Conrad Hilton Bora Bora Resort Review – The Best Resort in Bora Bora

Conrad Hilton – Bora Bora – French Polynesia March 2018 Presidential Villa (Over the water) 1001

Summary – Snapshot Review:

Resort: Bora Bora Conrad Hilton located on a motu surrounding the island of Bora Bora.

Suite: Presidential Overwater Villa. Was fantastic. Equal quality to The Brando. Price around $5,000-$6,000 per day. Up to 6 guests (4 comfortably).

Views of Sunrise and Sunset: Best in Bora Bora. Perfect view of sunset. Sunrise over Bora Bora.

Sunset Bar Sunset: Yes. Perfect full view of sunset. Also great for viewing storms. Glass floor for viewing fish.

Service: Amazing. Staff is excellent. Very responsive.

Dining: A great array of dining options. Chinese, French, Beach Bar, Wine Bar, and Lounge.

Dress Code: Resort casual. More upscale than most resorts, which you would assume.

Breakfast: Usually included. Pastries/danish cart, then a la carte cooked items ordering.

Food Quality: Best in Bora Bora (for resorts). Lagoon Water Quality: Amazingly clear. Lots of fish to see, and snorkel right off your villa.

How to get around resort: Bikes and golf cart pickup are provided at no charge for select villas.

Over-the-water Villa: Yes. Best villas face west and with a plunge-pool. Excellent view of the sunset.

Booking: Book through website, or directly via email to reservations at the resort. Pay up-front for stay, and receive a substantial discount. Confirm pricing by checking Expedia.

Didn’t Work in Villa: sauna, hottub, bathroom charge outlets (110V/220V), only 4 internet access point connections. Bikes had mostly rusted chains and hard to adjust seats (a pretty common problem for the tropics due to corrosion of sea air). Bluetooth could only be turned off by staff, and beeped when not in use.

Needed as part of Presidential Villa Experience: Sink for bar area. Kitchen. Hammock. Firepit.

Website: Cluttered and busy. Needs work. Get rid of black background. Needs better user experience.

Full Review: The Conrad Hilton Resort is a world-class resort located on a motu surrounding Bora Bora, and in my opinion, ranks higher than the Four Season’s Bora Bora. The location, staff, and feel, is magical. The location in the crystal clear blue water, hilly terrain, and over-the-water villas put you immediately into pure bliss. As if were not enough to be in the magical Bora Bora, this resort will confirm you are indeed in paradise. Has the best resort sunset views anywhere Bora Bora of the lagoon, colors of water, sky, and sunsets. Overall Impressions: This is my first stay at the Conrad Hilton. I’ve been coming to Bora Bora since 2002, and have somehow missed this pearl of the islands. I’ve been so enamored by the Four Season’s, that I have forgot to try new things. The Conrad resort has undergone extensive renovations recently, and it shows.

Side Track – Large Group Travel is promoted by the Four Season’s: The problem with the Four Season’s resort , is that they cater to large travel and corporate groups, which unfortunately spoil the experience for their traditional luxury traveler. I experienced this first at the Four Season’s in Punta Mita, then in Costa Rica. It’s tarnished their reputation, and quite frankly, I’ll just avoid them. Why ? Because incentive and large corporate group travel brings people to the resort, which are more accustomed to a binge-drinking Holiday Inn or all-inclusive resort, without respecting other guests, and their experience. For these large group guests, rules are optional, including respect. It’s what I expect on a Carnival Cruise, but not at a top-end luxury property where you’re paying a minimum of $2,000 a night. For the Four Season’s profit margin, large group and incentive bookings,  is like shooting fish out of a barrel, since corporate travel spenders don’t mind spending huge amounts of money. Someone needs to coach the corporate group guests on proper behavior, so it doesn’t interfere with the other guests. It’s as if the staff is afraid to even broach the subject with the group handlers, worried that they might book somewhere else next year.

Ok, back to the review… Best Stay in French Polynesia: The best luxury (very high end) traveler, will be well taken care of at The Brando and the Conrad Hilton. The perfect vacation would be a 3 day stay at The Brando, and 3-4 days at the Conrad Hilton.

Just an amazing resort. Relatively seamless transitions for check-in, activities planning, dining, and just pure relaxation.

Check-in: The still antiquated check-in still exists. Even though I had already provided my credit card (paid for stay in advance) and had emailed passports, they were still requested at time of check-in. I don’t know about you, but when I arrive, I want to get right into relaxation. The Four Season’s and The Brando are the only top-end resorts which take you directly to your villa. This is one lesson the Conrad Hilton could learn, for a better guest experience. A better process would be to have the guest complete that information via email, prior to arrival. It would organize the check-in, and provide a seamless experience. Our butler took us for a short tour of the resort on a electric golfcart, before we were shown to our Overwater Presidential Villa. This resort is unique in that it has a spa and beautiful overlook vantage point a few hundred feet above sea-level on a hill. The colors of the lagoon and coral really pop from this viewpoint, and the view is spectacular. The best of any resort in Bora Bora.

Overwater Presidential Villa: We had four in our group, which was perfect for the large Villa. There was a master bedroom with huge bathroom and a view from the vanity and bath which are to die for. The second large master had two double beds. There is a second story level, which has a third area that can be made into a bed for another two people, for a total of six. There are two master baths on the first level, then a third bathroom with shower on the second (top) level. The top level also includes a TV, living room, bathroom, sauna (didn’t work) outdoor patio deck with hottub (didn’t work), outdoor lounging area, large dining table and bar. Oh, did I mention the great view ? The first level has the master bedrooms, and a living room with TV, bluetooth speakers, and bar area with fridge. The bar fridge had a selection of small airline-type liquor bottles, snacks, and mixers. For this level Villa, the contents were provided at no charge, and refilled once per day. The outdoor deck was amazing. Divided into to levels, the upper level had a outdoor lounge with cushions and a plunge pool. The deck extended to each of the master bedrooms, with chairs and access from each bedroom suite. Below the plunge pool deck level is the swim deck, which had two lounge chairs for soaking up the wonder South Pacific sunshine, and then a swim ladder which went down about six feet to reach the water. The depth is 6-8 feet, and crystal clear.

For Couples and Families: Perfect honeymoon location ? Yes. But it’s also for everyone else, who can afford the entry price. The resort is great for couples and for families. There were plenty of activities for all ages.

Feeding the Fish: While it’s probably not the best for fish food, bread worked pretty good. They do sell small bags of proper fish-food (which smelled just awful – so I suppose the fish like it) for $10 Euro per small bag. I recommend you just buy a bag at the Chinese market (Chin’s) in Viatape for better value.

Sea Life: While not as good as the Pearl Beach Resort (one of the best areas for viewing rays during the day, small fish and sharks at night), the water at the resort was very clear and great for snorkeling. The water is much clearer than the Four Season’s (which is a murky clarity below the over-the-water villas).

Dining: You have multiple options:

  • Iriatai French Restaurant: Not being a big fan of French cuisine, I did not try this venue. This is also where they serve breakfast (which is excellent). 7:00am-11:00am breakfast. 6:30-9:30pm dinner.
  • Banyan Chinese Restaurant: Excellent Chinese food. 6:30-9:30pm dinner.
  • Tamure Beach Grill: Wonderful lunch and snacks. 11:30am-3:30pm lunch. This is where they have the Polynesian night (on a Tuesday night when we were there).
  • Upa Upa Lounge Bar: Features a glass floor deck to reflect the beautiful crystal green/blue water where you can watch the fish. We had some cocktails there and watched the sunset and a storm roll in. One of the most perfect views of all resorts in the South Pacific.
  • Iriatai Wine Bar: Next to the French Restaurant. Didn’t have time to sample the bar.
  • Tarava Pool Bar: Swim-up bar, and cocktails for the pool and beach area.
  • Room Service: Since our villa was located at the end of the pontoon, it takes a bit longer for food to get there. But the food was excellent. Well prepared, and presented by our butler.

SPA: The resort spa is located near the top of the hill, with commanding (and relaxing) views of the lagoon and ocean. The facility is sparkling clean, fresh, and new. The mens changing room was good, except that the automated sensor lights turned off within a few minutes, leaving you in the dark. Recommend a simple light switch, and use LED lights if you want to save on energy consumption, without interfering with the guest experience (if you are relaxing, you’re in no rush to beat the motion sensor to keep the lights on).

Wifi: The Wifi connections throughout the resort are good, and good bandwidth, but the device limitations are poor. We were only offered four device connections for our stay, albeit our butler offered work-arounds by using other in-use villas and taking their connection.

Cell Signal: Excellent. There was also good 3G data. Save the roaming and just use the resort Wifi.

Activities: Lots of activities, which can be found on the website. We opted for the half day of shark and ray experience, which was wonderful. The sharks are docile, and just graceful to photograph. I use a Olympus TG-4 underwater camera, that provides photos with amazing clarity.

Amazing Staff: The staff was friendly, helpful, and timely. Equal to the Four Season’s and The Brando.

The Beach: Clean, groomed, and inviting. Front Desk: Efficient and very courteous.

Housekeeping: Usually there is morning service, and then a evening turndown service. Housing keeping was excellent. Transportation: To and from the airport, there is a power cat to transport you and your luggage dock-to-dock. There is another shuttle boat that goes to and from Viatape, the main village and port on the mainland of Bora Bora.

Tipping: While it is not customary to tip in French Polynesia, I find it a nice gesture to tip those who impress you the most (housekeeping).

Privacy: The resort is relatively exclusive. But since it is on the water, boats can go right by your villa. Villas have good separation for privacy. Security cameras are throughout the resort. I find that it was more private and intimate than the Four Season’s. The ultimate privacy (for those of you who are rich and famous), then I suggest The Brando. Oddly enough, the dining and food choices at the Conrad were far better. The Brando food options are limited, and you’ll find yourself craving more variety, which is offered at the Conrad.

Tips for Buying Extras: There is a resort store, that is expensive. When you land in PPT there is also a store you can buy suntan lotion for about $35 Euro a bottle (yes, it’s that expensive). If you’re going to buy anything, go into Viatape on the main island of Bora Bora, and go to the Chinese owned market, where you can buy suntan lotion for $5 Euro, and buy any type of more expensive items for 1/5th the price. The main market is Chin Lee’s Market located a few blocks from the main shuttle drop-off dock, which sells fresh vegetables, soda, bottles of wine, sundries, and just about anything you want for a small store.

Suggestions: While this resort ranks at the top of my list, there is always room for improvement.

  • Broom. Would be nice to have a broom to sweep up any sand, before housekeeping can take care of it.
  • Towel hanging line or bar outside for pool towels.
  • Telescope and/or Binoculars: Have a telescope at the top floor of the villas, for stargazing at night. Have binoculars.
  • Hammock: On the villa balcony.
  • Wifi: Eliminate the device limitation for the Villa from 4, to unlimited.
  • Firepits: A really nice feature would be gas or wood firepits.
  • Villa Kitchen: Provide a basic kitchen or at least a sink for the bar area (to make it a wet bar).
  • Solar or Wind Power: They did have solar hot water for all the villas, which is great. Would like to see solar PV as well.
  • Villa Review: Before a guest checks in, do a villa review to make sure everything is working. In our case, at the top of the line villa (Presidential Villa), the sauna did not work, the hot tub did not work, the electrical outlets for 110/220V did not work, and the bluetooth had issues. Not something you expect when paying over $4,500 Euro a day.

Greetings in Polynesian:

Good Morning: la ora na (pronounced ur honor)

Thank You: Mauruuru (prounouced ma ru ru)

Thank You Very Much: Mauruuru roa (prounouced ma ru ru rowa)

Good-bye / Until We Meet Again: Nana (prounouced nana)

Cheers: manuia (prounouced manueea)

Getting There:

LAX-PPT: I used to exclusively fly on Air Tahiti Nui, but their service has fallen recently, and I suggest trying Air France, which has more comfortable (and newer) aircraft, and better on-time service. If you’ve ever had to wait three or more hours at the Papeete terminal in Tahiti, you’ll understand. Air France has a app which makes booking easy, allows seat selection, buying upgrades, etc. Air Tahiti is very old school, and really needs to invest in better on-time flight management, and convenient booking. Make it easy, and you’ll get more customers. Traveler Tip: Try to book a flight that is not full of passengers flying to a cruise or returning from a cruise. Book the cheapest far in economy, and at check-in, upgrade to business class for around $900 (works both on ATN and AF). That will save you around $3,000 each way.

PPT-BOB: You basically only have two fight options, Air Tahiti (local commuter turboprop) or private charter.

For private charter, expect to be price gauged. There used to be helicopter service, but now there is only a KingAir Turboprop, and a soon to start service using a Cessna Caravan seaplane.

Waiting in PPT for your next flight: If you get stuck on a later flight, take a quick 5 minute taxi to the Intercontinental for some breakfast or lunch. The taxi takes US cash, and Euro (but expect any change in French Polynesian Francs or just leave as a tip).

Charter Options:

Private Charter KingAir: TASC FBO Tahiti Air Services

Response Time: Poor

Bargain Pricing: No. They have the monopoly, so don’t expect much.

Sample Charter Fare: 09 mars 2018 ar 07.15AM LT Papeete to Bora-Bora Beechcraft 200 720kgs (220kgs maximum for the luggage) Price One Way: $7200 (all taxes inclusive and the use of our VIP lounge for the passengers) 15 mars 2018 at 2.30PM LT Bora-Bora to Papeete Beechcraft 200 720kgs (220kgs maximum for the luggages) Price One Way: $7200 (all taxes inclusive and the use of our VIP lounge for the passengers)

Contact: Cannelle BALDASSARI MERMET Customer Service Executive TASC FBO – Tahiti Air Services NTAA – Tahiti, French Polynesia 24/7: (+689) 40 50 44 11 Fax : (+689) 40 50 44 12 www.tascfbo.com

Better Charter Option (still waiting aeronautical approval as of March 2018): Service: Excellent.

Response Time: Amazing.

Friendly: Yes. Emmanuel BONIFAIT Responsable Ventes et Marketing Sales & Marketing Manager Tél : +689 40 50 57 94 Fax : +689 40 43 61 37 Skype : emmanuel.tcv

www.tahiti-air-charter.com