Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bora Bora, Not Just For Honeymooners

Last Thanksgiving we went on a scouting trip to Bora Bora, and got to live large at the St. Regis.  I know, we were ridiculously lucky.  Now most people think Bora Bora is so so far, and they can't imagine ever making the trek, except for once in a lifetime, but really, if you live in L.A., where you can get nonstop flights daily to Tahiti (about 8 hours), it really isn't so bad.  So we broke up the trip by spending two days and a night in Disneyland on the outbound, and a couple of days in L.A. on the return.  The flights leave late at night from LAX, so we had a full day at Disneyland, even a dinner at Napa Rose, the fantastic restaurant in the Grand Californian hotel there, and then got the to airport and went to sleep.  Air Tahiti Nui was a really nice airline--good food, nice airplane, sweet staff. We landed in the early morning, and had to wait a long time for customs, but everyone in line was really nice (we even met a couple and their four year old daughter who come every single year, from New York, to different islands in French Polynesia), and it passed quickly.  We were starving once we got through, and had the most delicious ham and cheese baguette sandwich in the airport.

It was an easy 40 minute flight to Bora Bora, on a very nice new airplane (I'm trying to demystify the whole getting there experience), and as soon as we landed, we spotted the St. Regis boat.  Ten minutes across some of the most perfect turquoise water, and we arrived at the St. Regis.
It's pretty much as perfect as you might imagine it to be--insanely sweet staff, elegant decor, a lovely spa, bungalows perched over the water, excellent food.  For the first couple of nights, we stayed in a beachfront villa, that had its own pool.  Matt wanted to be in the over-water bungalow, but I loved the beachfront, because Clara was able to run down the beach, jump into the little pool, and not feel constricted, like you end up feeling in the bungalows.  Not that I wouldn't want to stay in those if I was there without a child, but I would definitely  go beachfront villa if travelling with a family.

In our room when we checked in was one the most perfect welcome baskets ever--made of palm leaves, it had arm bands, sunblock, pool toys, and a whole lot of bath products and rubber duckies.

Food choices are Te Pahu, which is where breakfast and lunch are served daily. One of the first questions they asked was what Clara would like for lunch, assuming she wouldn't want the adult menu, and she asked for ravioli.  Not only did they whip it up right then, they asked her every day from then on if she wanted ravioli for lunch.  And they asked us what she would like for dinner, and no matter what restaurant we were going to eat at (there are three), they would have the order put in there.  It was probably the most thoughtful food ordering moment I have ever had with Clara. I almost cried.  Not that I want her to be a princess that gets whatever she wants, off menu, but I loved that the management was so thoughtful, and keen to make the experience way beyond expectations.

We swam in the Lagoonarium, and snorkeled, and saw the most beautiful fish ever.  And the kids club had very sweet programs, like cooking with the chef, in the kitchen, and making leis.

Here's my list from my journal about my favorite things from the resort:
*Food:  fantastic chefs that use the local product whenever they can--they don't cook in a complicated way--they source well and are given the means to get the best product.  So much variety in the restaurants that we never got bored.
*Excellent wine list:  mostly from France, and when we were there, the sommelier was Florent Bzik, and he was super knowledgable.
*Everyone knew Clara by name, and remembered what she liked.  I don't know if this was memory or computer, and I don't care.  It was sweet.
*Superb therapists in the spa--excellent Thai massage.
*No overly gratuitous luxury--staff was just so well trained--attentive and thoughtful and kind.
*Amazing snorkeling.
*Best views ever of paradise.

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