Given my job, I stay in a lot of hotels and resorts all over the world. Usually, they’re fine but not remotely noteworthy. They are simply a means to an end, a place to rest and recharge while I experience new destinations. I love hotels and resorts though and will always spend a little more for a luxury experience. There are some though that are much more than a place to sleep at night, they have over time become destinations unto themselves. People travel long distances just to experience a few days at these properties – they’re just that special and unique. There aren’t many of these remarkable resorts, they are a travel unicorn really. However, I recently had the great opportunity to experience life at one of the best of these resort destinations and those brief 24-hours spent at Le Meridien Bora Bora was one of the best days I’ve ever enjoyed. Really. Here’s why:
Where and What is Le Meridien Bora Bora
Situated on the northern tip of Motu Piti A’au, a small islet that sits along the eastern coral reef of Bora Bora, Le Meridien was one of the first luxury resorts in this location with overwater bungalows. What this means for the visitor is that those bungalows feature the best views of the iconic Mount Otemanu. It’s simple geography and no other resort along this part of Bora Bora can come even close to competing with them for these amazing views. It’s also very easy to reach, whether you arrive by plane or boat. I was on a Windstar Cruise and a night at this famed resort was one of the many excursions offered during our two-day stay in Bora Bora. Picking me up from the port, it was an easy boat ride to Le Meridien itself. Le Meridien is also a Starwood Hotel, which means now that it’s also part of the Marriott family. So not only can you earn valuable points here, but you can also save those points to use them at this, one of the best hotels in the world. Pretty great perk if you ask me.
What To See and Do
Since the hotel really is the destination for many visitors, it’s important that there is plenty to experience while on-site. Le Meridien Bora Bora is a large resort and includes many of those iconic features we all know and love about French Polynesia in a way that is complementary and not obtrusive. The resort looks and feels as if it belongs there naturally, and that’s thanks to how it has so expertly incorporated those elements into the property itself.
Immediately in front of the hotel are the perfectly blue waters everyone expects to find. A wide variety of water equipment is available for guests to use including SUPs and kayaks, a fun way to explore the area. There’s also an inner lagoon, surrounded by the main buildings of the resort. This inner lagoon isn’t just a showpiece though, I saw many people making good use of it either swimming, snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach.
Adjacent to the resort is also a small motu, or island, allowing guests the opportunity to enjoy the perfectly warm waters of the region in relative seclusion. I kayaked out to the motu early in the morning just so I could sit on the shore and enjoy the solitude. It was perfection and a great addition to the overall experience.
But it’s not all about luxury and excess, Le Meridien Bora Bora also participates in something which is near and dear to my own heart, wildlife conservation. The Turtle Protection Center is a remarkable facility with one goal in mind – saving and protecting endangered marine turtles. These beautiful animals are either born at the Sanctuary or are brought to the biologists by concerned citizens. Many have been injured and need to be brought back to good health before being released back into the ocean. Every day the team of biologists invites resort guests to join them as they feed the turtles, using the opportunity to educate curious visitors about the conservation efforts underway at Le Meridien Bora Bora.
There are plenty of experiences to enjoy away from the resort as well. Bora Bora is one of the most popular islands in French Polynesia for a reason, and the hotel activities team were busy during my time on-site helping guests book excursions including everything from scenic helicopter rides to remarkable diving adventures. If you are an active traveler, it really is impossible to be bored while exploring French Polynesia.
Those Amazing Overwater Bungalows
For me though, the real star of my time at Le Meridien Bora Bora was spending the night in one of those famous overwater bungalows. The resort features 99 bungalows, of which 82 are overwater. In my opinion, if you’re traveling all the way to Bora Bora, then you should enjoy your visit in one of these remarkable cottages. I’ve honestly never experienced anything quite like them and staying the night was one of the best hospitality moments of my life. I was in a premium bungalow that features plenty of living space in a very generous 592 sq ft. area. In the middle of the bungalow are wide glass panels, allowing guests to enjoy sea life from the comfort of the couch. At night, you can turn on underwater lights to illuminate the waters, adding an otherworldly element to the overall experience. They’re also the largest glass paneled floors in Bora Bora, yet another reason why Le Meridien is so very special. The bungalows (which went through a renovation recently) also have a terrace where I spent some time sunbathing and just admiring those mountain views. A spiral staircase leading down into the water meant I had instant and ready access to the lagoon, a luxury I took advantage of many times in those all too brief 24 hours.
This bungalow was my happy place. I can still feel that sensation of total happiness; of contentment on a level I rarely enjoy to be honest. Part of it had to do with the environment. For decades I’ve wanted to visit Bora Bora, and to be in a bungalow with amazing views of the island’s most famous mountain was almost too much for my brain to take. Add in luxury comforts and I am struggling to think of another resort where I’ve been so happy. There’s a special magic here and I would do anything to recapture it if only for a few days.
At this point you can probably guess that I enjoyed my experience at Le Meridien Bora Bora. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding though, it’s about so much more than just blue waters and a nice beach. Everything at the resort comes together perfectly, and it’s this synthesis that creates something truly remarkable. But all aspects of the experience have to be perfect in order for this to occur. The food, the amenities, the service, the rooms, they all have to be extraordinary in order for this unique moment of travel perfection to exist and at Le Meridien Bora Bora, they do. It’s rare, but when it happens you know something truly special has occurred and for me, that encapsulates my time at Le Meridien Bora Bora perfectly. What’s even better about my own experience is that because it’s an offered overnight excursion by Windstar, I got to experience Tahiti in two very different ways. I enjoyed the cruise perspective of visiting different islands and learning about their unique attributes. However, I also was able to spend time enjoying the more laid back version of French Polynesia, the aspect where people go for a week or two to lounge, relax and recharge their batteries. That’s fairly unique and only further highlights why Windstar was the perfect choice for me when it came time to decide how to best experience Tahiti.
Whether it’s for a day as part of a cruise or a two-week long sojourn, I can think of few other places in the world as perfect as the resort Le Meridien Bora Bora. Everything is done to total and complete perfection, a compliment I don’t give lightly but one that is fully earned and deserved.