When I got back from paradise, a few people asked if I had also brought back a nice souvenir–or otherwise subtly implied as a baby. HA! I had considered it, thinking it could be a Bora Bora baby, but we had promised each other a year before seriously trying and we were just shy a few months. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun 😉
I never thought of myself as the kind of person who could enjoy staying at a resort the whole time and just lounging around, though I had always told myself that one day I’d try it. Well, here we are! A few excursions (private island tour, snorkeling with sharks/rays, and jet skis) definitely broke up the 6 days and 5 nights we spent in Bora Bora. The rest of the time, I rather enjoyed hanging out at the resort, even though we had the option to take a transfer ferry to the sister resort on the mainland. I never felt so bored that I wanted to go. [See my Intercontinental comparisons of the 2 sister resorts.]
One of the coolest things I liked about the Intercontinental Thalasso was how it uses sustainable energy sources and and draws deep seawater to recycle for its energy, especially the air conditioning. I’m all for going green, so I absolutely LOVE this aspect!
Upon arriving at the Bora Bora airport, we collected our items and proceeded to line up at the little kiosk for Intercontinental Hotels. There are 2 hotels, but they will sort your bags to go to the correct hotel. I believe they tag the Le Moana guest bags with orange and the Thalasso guest bags with blue. We were each given a fresh lei, and then told to wait to get into our transfer boat. I’m not sure how they just knew where to take everything, but I guess there’s not too many people to keep track of and they are able to figure out which luggage goes where.
We took a short 20-minute boat ride to our resort and pulled into the dock. This dock is important to remember as the excursions will pick you up from here. They usually blow on a conch shell to announce arrivals! From the dock, there are little golf carts waiting to take all the guests and luggage in. Again, no need to worry about your luggage, as they magically sort it and send it to your rooms! Our cart driver took us a short tour of the resort first, pointing out the restaurants, the lobby, the concierge, the spa, the lagoon, the chapel, and the pool before dropping us off back at the lobby to check in.
We thought “checking in” meant waiting in a long line in the lobby like we did at the Intercontinental Moorea, but actually it was quite streamlined! Each guest/couple/family got their own hotel agent to sit with them in a private waiting area where there were cold iced teas and cold floral scented face towels to wash your face and cool off while you waited!
We handed them our Costco itinerary and passports, and our hotel agent left to get us our rooms. During this time, another guy came around and took pictures for us in front of Mount Otemanu. He said this was a welcome tradition, and we didn’t know it then, but they printed out the picture for us to take home when we checked out!
Our agent came back and handed us room keys and made sure we knew where to eat. We were told to call for reservations at either Sands or Reef for dinner (even though afterwards I found it pretty unnecessary as none of the restaurants were ever really full). Since the hotel was doing renovation, we actually got ~$60 credit each day to spend on food and beverages! This was perfect since our package included breakfast and dinner and the extra money could go towards lunch/alcohol! 😉 She drove us to our overwater bungalows to give us a tour and told us that a porter would drop off our luggage later.
It’s a nice long stroll from the rest of the resort to the overwater bungalows. The Intercontinental has two branches of rooms that split into U’s or V’s. Our branch was closer to the arrival dock and faced the ocean with some partial mountains. I realized later that they had actually upgraded us from the Emerald Villas that faced the beach/lagoon to the Sapphire Villas that faced the ocean and were farther out.
I realized that I didn’t actually take photos of the room…mostly just videos! Hopefully I’ll get a YouTube site up and running some time 🙂 But in any case, all these bungalows are pretty fantastic!! They are set up like a long rectangle–very spacious and luxurious. When you enter, there’s almost like an entrance foyer. To the right is a living room with a love seat and arm chair and office desk/chair. There’s also an ottoman and a coffee table that has a glass bottom to see to the bottom of your bungalow! The table top actually slides open so you can feed the fish too. Sadly our bungalow didn’t have a lot of fish nearby, but my parents had more luck! They gifted us with a plate of fresh fruit, some pastries, and a bottle of champagne upon arrival! 🙂
To the left of the foyer/entrance is the bedroom. There a door that can shut here to close off the bedroom to the foyer and living room if you’d like more privacy. It was a big beautiful king bed that faced large floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out at the ocean view. So when we woke up, we always saw the calming blue waters! There was a nice fan above to keep us cool, in addition to AC that turned off whenever doors were opened. Again, with the energy conservation! There was a large walk-in closet and a noticeably larger safe than the one we had in Moorea to store items. To give you an idea, my husband’s Surface wouldn’t fit in the Moorea safe, but it could in this one with plenty of room for more!
Beyond the room there was the bathroom, with the rainfall showerheads (my favorite kinds!), double vanity sinks, and a deep soaking tub with views of the water! I loved their toiletries, as the products were of noticeable great quality, smelled great, and came from their famous spa.
We could not be happier with our overwater bungalow here. It was truly one of the most luxurious rooms we’ve ever stayed in with morning and turn down service! I have to say sometimes the turn down service was a little spotty, as one time they removed our beach towels, and another time I noticed we did not get the notification of inclement weather that my parents got. (The weather ended up being fine.) My parents said one of their bathrobes got cleaned up out of the room too! But overall, they were little things that I didn’t care too much about and they were easy to fix.
On the first day, the hotel even invited us to a little “meet and greet” with the hotel manager/staff in the lobby and gave us free champagne/wine and appetizers! Service overall was quite top-notch and all the staff were friendly and tried to be as helpful as they could! Everyone you run into will shout “la orana!” at you. This is their welcome greeting. They thank you at every turn too with a “maruuru!”
The most obvious activity is to swim and hang out around your own bungalow, which you’ll probably find yourself doing a lot. Before we came to Bora Bora, I bought a giant floatie on Amazon! (I’m a huge Amazon junkie.) I knew I wanted to chill outside our bungalow and what better way to do it than a big cute floatie, right?? I ended up picking this Jasonwell Unicorn Floatie after reading reviews and comparing prices. I think I bought it for around $40 but the price seems to be even lower than that now!
I liked that this unicorn floatie came packaged neatly in a knapsack bag and had extra patch pieces in case it got punctured. It was very durable/sturdy, though, and supposedly strong enough to hold about 400 pounds (2 people)! We didn’t test the weight limit…but it was pretty awesome. I brought an electronic air pump that we usually use for air mattresses and charged it before we left. All of this stuff took up a little carry on luggage! This thing is huge! But it was worth it 😀
My husband (and everyone else) made fun of me for getting it, but look who’s enjoying it now!! There was a big pink flamingo in the bungalow next door to us, too. What we FORGOT to bring, though…was rope. I tried to just float in the unicorn without the rope, but actually got swept out really far, almost beyond our neighbor’s bungalow! My husband had to swim out to get me because it was so hard to paddle and direct the floatie when you’re on it!
Luckily, the hotel pool boy found me some really thick rope. It was only about 10 feet long but my hubby cut it open, took out all the individual ropes inside and strung them together to make quite a decently long rope for us to use! He’s seriously so handy. 😛
Travel Pearl: Make sure to remember to bring an air pump and some ROPE to tie your giant floatie!
Included in the resort are plenty of water activities that you can rent equipment to do. There’s stand up paddle boards (SUP), kayaks, pedal boats, snorkeling gear, flippers, and maybe even little outriggers? All the equipment is lined up along the beachfront and you can tell the pool boy you’re going to use it so they give you the paddles, etc.
However, I noticed that they didn’t necessarily take down your name for the stand up boards to ensure you returned it in a timely manner or didn’t lose the paddle or anything. They do record if you rent snorkel gear, as they do want it back, but I guess they just can’t see you sneaking off with paddles and boats too far? 😛
Other activities on the resort included tennis, ping pong, pool tables, and board games in the Bubbles lounge area. Of course, there’s the pool to hang out at. And every day at 2pm, there’s a sting ray feeding on the beach shore! You can’t miss it because the sting rays start to come to shore right around that time. THEY KNOW!
There must be at least a dozen or so sting rays that come to get fed. The hotel worker will explain how best to touch them (not on the top, but on the underside where they are soft). The hotel worker explained that the sting rays have a coating on the top that protects them from predators that could eat them.
It might not seem like a whole bunch of activity, but a few hours on the water in the sun really tired me out and all I wanted to do was lounge around or take a nap! I’m reserving a separate post about the food. Coming up next!