Luxurious, secluded, romantic A review of InterContinental Thalasso-Spa Bora Bora
My husband and I just returned from a 4 day stay (May 14-18) at the new Intercontinental Thalasso Resort. I have given it 5 stars, in light of the restaurant service, which they did try to remediate for us... because I know that the resort just opened and once it gets the kinks worked out and the rest of the facilities completed, it will be spectacular! I apologize in advance for being so wordy, but everyone seems to eager for info on this place, so I thought I would be detailed.
Upon arrival at the Bora Bora airport we easily found the IC Thalasso desk where they helped us board their private shuttle boat. About 15 minutes after leaving the airport we were there! We pulled up to the hotel's dock and were met by men in traditional Polynesian attire who drove us by golf cart to the reception area. We were seated in chairs and given a cold wet cloth, a little pudding treat, and some fresh fruit juice. (What a pleasant change from waiting in line at a desk to check in!) After check-in (and an unexpected upgrade from emerald to sapphire bungalow!) they drove us to our bungalow where our bags were waiting for us inside. Two staff showed us all around the bungalow, where light switches and amenities were, etc. I couldn't even pretend to keep my cool, though.. my jaw hit the floor as we walked through the HUGE bungalow.. it is GORGEOUS, just like the pictures... Right at the base of the bed is the window wall overlooking the lagoon, a bathtub that overlooks the lagoon, huge shower, two flat panel TVs that swivel (so you can watch TV from the bed or the bathtub), large deck with two lounge chairs and also a table with two chairs, glasstop coffee table that opens so you could feed the fish (if there were any.. I think they are working on getting some fish in that area).. I could go on and on. Absolutely wonderful!!! Also housekeeping came once in the morning to clean and once in the evening to turn down the bed and leave a couple of cookies. For our anniversary we received a half bottle of champagne; however, some friends we met who were honeymooning never received one (see below for more on the hit-or-miss service...)
The following will open in late summer/early Sept: the Thalasso spa, gift shop, tennis courts, wedding chapel area, and heliport. I was surprised the find out the gym also wouldn't be open until then. I had thought the workout facility would be done now, but it wasn't. And of course the landscaping will need time to grow in. The beach area was very pebbly... I heard the pebbles are really coral bits in the sand. I never saw anyone in the beach chairs, maybe because the sand was so grainy? Don't know if this will be improved upon. The open air restaurants Sands and Reef were complete, but the closed-in air-conditioned one was not yet done, but it looked close. Also the buffet station set up in the back of Reef was not done. I heard that it was supposed to be open but due to a strike of cargo workers in Papeete, they were still short some supplies.
This was the only downfall on our trip... I will preface by saying that I do not consider myself to be extremely picky, and I fully took into consideration the soft opening and being on slower "island time" on the trip. That said, the service was awful. The breakfast was our choice of continental breakfast or American breakfast. There was no menu, but the waitstaff told us our choices for each. There were times when we had been seated and given coffee, but our water or bread basket was not brought out for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the table that sat after us already had their meals. So it was not overall slowness, which I could have understood, but really the hit-or-miss service. And unlike in America where a waiter will acknowledge if you have not been helped and say that someone will be right with you, they didn't even acknowledge tables that had been waiting forever.. they would look at us, and keep walking by, like they didn't know what to do or say. I frequently asked for water 2-3 times. Same odd service at dinner, except there are menus. Almost every night we would sit for 10-15 minutes without menus before we would flag someone down to ask. One night we were served two rounds of rolls in 30 minutes before our order was taken for drinks or food! We spoke with Silvio Bion, the General Manager, and also one of the other managers about this, who were extremely apologetic. They said their waitstaff is not experienced and not yet fully trained. Silvio sent us some champagne one night to compensate, and upon checkout, we requested and were comped for all of our dinner beverages due to the poor service. The waiters seemed to not be assigned to any one table, they were all kind of wandering the room and showing up at various tables.. they were friendly enough, though, and I think with adequate training, things should improve significantly. Also, I will reiterate that Silvio the GM was very nice, and apologetic, and we saw him every day walking around and chatting with guests. I think that is wonderful that he is so involved in the day-to-day operations, and I am sure that he wants to smooth out any wrinkles as well in order to make the hotel the best that it can be! Anyway, the food was good, small portions at dinner, fine with me but I heard some people complaining. For the promotional meal deal (breakfast and dinner included), breakfast was all included and dinner was up to 6947 XPF, or about $75, which was fine for an appetizer, dinner, and dessert. This does not cover any bottled water or other beverages.
There is one thing I didn't realize and maybe this is common - the IC Thalasso basically uses one company for each of their activities. For example, if you want the jet ski tour, they contract with one company, Miki Miki, to offer that... This is fine, except if you have an idea of a certain company you want to work with, based on reviews or something, email them ahead of time or call when you get there. We booked ahead of time via email with Matira Jet Ski, who turned out to be cheaper than Miki Miki. But I think if you really want to call another company, and you already have all relevant info, the IC will call them for you. We did book the shark/ray feeding through the hotel and it was a blast!! You have to do it - highly recommended, and the guides are great. Actually, all people on the island were so friendly, and they all laugh a lot. :) I probably would, too, if I lived in paradise..
FYI, there is a daily happy hour at the Bubbles bar, 2 for 1 drinks. This is especially great because their cocktails are not cheap (we knew this, we are not complaining, just offering a suggestion)... A champagne cocktail is about $22, and a normal cocktail is about $16-17. A beer is about $5-6. Another alternative is bringing your own liquor.. we brought some vodka and those crystal light lemonade packets that you shake in a 20 oz bottle of water.. very nice to have at the pool and on the bungalow deck.. :)
There is an American plug in the bathroom for shavers, but ladies bring a converter for your blowdryer. Or better yet, leave it at home! It is too humid to bother with your hair anyway (and I am from Texas)! :) Go to Bloody Mary's... very fun atmosphere, great food!! You can book this with the activity desk, and they will tell you which shuttle boats and buses to take. The rooms don't have a clock radio or alarm, so pack that if you need it.. The IC has a shuttle boat schedule for free trips to the Matira point every couple hours or so and back, and the trips are free. Sit on the left side of the plane when you fly in for the best views of BB (and the hotel!!) The temporary gift shop was set up in a tiny room by the reception.. not sure when the real gift shop will open, so if you are going there soon, don't count on buying souvenirs at the hotel.
This place is truly gorgeous, and I would love to go back in a year to see it completed!! It felt luxurious, secluded, and romantic, and I would definitely return.