Terribly Overpriced. Lack of Service. The Tune of the St. Regis. A review of The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
Just so I am up front with my biases, I had a below average experience at the St. Regis, but an excellent time in Bora Bora. Thus, you know my sentiments right up front.
Not everyone here will have a bad experience and not everyone will have a good experience either. My fiancé, for instance, had a great time and thinks very highly of this hotel. I, on the other hand, think very highly of Bora Bora, but wish that I stayed at any hotel other than the St. Regis. In my personal estimation, the St. Regis is for a very particular type of person. If you are not this type, then you will likely have a similar experience.
The St. Regis is the best hotel for....
those who want to relax on the beach and do absolutely nothing but enjoy the beautiful environment. My fiancé wanted to do nothing more than sit on the beach and at the pool all day long, every day. She truly enjoys doing this. She enjoys going to the spa, sleeping early and laying out in the sun every day. The hotel does not really have to do much to satisfy this type of person. They pretty much have a good time no matter what the hotel does or does not do. Although, I will say, the St. Regis even managed to upset my fiancé! As you may or may not know, the St. Regis has beautiful rooms. Far and away the best rooms Bora Bora has to offer. On the sundeck of these rooms stands a beautiful gazebo. The gazebos are nice, because they light up at night and it's a wonderful place to have dinner. They face the main island in our room, which makes them extra special. Yet, the light bulb was out since we got here making it impossible to have dinner in the gazebo. You'll learn that Bora Bora is pitch black at night. We called twice every day from when we got here to have someone fix the gazebo. Three people have even entered into the room and looked at the gazebo on separate occasions. Yet, they've all said the same things: we'll fix it later or they'll ask in a rhetorical tone, "can we fix it tomorrow?" So here we are, on Friday, the last day here, and we still can't have dinner in our own room (that we are paying $1000.00+ for) because the, the management at the St. Regis can't manage to help us fix a light bulb.
To be fair though, the St. Regis will make certain people very happy. The food here is great. It is more than great. Everything I've eaten here has been outstanding. But you'll pay for it. The most basic breakfast in the world: cereal, a side of bacon, orange juice and coffee for 2 costs nearly $100.00. That's the cheapest of the cheap you can get. Bora Bora, in general, is highly inflated. It's one of the most expensive places in the world. But it is manageable. The St. Regis, however, takes this to another extreme. Yet, once again, this place has everything that a laid back person could ever dream of. They have a great spa, a great swimming pool, they bring you coconut on the beach, cold towels with which to wipe your face and the place is completely secluded. Thus, for some people, this place is absolute heaven.
The St. Regis is not the hotel for...
Those who want a balanced vacation filled with relaxation and an abundance of water activities. From my personal experience with the St. Regis, I want to emphasis that you should avoid this hotel if you are coming to Bora Bora to involve yourself in an abundance of activities. The St. Regis has an activities list, which was, to put it lightly, a very bad idea. If one wants to do something that is not on that activities list, and he or she is staying at the St. Regis, it's likely not going to happen. It was extremely difficult to do some activity that is not on the St. Regis activities list. The St. Regis will do nothing to help you. It's the worst. For example, I just wanted to go snorkeling at the coral gardens. Yet, the only thing they have on their activities list that has to do with the coral gardens, a popular snorkly spot, is an all day excursion where they briefly stop off at this place. If you want to do this excursion, you have to pay $800.00 for the boat!!!!! And the best part is, you will only get to snorkel there for a brief period of time and have to do the rest of the excursion. On another occasion I went to the office and asked if I could simply go snorkeling. I just want to snorkel. Not a big deal. We're in Bora Bora right? Wrong! The only way I can snorkel is if I go on one of their excursions. This means, I would have to go on the Bora Bora lagoon tour, which was really nice, but I'm not going to feed the stingrays and sharks and go around the entire island every time I just want to snorkel and see some fish! But that is what the St. Regis wants you to do. Also, let's imagine you're willing to comply with their extortionary demands. There's like 2-3 total activities that involve snorkeling on the Activities List. Two of which cost over $800.00 to do!!!! So far there has been two reasonable activity here that involve snorkeling. The Bora Bora Lagoon tour and the Lagoonarium. The other activities were not so appealing to me. Don't get me started on the Jet Skis. They take you around the island on the jet skis, but notice you do this exact trip on the Bora Bora Lagoon tour. Moreover, the snorkeling stops are well below average on the St. Regis Jet Skis tour. You see no fish on this tour. Avoid the Jet Skis at all costs. Which again, if you plan on doing activities, you'll have a difficult time as I've already noted. The worst part of this whole vacation was when we were on the jet skies and the tour guide pointed out to the coral gardens but then took us to a different snorkeling stop!!!!! I could detail the entire activities list, but that would take too long. Just know, that activities + St. Regis = Big Problems!
Transport System for Going out to Dinner:
Basically, you have two times to go out. You can go out either at 6:15 if you are going out to any restaurant other than Bloody Mary's or 7:45 if you plan to go out to Bloody Mary's. But here's the worst part about this. The ride coming home is at 9:30 or 10:30! This means you have to stay on the island, which has basically nothing to do at night, for over an hour and a half after you finish with dinner! The taxies basically only take you to and from the restaurants.
As a side story to the level of service offered by the St. Regis having to do with these taxies, I offer you the following: Yesterday, we get to the dock shortly before 6:15 in the evening. The front office or reception is right next to the dock. About 20 steps away. We go into the front office to change our currency in order to pay for dinner. The front office takes over 20 minutes to do a simple task such as being able to change currency. During our previous adventures out to the island, the front office managed to delay our boat for others who were a little late. But when we were a little late, thanks to the front office, the boat managed to ship off. No problem right? They'll just get us another boat. They did get us another boat but forgot to get us another taxi from the dock to the restaurants. And just so you don't think we're giving the St. Regis a hard time, there is like 2 taxi drivers on the whole island. Meaning, we could not simply get into a taxi when we got to the dock on the main island. All the taxis are arranged!! Thus we ended up sitting at the dock for over an hour and a half until the "Bloody Mary's" ship arrived at 8:00 pm. The guide for the Bloody Mary's, who worked at the St. Regis, told us she would get us a cab only if we paid for it! HA! After they caused us to miss the boat and the cab, they wanted us to pay for the cab!
Personally speaking...I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to fully research outside companies and book some excursions with them if it is possible. It's my own fault for not doing this. I simply thought that if I wanted to do something, the hotel, being as prestigious as it is, would help me out. In my experience with the St. Regis, this did not happen. They would not help me at all.
I'll just say, that if I were to go to the St. Regis and do it all over again, I would do some heavy research on outside operators to see if it would be possible to book activities with them. Otherwise, I suggest booking the Bora Bora Lagoon Tour and the Lagoonarium activities with the St. Regis. I had a blast on both of those tours and they were "relatively" inexpensive.
Reviw of the St. Regis Beaches:
I am going to be as honest as I can. I did not think very highly of the swimming water and the beaches at the St. Regis. The water around the OWB is relatively murky compared to other waters in Bora Bora. It's also pretty deep. Around 10-15 feet deep or so. I avoided swimming off of the OWB.
As for the beach at the St. Regis. I would have to say it was well below average compared to other beaches in Bora Bora. The beach at the St. Regis is man made. The sand is brought in at the hotel. This is very problematic because when you walk about five feet into the water, the sand becomes filled with alge. It's kindof gross. I did not have this problem with any other water/beach in all of Bora Bora. Moreover, the water gets deep after about 10-15 feet off-shore. There aren't many fish off the St. Regis beach.
I had a chance to see and swim in the waters around the Le Meridian. The Le Meridian without question, tops the St. Regis in this area. The water in and around the Le Meridian is very clear. Much more clear than the water around the St. Regis and at the St. Regis beach. Moreover, the water in the Le Meridian is very shallow. It makes for perfect conditions for swimming. Especially off of the OWB. I had a chance to see the water arond the OWB, and I can attest that it's shallow (about waist high) and beautiful to swim in. If I could go back, I would probably choose the Le Meridian over the St. Regis exclusived on this basis.
Overall, the St. Regis is an o.k. place. The big problem with the St. Regis is that the management won't help you very much when it comes to trying to do things not on their activities list or with anything that involves spending your money outside of the hotel. For example, if you want to book a dinner on the main island, they'll have to drop their 2 cents on how the new restaurant at the hotel is superior. They will indeed book the dinner for you, but their chiming in every time I wanted to do something outside of the hotel suggests to me that they simply want you to spend as much money as you can at the St. Regis. Even if spending your money at the hotel will partly spoil your time in Bora Bora. That's the feeling I got from the St. Regis. They're willing to sacrafice your experience a little if they know they could get you to do their activities, eat their food and spend your money at the hotel.
If you want to book an outside excursion or do something very specific, they wont' help you. They'll just smile and ignore everything you have to say and suggest that you do one of their activities.
Notice here there is a running theme that I'm trying to drive home. There is nothing wrong with the St. Regis per se. Only with the way they conduct their activities. They want you to use their list, which will be inadequate for some people (those who want to snorkle at least - I didn't much care for many of the other activities beside the 4X4 Safari & Snorkling), and will not help you book with outside agencies. They will actually make it difficult for you. The level of service is very schizophrenic. One moment they will offer a level of service that is far beyond anything I've ever seen. The next moment, it's the worst service ever! I don't get it. But that's how the hotel is operating.
Yet, I want nothing more than to be wrong about the St. Regis. I really want everyone who goes there to have the best time of their lives. Bora Bora is a wonderful place, and I will be coming back very soon. Sooner rather than later I hope. My overall experience was excellent. I had one of the best vacations I've ever had. It's far more likely than not that you'll have an excellent experience at the St. Regis.
Suggestions for the St. Regis:
The hotel and OWB are breath taking. The St. Regis is, without questions, the most beautiful resort I've ever seen. The St. Regis has obviously done quite a bit to make this a memorable experience for anyone who decides to stay. Please don't ruin it by having such a ridged activities list. If someone simply wants to snorkle, or dive at a particular location, you should help them. It makes their experience much more memorable. By the same token, you should be able to help them book outside activities. Not doing so detracts from the overall good feel of the hotel. A large number of people come to Bora Bora to do water-based activities. You're going to many of your patrons if you don't drastically change the way you conduct your activities. Take from this what you will, but I won't be shocked to see another negative review within the next month or so.
Basically, don't come here if you are the active type. Some people like to go on vacation and do a lot of activities. Others like to come on vacation and chill out the entire time. Neither is right or wrong. But one thing is objectively true. The St. Regis underperforms and is well below average when it comes to doing any kind of activities. Yet, by the same token, it is heaven for those who want simply want to relax