A stylish and excellent value! A review of Bora Bora Beach Resort
I have mixed feelings about writing this review as I feel like this wonderful hotel/resort is our own secret discovery. However, I had been dismayed not to find more information on the Novotel Bora Bora Beach Resort when trying to plan our trip and had vowed to write a review when we returned home. My husband and I live in northern CA and only met one other American couple at the hotel as the clientele was mostly french. We are discriminating travelers who are used to staying a Four Seasons, Ritz Carltons, and similar level properties. We travel extensively and recent destinations included Vietnam and South Africa. We wanted to make a quick escape on a budget (since we had exhausted most of our travel budget for the year) and only booked this trip 3 days prior to departure through(---). I figured that being in Bora Bora would be fabulous enough to make up for not staying in luxury accommodations.
For those of you who are trying to plan a vacation to Bora Bora you are probably more than aware now of the high cost of rooms there. Also food is very expensive. We were more than pleasantly surprised on our arrival to the resort hotel. Not only was it built/renovated in 2003, but it was designed and decorated in a very stylish manner. You won't find any plastic beach/pool/patio furniture here (that's one of my pet peeves and standards for where I will stay - furniture has to be wood). Every room has a terrace or a balcony with a table and two chairs and a view of beautifully landscaped tropical grounds. If you insist on a water view then this place is not for you, but the view of the grounds and surrounding coconut palm covered hills is still very beautiful. The rooms offer air conditioning (a wall unit - like most of the islands accommodations) that can be set on a remarkable quiet and efficient setting, a queen size bed, end of bed table/storage unit, desk, chair, very ample closet and shelf space, a remarkably quiet fridge (we usually have to unplug our refrigerator because of the noise and didn't have to this time!), bathroom with a shower (no tub), and a built in sitting area/sofa/bed. The rooms are warmly lit with tasteful light fixtures (no florescents). The public areas are also very stylish (no clunky, cheap bamboo furniture) in a simple and modern fashion. All the buildings have palm thatched roofs and the public areas (restaurant, pool, bar, reception) are located on the beach. The 2-story buildings where the rooms are located (80 rooms total) are across the street from the public areas. This was of concern to us since my husband is very sensitive to noise and we didn't want the intruding sound of traffic from a road. Fortunately our room was set away from the road and although at times you could here some traffic, it was not disturbing. The road is not large, was not that busy, and people can't or don't drive that fast. We spend most mornings enjoying coffee and croissants (from the next-door Le Tiare Market) on our balcony and were not bothered at all by road noise.
The service: The staff was fantastically friendly and helpful from the moment we arrived until the moment we departed to their smiles and waves. They helped make our stay even more special. All our transfers from and to the airport and check-in/check-out went seamlessly. That said, if you are looking for a full-service hotel with room service, cold towels and spritzes on the beach, and an ever-hovering staff then this hotel is probably not for you. The price reflects a less high maintenance vacation where you may have to occasionally ask for fresh beach towels or walk-up to the bar to order a drink.
The location: The location of the hotel was very good - convenient and quite picturesque. It is especially nice for those of you who want to dine out or purchase food (cheese, fresh baguette, croissants, juice) etc. from a store as the Le Tiare market is practically across the street. Also one of the better, lesser expensive restaurants on the island (Le Bounty) is also located next door. Other restaurants will pick you up from the hotel free of charge. The hotel is also on one of the nicer beaches of Bora Bora with fabulous snorkeling off a nearby motu (be aware that the beaches - meaning the actual sandy areas - on the main island are not that fantastic in general, but the colors of the sand and water and the palms are beautiful). The hotel offers free kayaks which you can take to the above mentioned snorkeling spot known as the coral gardens (it's like being in an aquarium). I have never seen so many fish and we have snorkeled many times in the caribbean and also on the nearby island of Moorea. We also rented a little boat 2x from the vendor (Guy and Maguy's) on the hotel's beach and went around Bora Bora's lagoon picnicing on motus and snorkeling in fantastic spots (about $150 per/day - expensive, but worth it). On these trips we saw a turtle, rays, and manta rays) There is also a respected dive outfitter (Nemo's) next to the hotel.
The food: We had a few buffet breakfasts (the only type of breakfast available) at the hotel and they were good with scrambled eggs (the kitchen gladly cooked them more well-done for me), sausage, cheese, sliced meats, yoghurt, cereal, tropical juice (not fresh squeezed), chocolate and regular croissants, different breads, raisin pastry, tropical fruit, fruit salad etc. It's not fancy, but the price was actually was not that bad (about $20 US Dollars) per person compared to the breakfast prices at other hotels (I know this sounds expensive, but trust me that for Bora Bora it's not). My bad eating experience at the hotel was at lunch when I had a huge, but cold and not very tasty croque monsieur (french hot ham and cheese sandwich). It was so dissappointing that we decided to spend our food money elsewhere for lunch and dinner since dining out was comparably priced or less (i.e. La Bounty). However, the setting of the restaurant and of the bar at the hotel are wonderful - overlooking the beach, water, a couple of motus, the reef, and islands in the distance.
Overall, our experience at the Novotel Bora Bora Beach Resort was excellent and we highly recommend it. It offers wonderful value for your money in Bora Bora.