FOUR SEASONS RESORT
BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Ah, Bora Bora. The name itself spells a kind of exotic mysticism. The contours of the landscape are so perfect as to appear sculpted. Think: jagged volcanic peaks, lagoon shimmering with the occasional ripple, palm trees a perfect hammock’shoist apart. You get the feeling that the Tahiti tourism officials never have to look far to find promotional portals of the kind that entice you to take a deep breath and step inside, briefly pausing, perhaps, to tie tight a sarong and plant a hibiscus behind your ear.
And nowhere in French Polynesia is the confluence of poster-pretty views more dramatically realised than Bora Bora, a hop by scheduled flights from the island nation’s gateway isle of Tahiti. This is the natural home of the overwater bungalow and glimpses from the air show myriad congregations of these stilted abodes reaching into lagoons like elongated wading birds. A quick dip is never more than a few hops down a ladder and top-tariff options feature swimming options on decks, which gives new meaning to that touted term of horizon pool.
Among the top of such offerings is Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora where 100 pandanus-thatched bungalow suites are arrayed along runways into the lagoon, the island’s 727m Mount Otemanu looming beyond, sometimes swirled in mist, but always looking freshly prepared as if the cast of South Pacific is about to pop out and break into song.
But what this popular property also offers is an estate of seven beachfront villas, from one to three bedrooms, with inclusions such as daily meal plan, customised mini-bar and services of a personal assistant. Suddenly there is the sense of staying in a holiday home, not unlike a rental in, say, Bali’s fashionable Seminyak or Canggu. With a beach on your doorstep, pool and al fresco dining pavilions, plus private gardens threaded with flowering vines in enlivening colours, there is an instant proprietorial sense that, in my case, almost makes me forget the resort beyond.
My beachfront villa has two ensuite bedrooms in opposite wings, a master and a twin, separated by a massive living and dining area. I could host a dinner party here but it’s much more fun to loll in the tub, wooden shutters folded back to reveal those lush plantings, or idly dip off the scoop of protected beach where the water is, well, just about as warm as a bath.
The resort is large, flat and spread out, even with a dedicated Chill Island for teens, and such acreage encourages exercise along sandy paths, with staff tootling past in golf buggies, always with a cheery “Bonjour!” or “Ia Orana!” On such promenades, walkers can feel all but enclosed by banana trees and fan-tailed palms, bright green and rich with chlorophyll this January rainy season. The pandanus, with their striding roots, always look shifty to me, as if about to run away. There’s white bougainvillea and star-shaped tiare flowers, that great fragrant constant of French Polynesia. Their heady gardenia-like scent is intoxicating. Time for another swoon and an afternoon lie-down. Susan Kurosawa is The Australian’s travel editor.