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Sofitel Private Island, Bora Bora
Holiday like an A-lister on Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island
Relaxed on the deck of an overwater bungalow, soaking in the sun. Gazing across the crystal clear lagoon at spectacular views of iconic Mt Otemanu. Sofitel Private Island made it easy to forget about winter back home and pretend to live the life of the idle rich.
This is key for any good surf and sun vacation.
For me it’s got to be ground level and beach front. I hate being in a box 11 storeys above sea level. Here on Bora Bora they go one better by building rooms on stilts above the lagoon with decks and private ladders down to tropical waters teaming with inquisitive reef fish. You can literally jump out of bed and straight into the water.
Next up is the bed. This was super-king-sized with separate mattresses on each side to minimize bounce. The linen was crisp and pristine with plenty of layers to accommodate different temperatures.
In the bathroom we had a shower with two different heads, a basin each and a goodly supply of towels, robes and slippers. The plumbing – which can be a problem on islands – was excellent. The water flowed easily though guests are reminded that it is a precious commodity and asked to conserve.
Overall décor was Island bungalow with thatched roof and dark timber interiors. The spacious inside had a welcoming, lived-in feel more like a well-loved holiday home than a hotel room. There was a separate living area and a writing desk. Ample storage meant we could put away the cases and feel like we lived there.
The room had air-conditioning and a fan over the bed.
The only negative was the size of the TV and the availability of English speaking channels. Not that we wanted to zone out in front of the telly but it’s nice to have the option in the evenings.
Food on Bora Bora isn’t great. I’m not going to pretend. Sofitel Private Island restaurant food wasn’t great either but it was better than anything we got anywhere else.
My issue with the meals was size, fat and carbohydrates. It felt like nothing had enough green vegetables but this might just be to do with my food preferences.
The buffet style breakfast consisted of a limited selection of fruits, cereals and yoghurts and a plethora of baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat and other French breads and patisseries. Coffee was good and plentiful with a range of teas on offer. Cooked eggs and pancakes were made to order. My recommendation would be the Tahitian Raw Fish in Coconut Milk. I’m considering googling the recipe for this and trying it at home it was such a nice way to start the day’s eating.
We ate two evening meals at the restaurant. The first time I had organic chicken which was a little tough and my loved one had the rack of lamb which was inconsistently cooked. On the last night of our stay we both had the beef tenderloin which was far and away the best meal of the trip.
Not to worry. Whatever was lacking in the culinary department was more than made up for by the cocktail bar which has a two for one happy hour from 5-6pm every day. All our favourites were being served including Pina Colada, Margueritas, Daiquiris and Mojitos. The house creations were surprisingly good and the Mocktails and Health Cocktails good alternatives on the nights I didn’t feel like drinking.
The bar and room service menu had some lighter options than the main restaurant. We had the club sandwich a few of times. We also tried a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the main resort and can recommend the Pizza at Lucky House Fare Manuia.
As you can imagine they're big on water fun here.
The room came with his and her (by which I mean pink and blue) facemasks, flippers to be picked up from the equipment room on the beach. My loved one had a new underwater camera and amused himself paddling round the bungalow trying to take un-blurry photos of unco-operative marine life whilst bobbing about on the tide.
We did the obligatory double kayak complete with usual friendly exchanges about stroke speed and steering. Later watching some of our neighbour’s efforts I was able to take some pride in the fact that I at least actually paddle - unlike most of the female participants in this activity.
For my loved one’s birthday we took the Sting Ray and Shark Eco Tour half day excursion which was fun for all. Sting Rays are known as the dogs of the sea and these ones are well trained to amuse tourists. They flock the tour guides expecting treats and allowing themselves to be kissed and patted. They are surprisingly soft to touch but all in all they still just freak me out.
The Island has a very short stroll up to a look-out with panoramic views across the lagoon. Longer hikes around the island or up into the interior can be booked at reception and there are any manner of bikes, cars and scooters available for hire.
Unless you’re in the market for lots of shells, pearls and sarongs there isn’t much scope for shopping. Vaitape, the main village, is pretty much a dirt road and a harbour.
I have to admit I’m a sucker for European accents. Particularly French. Being greeted at breakfast with an authentic Parisian “Bonjour Madame” has an undeniable “je ne sais quoi” and there was no sign of the superiority or condescension that we poor ignorant English speakers fear from cursedly sophisticated Europeans with all their fancy foreign languages.
Staff at the Sofitel PI are a mix of French imports and locals and standards of service were generally high. The reception and restaurant were manned at all times, the free boat service to the main island was never more than a few minutes wait. Maintenance and housekeeping appeared happy, and engaged in their work, greeting visitors with a friendly “Bonjour” or “Mararu”.
The grounds were immaculate. The golden beaches swept each morning. The lush bush trimmed and groomed to ornamental perfection. Secluded occasional seats and resting places were clean and inviting.
Housekeeping came every day to tidy up and make the bed. The sheets were changed every 3rd day. I sometimes find housekeeping a bit intrusive. It makes me feel guilty about leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor or dragging sand through the living room. These guys were pretty quick though and managed to do the job at a time of day when we were always outside enjoying the sun. To their credit I didn’t feel the need to put the “do not disturb” sign up to keep them out.
There was a complementary bottle of French Champagne in an ice bucket on arrival and the mini-bar was kept stocked with free bottled water, beers, sodas and juice.
The bar staff, particularly the cocktail makers, will always have a special place in our hearts and livers ;)
This place was definitely a winner for me. I could easily have stayed another week and maybe even a month. Hell. I could live here if I had the money.
If you’re after an understated, peaceful, paradise to relax and unwind, away from the party crowd but not so posh you feel out of place, Sofitel Private Island is a pretty good choice.