St.Regis Bora Bora = Great Exotic Resort

100   Recommended

Overwater Deluxe Otemanu ...
November 8, 2018 by
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Overwater Deluxe Otemanu ...

Liked:
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Food
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Room

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Overwater Deluxe Otemanu View Villa

After spending 6 nights at Conrad Bora Bora Nui, we moved over to the St.Regis Bora Bora to compare the two properties.  I have seen a few questions in the past from travelers being interested in a comparison of Conrad vs St.Regis and answers have been few and far between.  The style of each resort is very different and there is not a single answer as to which one is “better” because it would very much depend on several factors which are mostly personal preferences, but hopefully my comments below will shed some light of what might be a better fit for each individual traveller. You can also read my review of the Conrad overwater villa in the Conrad thread.

Location

While most people will arrive at St.Regis via the airport, the transport from Conrad was actually far easier than anticipated.  The St.Regis has a free shuttle boat at 11am (except Sundays) going from the hotel to the St.Regis base in Anau, then a shuttle van which brings guests to Vaitape a bit before lunch time, with the return at 1:35pm with drop off and pick-up at the Robert Wan pearl shop.  The Conrad boat makes several trips per day to Vaitape, including one that leaves the hotel at 1:15pm and drops off guests at the Robert Wan pearl shop at about 1:30pm. So it is possible to make the transfer seamlessly without waiting.  The St.Regis also has a boat going to the main island at other times than lunch, but for a charge.  

Because the Conrad boat drops off guests in Vaitape several times per day, we found this location more convenient than St.Regis where you need to take the van after the boat or hire a taxi.  For guests who do not intend to leave the resort this might be a non-issue however, but for us given the length of our stay in Bora Bora we wanted to get away once in a while so the ease of going to the main town was desirable.  

Another note about location is that the St.Regis hotel is fairly close to the airport so you have occasional airplanes flying above your head.  It did not prevent us from having a relaxing time at St.Regis, but some guests might not appreciate so I must note that Conrad is more quiet in that regard.  At St.Regis you also have proximity to Four Seasons whereas Conrad is all by itself on a separate island and feels more secluded.  

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Resort Common Grounds

The St.Regis is huge as the resort sits on 44 acres and is the largest of all of French Polynesia.  The grounds are very well taken care of and there is lots to do without leaving the resort just to explore different parts of what St.Regis has to offer.  One of the highlights for us was the lagoonarium where you can swim with hundreds of fishes – a fantastic spot for snorkeling.  There is also a billiards table at the concierge office for rainy days. The fitness center was not very busy when we stopped by, but it looked in good condition.  The main pool in Bora Bora is very nice and there is also a secondary pool called Oasis which was very quiet so it is a peaceful place to relax when wanting to get out of the villa.  There is no bar at the Oasis pool, but there are phones so you can place your order for a snack or drink.  

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Room

I booked a Deluxe Overwater Villa with island view and because the hotel was fully booked for our dates I did not expect a Platinum/Ambassador upgrade.  I was positively surprised by an upgrade to the OWV with Otemanu view despite the hotel being full.  This villa is the same as what I booked except for the view which was different, but in my humble opinion the view was worth the upgrade.  Lots of resorts in the world can give you a view of the ocean, but the main feature of Bora Bora is Mount Otemanu.  Having a villa right in front of the mountain with sunsets behind the mountain was gorgeous and gives a Polynesian-specific experience to this villa.  I highly recommend it, and this is something you cannot get at Conrad.  

The resort is 12 years old so I was a bit leery of having an aging room compared to the more modern Conrad which was reopened last year, but I was impressed by the excellent condition of the rooms at St.Regis. The villas were built to a high standard, in fact higher standard than Conrad.  The room has high ceilings in both the bedroom and the living room, in addition to glass floors in a few areas of the room which are features missing in Conrad.  Also the villa is considerably larger than the overwater villa at Conrad.  St.Regis has a separate living room with ample space whereas Conrad is one large room with a small table on each side of the bed without a separate living area.  Where the St.Regis villa might be lacking is that since it’s not as new, the technology is not up to standards, for example you do not have international power plugs by the bed, no Bluetooth connection with a sound system like at Conrad, and no ability to connect the TV to Youtube or Netflix like you can have at the newer St.Regis Maldives which we visited one month ago.  However there is a DVD player in the bedroom at St.Regis BB which we did not have at Conrad or in the Maldives.  One other drawback of the villa at St.Regis BB is that privacy is not the best.  When sitting on the patio of our room we could see the room next to us.  If going to the round table near the water we could see not only several other villas to our left, but you are also exposed to the bicycle traffic on the bridge behind the villa.  Given the shape and orientation of villas at St.Regis as you can see on the resort map below, most villas will have a view of other villas, which is not the case at Conrad where some are more isolated and private than others. Also St.Regis BB does not offer nearly the level of privacy that we had at St.Regis Maldives which was nearly perfect. 

Water was fairly deep in front of our villa and it was safe to jump.  Water was generally calm and makes for a good swim.  However the Conrad has much more marine life around the villas – at St.Regis there was not as much coral right outside our villa.  So Conrad wins regarding snorkeling around the OWV, but St.Regis wins if you are snorkeling in the lagoonarium as mentioned earlier – this is a unique experience.  

Regarding the rooms at St.Regis vs Conrad, as mentioned above overwater villas at St.Regis are considerably larger than at Conrad given the separate living room, but in addition I would note that if you are not going to book an overwater villa and will rather book a less expensive room or perhaps even the entry level room, then what you will get at St.Regis cannot be compared with Conrad.  The first two room categories at St.Regis are the reefside villas and the beach villas, both of which have a pool.  At Conrad, the garden villa (2ndroom category) and the horizon view villa (3rdroom category) are not only smaller than St.Regis rooms, but also they do not have a pool so it makes a big difference in my opinion if you are not going to be sitting overwater.  The Conrad does have a beach pool villa like St.Regis, but strangely it is priced above the OWVs so the beach pool villa is the 6throom category at Conrad and therefore not cheap.  So if you are fine having a room on land, then I suspect the St.Regis beach villa is probably a much better choice although I have not seen it so I do not have the most informed opinion.  Also at Conrad if you book the cheapest room either with cash or points, you get the suite instead of a standalone villa (garden or horizon) so you share a wall with a neighbor on your left and/or on your right, and you might have someone above you or the fitness gym below you.  This room would be inferior to anything you can get at St.Regis.  

As a last comment about the rooms at St.Regis, I would note that most overwater villas do not have a pool, whereas they are standard in all OWVs at St.Regis Maldives, which is aligned with the fact that the overall experience is more private and luxury in the Maldives.  If you want an overwater villa with a pool in BB, then you will need to go to a much higher price point.  

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Service

Service at St.Regis is what you would expect from the high quality of a St.Regis.  Staff are trained internationally and everything was spotless and perfect.  This is not what you get at Conrad where you have more local staff doing their best and being very friendly, but without the same level of training and because of the general laid-back atmosphere there were occasional lapses.  Given our style we did not mind, and generally speaking we do not make as much use of the St.Regis butlers as most guests.  But for people who want highly personalized service then St.Regis is the answer for you and you will not be disappointed.  The Conrad has a butler service but it’s limited to the Royal OWV and the Presidential OWV so only the two most expensive room categories.  

Housekeeping in general is more thorough at St.Regis than Conrad.  Everything was perfect and the room cleaned always exactly at the time when we asked. The general maintenance outside the villa is excellent as well with a very clean deck to go in the lagoon, unlike the Conrad where the deck was less inviting due to some bird excrements.  To their defense, this might also be due to the fact that there is far more fish swimming by the villa at Conrad which is attracting the birds, and is one reason why Conrad’s snorkeling is better. 

Finally, we also had a nice bottle of champagne in our room upon arrival, which is not something offered at Conrad.  Bottom line, if you want a top notch experience for a very special occasion, St.Regis is a good choice.  

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Dining

The breakfast buffet was free as our Platinum benefit.  The quality was excellent, but choice not as varied as Conrad and it was definitely a notch or two below St.Regis Maldives which had the best breakfast I have ever seen worldwide among the international hotel chains where we are regulars.  The hot dishes at St.Regis BB were good but for the most part not local, unlike the daily Polynesian dishes that we found at Conrad.  We could make our own Bloody Mary for breakfast on Sunday morning at St.Regis (not on other days) whereas alcohol is for an extra charge at Conrad.  This is not comparable to St.Regis Maldives which has free flow Prosecco for breakfast and huge variety of food including the chef who even prepared us individualized dishes on request when we were there last month.  

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Amenities

Some have asked in this thread about wifi.  It worked ok but not great.  It was not nearly as good as in Conrad BB but acceptable for a remote island resort.  

Overall

Overall you cannot go wrong at Conrad or St.Regis. The St.Regis is clearly in a higher hotel category and a better comparison would possibly be Four Seasons rather than Conrad, but unfortunately that is not where we went so I cannot comment. If you have status with Hilton or Starriott then you could certainly pick based on your hotel chain, but if not then the best choice would depend on personal preferences, how important service is to you, if you prefer recent hardware, how much you value space, where you want to snorkel, whether you want to go to the main island during your stay, whether you intend to book the basic room type or pay for premium rooms, etc.

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