A May 2003 trip
to Bora Bora by jenandfrank
Quote: This epitome of luxury is surrounded by the most incredible water and sea life you will ever see.
When you first arrive at Bloody Mary’s, you will see large wooden signs that are lit and filled with names. These names are a list of Bloody Mary's most famous patrons, and it is some list. We got a kick out of knowing that people like Barry Gibb (how random) were there before us. Upon entering, you will see a huge table of ice covered with the local catches of the day. Before you are seated, the manager (who is American) compiles a group (usually the people you drove in with) and discusses what is on the table. They tell you what your options are in terms of different fish available, how they can be prepared, and any combination specials. There is no set menu, as it changes every night due to what the local fisherman catch. Typically, they offer basic seafood items such as shrimp, crab, and lobster, as well as several local catches and chicken and steak. Need I explain how fresh this fish is? It's like you ordered it, they caught it just for you, and then had it cooked. You can’t go wrong here if you are a seafood lover. My husband is not a seafood lover and had a fair dinner of steak. You order with the owner or chef BEFORE being seated.
Then you are ready for the dining room, where you will notice a very (large) tropical setting--the whole restaurant is on sand (shoes optional), and the chairs are tree stumps. The service was upbeat, as well as the atmosphere. Definitely worth a visit, even to just see what it’s like and say that you’ve been. They have a huge menu of delicious frozen drinks (check out the house rum), even a few combinations I have never seen before. Appetizers we found to be very small. I had chicken skewers, and I was given two. Dessert was great, though, especially their ice creams. When we were there, two cats were roaming the restaurant, which I thought was odd. I love cats, but not while I’m eating. No one else seemed to be phased by it though.
Note: for those who just want to get a few drinks and appetizers, there is a large bar right in front.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 27, 2004
Bora Bora Island, Tahiti
689 603 300
What a phenomenal trip! My husband and I receive several monthly travel magazines. Whenever a year-end "Gold List" comes out, we are always so disappointed when we see that the Nui was again forgotten. I’d like to think it’s because of the remote destination and that not enough people have been. This is one of the most incredible resorts we have ever been to and definitely in the top three (if not number one) on Bora Bora. This resort, only 2 years old, has every amenity and luxury feature you could want, and although room sizes and views vary, they all include the same thing.
From the beginning at the airport, you are met by a few of the hotel’s staff, who welcome you with shell necklaces and take care of all of your luggage. They offer a free water taxi from the airport (on their incredible boat, which dwarfed the other hotel’s boats). Once onboard, there is about a 20-minute ride to the Motu, during which you will see tons of incredible photo opportunities and begin to relax, knowing what you are about to experience. You are greeted at the dock by different staff members, who take you to your own couch (within the over water lobby), where there is a glass of fresh local juice, a muffin, and your hotel check-in information waiting for you. You do not check in at a front desk, and you do not wait in line. Our boat was filled with guests, and we were all greeted by our own staff member. The lobby had two computers with internet access that were free of charge and a two-person concierge desk that was always staffed. There were also areas to feed the fish below (they looked like baby sharks, though I know that wasn’t the case), and they had bread out for the guests to use.
Our over-the-water bungalow was the VERY last one in the 300 section, so we opted for the golf-cart lift that was offered to us. What an incredible resort! The lobby is located over the water and about 200 yards from the rest of the resort (you walk along a very long boardwalk). At the end is the restaurant (on a "mountain" almost above you) with some shops and the pools and pool grill. This resort offers several different types of accommodations: over-the-water bungalows with no obstructed view (called Horizon over Water bungalows – there are 82 of them that are over 1,000 square feet each, as well as two royal suites that are almost 1,500 square feet), Beach Bungalows that are behind other bungalows and close to the water (about 900 square feet and offer decent views), Hillside Lagoon View bungalows and royal suites (which are nowhere near the water but offer incredible bird’s eye views of the lagoon), and the Lagoon View suites (which are more like a regular hotel room). All rooms include everything you would expect: air-conditioning, two TVs with cable (despite the fact that we only found two English-speaking channels), minibars, hairdryers, etc. We had a Horizon over Water bungalow. We paid up for it ($850-plus a night), but boy was it worth it (I know you think that we are insane).
First of all, we were the very last bungalow, so the only thing we saw was the lagoon, fish, boats, and the most incredible sunsets. The lagoon was crystal clear. I mean incredible, something I think you could only really experience on Motu rather than the actual island of Bora Bora. I have attached a picture of Frank standing on our dock (the bungalows are equipped with your own lanai deck and dock with outdoor furniture and a shower), and I am taking the picture from our deck above. Look at the coral in the water behind him; it looks like it is at the water’s surface. Meanwhile, it was at least 20 feet deep. This is one of the reasons this hotel is so incredible – the water is unbelievable. We had an octopus on one of the corals below our bungalow!!
The inside of the bungalow was spacious, extremely clean, had lots of Tahitian decorations, and just absolutely beautiful. The bathroom was all marble and had a shower that could fit five people, a Jacuzzi tub (with glass areas that lifted so you could feed the fish below from your tub), a separate toilet area, two double-sink counters, and all Aveda products. The bedroom was dream-like, with a canopy bed, TV, desk, and dark wood. There was a separate living room/den area with a TV, couch, chair, etc., and this area could be closed off by sliding doors so that someone could take a nap and someone else could watch TV or go in and out to the lanai deck. The bungalow offered several pieces of furniture that allowed us to feed the fish without going outside. (Through our coffee table – can you imagine?) Room service and housekeeping were quick and excellent, and the turn-down service was a real treat. We were given fresh flowers, clean robes, and palm-esque sandal/slippers every night, and they left rose-petal designs on our bed. All rooms were equipped with snorkel gear and beach towels in case you didn’t want to leave your bungalow.
The pool was another treat. There were complimentary bottled water and Evian spritzes all day long, plus fresh fruit in the morning and fresh-baked cookies at 2pm everyday served by the pool staff. Infinity pools, waterfalls, and palm trees abound. The hotel also offered free kayaks and paddle boats that you could pick up at the pool desk.
Due to the fact that you are on a Motu, the beach is very private, and we often found that most people stayed in or near their bungalows, so the beach was generally very empty, as was the pool. Nonetheless, the beach was gorgeous, pure white, and was cleaned/raked everyday by the staff.
The main restaurant is located on one of the "mountains" at the Bora Bora Nui. This restaurant is opened every day for breakfast and dinner only. If offers panoramic views of the hotel and the surrounding lagoon (thus explaining the name Iriatai Panoramic Restaurant). The service is incredible, as is the international (leaning towards Italian) cuisine. Their executive chef is a famous Italian chef from Rome who makes a pasta carbonara dish so good that you think you are eating it in a piazza in Rome. (We had it as an appetizer at dinner, but a full serving is available at the pool grill for lunch). The menu is pricey, though, as is most of the island as well. Their chocolate cake is ridiculous – make a mental note.
The pool grill is on the beach, off the side of the pool area. It is a nice place to relax in the shade on the beach or just to sit and have a drink. It has average prices for a resort lunch.
The spa is at the top of the highest point of the resort and quite a walk (get a ride if you’re not in shape). We found the spa to be very pretty, with incredible 360-degree views, but our couples massage was not what we received in Moorea and not what we were expecting here. My masseur was sick and stopped every 2 minutes to blow her nose – real relaxing. We also opted for an outdoor sunset massage, which I think, in retrospect, was a mistake because it was a bit buggy (the spa is surrounded by trees, plants, flowers, etc.). When all was said and done, I would have passed considering it was over $300 and I couldn’t relax at all.
Next to the spa was the gym and the wedding chapel – trust me, walking to this gym is enough of a workout.
The hotel offers a free water taxi to the island of Bora Bora that takes about 15 minutes or so. Many of the other hotels charged a small fee. The taxi had a schedule that you received before leaving; it basically left every 30 minutes or so. It was very convenient and allowed us to go out every night and leave the resort.
Check out the breakfast situation when you arrive. We were never told that breakfast was included in all of the rates, but apparently it was! This is not the kind of place to pass up on a free meal.
We did not see one child or group of friends at this resort. I am guessing it’s due to the steep prices and/or the long flight to get there. That was fine by me – no offense, but after spending this kind of money, who wants to hear kids playing.
We took a regular boat (33 feet long), which was my preference because the canoes were just too low to the water if you know what I mean. The boat was well-equipped, had a canvas top to block out the direct sun, and also offered an easy ramp to get in and out of the water. We were too chicken to actually get off the boat despite the fact that everyone claims the sharks won’t bother you since food is in abundance for them, but this is how the trip played out. You catch the boat, and while heading out to the reef, the captain points to where you are headed. Funny how he said, "It’s about 100 yards from that hut"… um, that was OUR hut he was pointing to. That was comforting since we had been in that water everyday since we had got there.
Anyway, you sail to the barrier reef and are given masks and snorkel gear with no fins because they scare the sharks. While you are preparing yourself, the staff begins to chum for sharks. They were throwing in squid, tuna, and mahimahi among other things. Their goal was to not only get sharks near the boat but also stingrays and as many other smaller fish as possible. The two guides hop in the water and tie a rope around two large pieces of coral (sometimes if your tour agency meets up with another, they tie the rope from boat to boat and they do the excursion together with a large group). The sharks apparently know not to cross this rope (right). Once in place, you are expected to jump into the water (about 4 feet deep) and stand behind this rope. While holding onto the rope for stability, the guides start to feed the sharks and put on a small show for you. Thankfully, the water is so clear that we could see everything that was going on from the boat. This way we weren’t disappointed that we missed much in fear of our lives. Along with the 4- to 5-foot blacktip reef sharks, we saw 3-foot sting rays, angel fish, butterfly fish, and tons of other tropical fish that I couldn’t name if I tried. Almost like they were in a trance, the sharks would go to the rope and turn around every time. It was very odd. yet interesting (I would have been peeing in my pants had I been in the water with a shark coming straight for me). The guide said to not to be disappointed if the sharks didn’t get close to the rope because sometimes they just aren’t interested.
So the excursion was fun, everyone seemed to be happy, and now it’s over, so everyone is told to pack back into the boat. Some people were complaining they were cold and didn’t pack properly - obviously that wasn’t an issue for us (I guess they figured after swimming it would be hot out, so they didn’t pack extra clothes). The staff had prepared cut pineapple and began to serve that and fresh coconut milk. Before you could say French Polynesia, the weather started to rapidly change and it began to pour. The staff started running around the boat to drop the canvas "walls," and meanwhile, the boat got turned around. Well, now it’s pouring, there is no visibility, and the staff has no idea which way is back to the hotel. Although they were all speaking in Tahitian, it was obvious that they were semi-freaking out. Great, that’s all I needed to see. We have sharks circling our boat, the locals have no clue how to get back, and people onboard are starting to have panic attacks. I thought that, for a brief second, the movies Blue Lagoon, Castaway and Gilligan’s Island flashed before me. Classic. So after a lot of arguing, one of the staff members took a shot, I think, and although we weren’t headed straight for our motu, we got close enough that he tried to make it seem as though it was a planned detour. It was amusing now but very scary then. Overall, it was a great experience that lasted about 5 hours instead of 3. It made for great stories to say the least. Maybe next time we would consider going in since we saw what took place, and it is said that no one has ever been touched by a shark on one of these trips before. This is highly recommended.
This is definitely considered (as it should be) the finest dining on Bora Bora. It is located north of Vaitape on the lagoon and with only 47 seats. Reservations must be made (way in advance) and can be done online or with your concierge. The website is www.topdive.com (Top Dive is also a hotel). It's extremely romantic, with beautiful views of the Bora Bora Lagoon. (If you are out on the terrace, you can watch manta rays in the water below you.) The restaurant has huge cathedral ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, marble floors, candles everywhere—just about everything inside was done top-notch. It’s open for lunch and dinner and offers a free shuttle bus from the docks and other hotels on the island. Their chef, Phillipe Bachman, creates many exquisite dishes using fresh seafood, some even flown in from New Zealand. Their menu is seasonal, and the wine list is extensive. (This is not a place you will find chicken served). They also offer a prix-fixe, three-course menu. I had mushroom raviolis and the mahimahi (the chutney was insane). My husband had the warm ham salad and the filet of duck. We shared a crème brulee for dessert, which was incredible. Our meals and the service were excellent (on the slow side, like the rest of French Polynesia), and we wanted for nothing. The portions tend to be on the smaller side, but we both left satisfied. If you typically do not order an appetizer and dessert, this place probably isn't for you (you will leave hungry). They also offer a five-course tasting menu with wine if that is something of interest to you. Special meals can be prepared with advance notice. It’s definitely worth the trip—not as pricey as we expected, and we didn’t hold back either. It is highly recommended.
Formerly called Temanuata, it is now considered French "superior" dining. This is another restaurant that offered a free shuttle from the docks (most restaurants do to be competative). This place was casual, with indoor seating but open windows and doors, so you felt like you were outside.The walls are made from coconut tree trunks, and there are several shells hanging from the beams in the ceiling. The food was acceptable but overpriced. Quite honestly, we were shocked that our concierge spoke so highly of it and that this is considered by the locals to be the best restaurant on the island – have they been to Top Dive? The service left a lot to be desired and they were a bit rude. They were slow – VERY slow – dinner took us over 2 hours. Chef Eric Lafond, who once cooked at Hotel Bora Bora and Le Meridian, has really lost his edge. For dinner, my husband had the steak, which was (at best) acceptable. I had a local catch of the day that came with a small tasting of poisson cru. The fish was so plain that I could have made it myself at home. We both had the house salad to start, which was good. We weren’t served our drinks until the middle of our meal despite the fact that the restaurant was empty and we asked several times. When it came time for a supposedly "delicious" (preordered) dessert, we knew we were going to miss the last Nui water shuttle back to the hotel, so we tried to cancel the dessert, explaining to them why and asking to have their shuttle take us back to the dock as soon as possible. You would think we were asking for their first born – they made such a big deal about it. Mind you, our dessert hadn’t even been made. The owner/manager (Regis Jaquet) made a big deal, yelling at us in front of the other patrons. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones in the same situation, and when a few other people heard what was going on, they chimed in as well. Now feeling like an idiot and knowing everything on this island is word of mouth, he became very apologetic to us and personally drove us to the dock. Although we appreciated the ride and his apologies, they were far from sincere. Had it not been for the other couples complaining as well, would he have continued to berate us in front of the restaurant? Who wants to have a night out and pay for that? Note: It is closed on Saturdays for lunch and all day Sunday, and they do NOT accept American Express. I do not recommend eating here.
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