resort make a bold design statement. That's just what you'll enjoy the moment you step into the chic arrival pavilion at The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, opened in 2006 and located on Motu Piti Aau, a coral islet on the edge of Bora Bora's reef.
Dramatic lighting and artwork punctuate the wood floors and stone walls. Hop in an awaiting electric cart and you're off to a hip enclave that you'll never want to leave.
A Bungalow With a View
The first stop is your spacious 1,000-square-foot bungalow/villa, which is one of 80 located on two wood-planked pontoons that extend over the blue lagoon. They come in five categories offering varying views - from Diamond Otemanu Overwater Villas featuring perfectly framed vistas of Bora Bora's iconic Mt. Otemanu peak to Emerald Overwater Villas looking out over the beach and the resort - but are otherwise identical. They make a perfect hideaway for two.
Families can opt for one of three Motu Family Suites, which have two bedrooms and two baths in 1,238 square feet and are nestled in a coconut grove. And eco-conscious guests will be pleased to know that the resort has a one-of-a-kind air-conditioning system utilizing deep-sea water that conserves 90% of its electrical consumption.
InterContinental's villas mix it up décor-wise, with elements that are both modern and traditional, but all constructed of local materials. The result is a bright, light oblong space with living and sleeping areas separated by sliding doors that invites instant relaxation. Natural woods and fabrics in ivory, bronze and olive accent rather than compete with what is perhaps the most impressive element: the spectacular lagoon view. You can enjoy it from the living room, the king-sized bed and even the bathtub. Just open the glass door and step out onto a veranda with twin chaises and steps leading to a platform from which you can take a dip in the awaiting lagoon. There's also a table and two chairs, shaded beneath a palm-leaf overhang, making it the perfect spot to enjoy room-service breakfast.
It's a Mod, Mod World
When midday hunger strikes, room service is always an option. You can also enjoy a walk to Le Sand restaurant, located right on the resort's pristine, 1,000-foot-wide beach. Casual fare, from salads to burgers to refreshing poisson cru, is served from midday until mid-evening.
At sunset, there's no better spot to enjoy it than in the resort's visually intoxicating social hub, the Bubbles lounge, where even the decor matches the name. Juxtaposed against dark wood floors, sleek white Philippe Starck-designed furniture - pod chairs, round tables, sofas made of connected circles - evoke bubbles in a Champagne flute. Even more fun are the beehive-shaped hanging rattan swing chairs just big enough for two.
The resort's second eatery, Le Reef Restaurant, is the spot for more sophisticated dining. Couples craving alone time can arrange a super-romantic dinner for two on the beach - a must at least once during your stay.
Also uniquely pampering is the resort's Deep Ocean Spa, which utilizes ocean water and minerals piped from 3,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific in a variety of signature treatments. The 13,200-square-foot complex features a thalassotherapy (based on seawater and marine elements) circuit featuring multi-sensorial pools, showers and steam areas, plus a glass-bottom overwater couples bungalow where you can spy on tropical fish below you as you enjoy a massage.
The relaxation area, with its panoramic lagoon views, is one of the best spots in Tahiti to forget about the stresses of life back home. Choose from almost a dozen massage techniques on the "Massages of the World" menu or detox with a Marine Indulgence Body Wrap.
What to Do and How to Say "I Do"
Bora Bora is a water-lovers' wonderland. Just ask and the resort's activities desk can arrange excursions ranging from shark and stingray feedings and scuba dives to helicopter tours and pearl farm visits. Right on the property, tennis courts, a fitness center and a spectacular pool offer plenty of ways to keep fit. Or you can always just slip on snorkel masks and fins and enjoy the underwater show just a few strokes from your overwater villa.
But the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa also offers something truly unique: an overwater wedding chapel with a glass-floor aisle and panoramic lagoon views. Now that it's legal for Americans to marry in French Polynesia, there's no excuse not to tie the knot in this South Pacific paradise - with God and Mt. Otemanu as as your witnesses.