Le Meridien Bora Bora review, French Polynesia: Luxury in the loveliest spot on Earth

Our rating

5 out of 5

THE PLACE

Le Meridien Bora Bora, French Polynesia

THE LOCATION

Bora Bora is known as one of the most dazzlingly beautiful islands in the world, a place where once only the rich and famous went to play, but now where the rest of us can afford to go to watch them. The main island rises from the centre of an azure lagoon, surrounded by motus (smaller islets) inside a necklace of coral, white sand beaches and coconut palms. Le Meridien is on a motu of its own, reached by a 20-minute motorboat ride from the airport, wearing a lei of fresh flowers and a very wide grin.

THE SPACE

Le Meridien occupies one of the most prized spots in the lagoon, overlooking the water towards the magnificent Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora island's highest point. The resort has also recently undergone a complete renovation and its overwater bungalows wind out into the water, artfully designed so no one overlooks anyone else. The main buildings sit on timber boardwalks between the picturesque beaches and pools, slung with hammocks and loungers, with restaurant Le Tipanie on the edge of the lagoon with brightly coloured fish begging for scraps off the plate, Te Ava on the sand and La Trattoria nearby.

THE ROOM

The bungalows over the water are surprisingly roomy, private and thoughtfully set out to ensure the bathroom is quite separate from the bedroom, while still keeping the layout open. There's also a large clear-glass panel in the floor through which you can see the life of the lagoon, steps from the verandah to the water and all mod cons including a flat screen TV, phone, Wi-Fi, mini-bar, airconditioning and tea and coffee. Alternatively, there are bungalows on the beach so you can walk straight out onto the sand, while a new addition are two-bedroom villas with private pools and a vast dining/lounge room with plenty of space for four.

THE FOOD

The buffet breakfast catered for absolutely everyone, with eggs any way, an omelette stand, hot and cold meats, fresh fruits, cheeses, cereals, yoghurts and Japanese fare. The Polynesian buffet on Thursday was also a standout, with a vast selection of local dishes, including three different forms of poisson cru, the local delicacy of raw fish soaked in lime and coconut with various additions. The open-air Te Ava, under a thatched roof designed to look like a Tahitian village, served great lunchtime salads, burgers, steaks and lighter snacks, while La Trattoria offered upmarket Mediterranean dishes for those who want to feel they're really in the south of France.

STEPPING OUT

The joy of being in such an idyllic location is that there really isn't any pressure on you to go anywhere else. There's kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving, jet-skiing and snorkelling in the lagoon – all included in the package – swimming in the pools, and visiting the resort's turtle sanctuary, which rescues and nurtures turtles that have got into trouble in the wild. There's nothing like coaxing a sick turtle to eat to make you feel like Dr Dolittle. Even shopping's catered for. The on-site gift shop has a good selection of local black pearls, jewellery and vividly coloured pareo, or sarongs.

THE VERDICT

It's hard to find fault with a hotel that's been a consistent performer in one of nature's loveliest spots on earth.

ESSENTIALS

Le Meridien Bora Bora, BP 190, Vaitape, Bora Bora. Rates from 76,000 French Polynesia francs ($950) per room a night. Phone 689 40 60 51 51 www.lemeriden.com/borabora

Sue Williams travelled courtesy of Aranui Cruises, Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Tourisme

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