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chongl Mar 28, 16 1:05 am

Escaping to the Southern Hemisphere: A Bora Bora Getaway
Welcome to my 2nd trip report! I previously went on a 3 week trip to Europe for my honeymoon which can be found here. I can say that it wasn't long afterwards that I was looking for the next destination. One thing I noted while reading trip reports and researching possible places is that there aren't many trip reports to Bora Bora. Many trip reporters in this section have extensively documented the experience of traveling to the Maldives on honeymoons, vacations, and anniversaries. If I were to venture a guess, it'd be due to the numerous carriers that provide an extremely comfortable long haul flight in premium cabins, allowing just a short hop over to the destination.

From the continental US, the flight to Tahiti is less magnificent. The main carrier, Air Tahiti Nui, operates flights with a business and economy cabin. I had accrued a significant amount of AA miles over the past year and wanted to burn some prior to the devaluation. But since I wanted to have another trip to Asia in August, I opted to fly economy at 37.5K miles per person one way compared to the 65K for business. For two people roundtrip, saving 110K was a savings of one Etihad apartment experience, and then some. Here's to hoping I can survive 8 hours in economy after recently getting a taste of some of the best F cabins on the last outing. For the hotel, I managed to piece together 6 consecutive nights at the Intercontinental Thalasso by checking availability at least 20 times a day over the last few months.

We began by taking the train from San Diego to Union Station in Los Angeles, where we were picked up and dropped off at LAX. Last time I flew out of TBIT, it was 2012, and I was pretty surprised by how much has changed.

After checking in, we hung out until it was time to board. Quite a bit of gate lice around.

Almost there!

Arriving at PPT, we had a short hop over to BOB to begin our stay in paradise. We had a slightly longer layover since the earlier flights to Bora Bora were booked. We ended up grabbing our luggage walking around outside a little bit before going through security.

Through security, and noticed this guy had his priorities straight! Turns out, he was just going to the food vendor in the terminal.

Finally time to board, we were led out to the tarmac for our Air Tahiti flight.

Arriving in BOB through the dirty window.

After getting off the plane, we opted for the expensive boat transfer. I knew we could take the shuttle to Vaitape, followed by a taxi to Intercontinental Le Moana, and finally a shuttle to Thalasso, but since we were going to "paradise" we opted to spend a little for the convenience of arriving directly.

And pulling into the Thalasso, where all the rooms are overwater bungalows.

RTW4 Mar 28, 16 2:16 am

pictures are fantastic. thank you...

DanielW Mar 28, 16 5:39 am

Looks like a very idyllic location, can't wait for more:).

roadwarrier Mar 28, 16 11:52 am

Those bungalows look incredible. Cannot wait for the rest.

chongl Mar 28, 16 12:22 pm

Upon arriving, we were given a brief tour of the resort via a golf cart. Check-in was at 2PM and it was around 12:30 when we arrived. They sat us right by the water and went through some paperwork and safety briefings to sign. Being a platinum member via the IHG card, we were seated in a slightly sectioned off area which was nice. They bring out a cold towel and some refreshments to help cool you off.

Once that is squared away, they suggest you grab some food and return around 2PM for the check-in. We went to the Sands which is right next to the pool area. I had a Mahi Mahi sandwich and my wife had a shrimp caesar salad.

After our meal, we went back to the check-in area to wait until the room was ready. They call your name and drive you out to your overwater bungalow. A few shots of the space are below. I'll upload the short video I took if I can remember to do so later on :)

View as you walk through the front door

Living area on the left with the see through glass table

Bedroom on the right with a nice large window and killer view to wake up to

Bathroom area further to the right of the bedroom

View from the deck with the chapel in the background

For the rest of the day, we just relaxed and did some of the free activities like paddle boarding, pedal boating, kayaking, etc. There are also "cultural immersion" activities that go on at noon daily by the pool. We participated in one so far called the coconut show. Since we were the only 2 people, I participated in opening up coconuts in 2 different ways which was fun (other than being drenched in sweat).

Heading out right now...will add some more info/pictures later. Thanks for following!

mgobluetex Mar 28, 16 12:34 pm

We stayed at the IC Thalasso for our honeymoon a few years ago. It is fantastic! Make sure you go to Bloody Mary's and when you're there make sure you check out the bathroom!

We were there in October of 2010, is it too late to do a trip report?:cool:

jcamp028 Mar 28, 16 4:35 pm

Brings back memories for me as well. We went in November 2011 for our honeymoon. Stayed at the Sofitel private island though. I put together a trip report (sans pictures) which is kicking around somewhere on here.

chongl Mar 29, 16 2:01 am

Thanks for the tips! Any other suggestions for the rest of our stay? I did see a few Bora Bora trip reports when I searched, but definitely nowhere near the number of Maldives reports.

Some other pictures we took throughout the day of the resort:

This is the path leading towards our bungalow, with Mount Otemanu in the distance.

And a better shot of the chapel

Happy hour runs from 5PM to 6PM where they offer 50% off the high prices. It wasn't anything special and we elected to have dinner at the Sands restaurant again the following night.

On the topic of meals, we went for the 50% off offer at check-in, provided that you opt in for the duration of your stay. It is a fully fledged breakfast with many of your typical hash brown/potato, eggs, and bacon/sausage selection. In addition, there is an omelette station, waffles and crepes, assorted fruits, assorted meats and fish, and some Japanese offerings in the form of miso soup and some plain rice with pickled vegetables.

We did some more water activities and snapped more pictures. I learned to open coconuts during the cultural immersion activity and enjoyed the fruits of my labor afterwards (crappy Gopro picture)

Still amazed at the IS on this lens. Hand-held shot at 1/6 shutter

As mentioned preivously, dinner was at the Sands restaurant where I had a cuttlefish and squid ink linguine while the wife had a chicken dish made with coconut milk and rice. Both were very good and much better than the lunch we had the day previous.

A few shots from this morning

A short walk to the backside of the resort brings you to the outside of the lagoon

After another cultural immersion activity, we hopped in the water for a few hours, lounged around in the hammocks, and watched the daily stingray feeding. Tonight is a Polynesian buffet night, so I'm excited to see what kinds of foods are on offer. We already had a few tastings of poisson cru, which is a Tahitian salad made with raw fish and coconut milk. We plan to head to Vaitape tomorrow, followed by a spa/massage treatment on Wednesday.

mheals16 Mar 29, 16 8:06 pm

This is a fantastic trip report! My fiancé and I are in the middle of planning our honeymoon in bora bora and are trying to stay on points but with the Hilton being closed after September (we are going in November 2016) there are few options. How far out did you being looking for availability at thalasso?

chongl Mar 29, 16 10:38 pm

It was at least 6 months out, if not longer when I started looking for rooms at the Thalasso. I was hoping to just get 3 nights, with anything more than that as a bonus. I was ecstatic when I ended up with all 6 nights about 3 weeks out from departure.

I originally had 2 nights booked at the Hilton as well, but we end up having to change the date and the availability wasn't there for redeeming the free night certs.

chongl Mar 30, 16 11:02 am

The Polynesian buffet wasn't all that great, but the plus side is we got to sample a lot of new foods. After about 3 plates worth of food, it was almost 8PM, which is when the dinner show starts. We stayed a little bit before leaving (we overheard some talk that audience members would be selected to participate in a dance, and since I can't dance to save my life, it was time to go).

Dessert and fresh fruits

Salads made with different seafood

Tuna sashimi

Some shrimp with seared mahi mahi and tuna on the left

Some more tuna (partially seared) and ham carving station on the rear left

There was an offering of "coco punch" that was made with rum, passion fruit, and some other juices that was pretty good.

And a picture of the show

As mentioned earlier, we left early and had plans to retire for the night until we looked up and saw the clear skies dotted with stars. I have never seen anything like it living in a big city, so I grabbed my tripod and walked to the backside of the island again where there was a lot less light to capture some pictures. The view was simply stunning.

injian Mar 30, 16 3:38 pm

Originally Posted by chongl (Post 26410063)

Ok, that is one of the best night shots I've ever seen. Nicely done. :)

CHSDOC Mar 31, 16 6:44 am

Great report.

That barely chilled plate of raw tuna looks like a no-go to me!:)

arlflyer Mar 31, 16 11:31 am

Originally Posted by CHSDOC (Post 26414214)
That barely chilled plate of raw tuna looks like a no-go to me!:)

It's sitting on a huge bin of ice, was probably still swimming the morning of that dinner, and jumped out to me as one of the best-looking food items (of many good-looking ones) in the report! I'd personally have it as poke rather than sashimi, but now that's just splitting hairs.

A YMMV situation, I guess...

greg0ire Mar 31, 16 1:29 pm

A good friend of mine stayed at that resort and just flew back with his family yesterday. Did you see a chubby white dude (probably tipsy) with a wife, older daughter, and younger twins (boy and girl)? Shot in the dark.

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