Hilton Bora Bora - Honeymoon Trip

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hummel

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This isn't so much as a trip report however I thought this was too big to post as a Hotel experience, so have placed it in here.




Over 12 months ago I was siting at my desk in the study at home. I was shooting off some emails to work, reading the news checking loyalty program balances etc when I thought I’d just have a quick look on the Hilton website to see how much an Overwater Villa would be at Bora Bora or the Maldives. My fiancé (at the time) and I always thought it would be the coolest thing ever for a honeymoon but surely out of our price range but hey it didn’t hurt to look.

Anyway, here I was looking at the Conrad Rangali in the Maldives and also Hilton Bora Bora (This may explain why I originally posted on the AFF forum about the Conrad Bora Bora playing around with dates and prices. We had decided on a wedding date of November 30[SUP]th[/SUP], and had obviously spoken about the honeymoon after that, our jobs didn’t really tie well into having 2 weeks off straight after the wedding and coming back just before the Christmas shutdown. It was decided we would look into the new year and book something that would not interfere with our schedules too much.

I distinctly recall looking through the rates listed on the Hilton website in the local currency (XPF) at the time, flicking over to XE.com to convert (At this stage I hadn’t discovered the currency drop down menu) and feeling dejected at the cost of the Garden Villa, let alone the OWB’s (Over Water Bungalows). There was no way we could justify the accommodation costs that were being asked, I then by chance clicked the arrow that shows all the prices for the overwater bungalow (OWB), different packages, including breakfast, spa etc Interesting I thought, they wanted to charge $70+AUD extra for breakfast when most rooms were $700AUD+ per night, no thanks!

I went through all the options and was just about to close the page in my browser when I clicked on the Garden Villa room, definitely not one of the aspirational rooms at the resort but I thought it could still be nice! It was then that I saw it. Serenity Package highlighted in yellow making it even easier to see and next to it a rate – 7,700XPF excl tax. (Approx $78AUD/night at the time). It was if the computer had forgotten to add an extra 0 as all the other rates were 77,000xpf+. I didn’t know what to do.

I yelled out to my fiancé from the study and told her to come in. She often shows little interest in these kinds of things but for some reason this time was different (possibly a honeymoon had something to do with it?) We looked at each other, laughed and said why not. So we booked it –The best part? This was a fully flexible booking! Information entered and we booked five nights in January 2014 2[SUP]nd[/SUP]-7[SUP]th[/SUP]. Only a few minutes later I received the confirmation email, knowing full well that this was not going to be the first email I received off Hilton over the next few weeks.

Four days passed with no correspondence from Hilton, we’d told our close friends and family what had happened and they were all understandably shocked and many didn’t believe us. My family always thinks I am doing something wrong when I stumble across mistakes like this. In all honesty I didn’t think Hilton would honour the booking straight up, I knew there would have to be some discussion between both parties. One morning I woke to an email from Hilton Bora Bora front office telling me the booking had been cancelled due to an I.T glitch, but they could offer me the same room for 15.5x the original amount booked and as compensation they would give me a free upgrade to and OWB.

Perhaps five emails later with me providing proof of the booking (screenshots!), detailing my loyalty to the brand and proof of forward bookings the original booking was reinstated. During this time Hilton Honors had announced a major devaluation and many hotels were increasing their award nights costs including Hilton Bora Bora Nui. With 51,000pts in my account I added a 6[SUP]th[/SUP] night to the booking and got the front office to link the bookings together.

 
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hummel

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It was then time to negotiate with the Front Office of the resort about an upgrade to an OWB from the original Garden Villa I had booked. This was a relatively painless process with no mention of the mistake rate originally booked. All in we were looking around $300AUD/night for a Deluxe OWB. I later checked the rates and it was going for around $1300AUD/night excluding the spa packages we received and breakfast.

Some 12 months later we arrived at BOB (Bora Bora airport) on a beautiful morning and was welcomed by the Hilton representative at the airport along with eight other guests. We had the option of taking the direct Hilton shuttle to the resort or the free shuttle to the main port and then the $9 shuttle to the resort. Being our honeymoon we just decided to stump up the extra dollars and go direct. Bags loaded and we waited... for 25 minutes for the next flight. Had we known we would have taken the public ferry to Bora Bora township and saved our money.

After a 25 minute boat ride we arrived at the resort with the other guests on the shuttle and given some paper work to fill out. It was approximately 12pm at this stage so knowing that check in wasn’t until 2pm I said to my wife it would be interesting to see what would happen. One of the welcoming staff then explained to all the guests that had just paid the extra money to catch the direct shuttle that their rooms wouldn’t be ready for a few hours. There were some moans and groans but it was something we weren’t going to get too upset over. After finishing the paperwork we asked the front desk to mind our bags and we would go for a walk and just as this happened we were informed that our room was ready. We were the first of the passengers on the boat to have our room ready and did receive some interesting looks and I did hear one guest ask why us first, I couldn’t help but giggle to myself when the reply was ‘He is a diamond guest sir.’



The golf cart took us to our room #326 that I had specifically requested many months prior due to the research I had conducted across the various forums etc. I had chosen this due to the depth of water out front and that there was plenty of coral close by. The only downside to the location was that we were at the farthest end of the resort meaning a long walk to the front desk, pool, gym and the other resort facilities.


We we’re shown the room by staff and our first impression was one of excitement but also a little confusion. When the front door is opened to the villa you immediately see an old television cabinet with a CRT television inside. Hardly a great first impression and could be easily fixed by upgrading it to a slimline TV. The bathroom was quite large with double basins and the bath beautifully positioned, however the toilet and shower had seen better days. The bed was quite comfortable although again had seen better days. Noticing a trend here?



 
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hummel

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Once settled into our accommodation we waited for our luggage to arrive, this is one of my pet hates with hotels/resorts. Why can’t luggage be within 10 minutes of checking into the room? Some 40 minutes later our luggage arrived. First thing we did was get changed into some shorts and t shirts and jump into the lagoon. It really was beautiful and I believe it is a constant 28c all year around. Very refreshing.



Later in the day we went for a long walk around the resort, it would take us approximately 10 minutes to make it to the main hub of the resort. This is where the infinity pool is, the bar, gymnasium etc The staff at the pool were fantastic and very friendly, we had dealings with these guys numerous times as this is where you go to get snorkels, flippers, kayaks etc – All free of charge. It was nice and fun to grab the stand up board paddle board and cruise around the villas. Overall it was a nice place to relax however we found it quite busy and obviously wanted to just spend time together as a newly wedded couple.



A couple of times we ordered room service and yes it was expensive and rather ordinary but we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If you’re stay at a place such as this I think you need to just take it how it comes and not worry about the cost so much. A couple of days we caught the shuttle across the main township of Viatape, went for lunch, purchased some items at the supermarket and also just took in a bit more of the local culture.

As part of our package a couple of treatments were available at the resort spa, my wife and I both had a massage together and the following day my wife had another treatment. The staff at the spa were lovely and very welcoming, the views from the spa are the best on the report and it’s very easy to just lose yourself up there. It was fantastic little retreat at the top of the all, however be prepared for a walk if you don’t want to take the golf buggy!



 
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hummel

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The rest of our stay was spent much like the previous few days, relaxing, eating, swimming. I’m never one to sit still for too long and really thought I’d struggle on this trip but after the stresses of the year it was a beautiful place to relax and get away from it all. My wife and I have talked about this stay many times since and agree that once you’ve done such a trip there is no need to go back. We’re very happy we’ve done it and also very fortunate to experience such a thing, however the next big trip will be a lot more active.

Cheers!
 

boomy

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Thanks for the report hummel.
Looks like you had an amazing honeymoon!
A couple of questions:
How did you find the restaurants there?
Did you fly with NZ codeshare? I was looking at J award bookings but it's almost impossible to find availability on that flight.
 

jetlagger

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Really enjoyed the TR & of course the glorious photos from your experience.
Thanks for sharing.
 

JohnM

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Nice TR. Bora Bora is certainly a lovely place.

Your comments about the hotel having seen better days seems to be common in French Polynesia. I was there in 2011 (went to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Rangiroa and Mo'orea) and the economy was (still is?) in a deep funk. At Bora Bora, I only stayed el cheapo on the main island and a lot of the more glamour hotels/resorts there were shut - ostensibly for renovations, that were just not happening and seemed never likely to. The ones on the Motu (fringing reef islands surrounding the lagoon) were still operating as they are much more in demand for their location - but I guess are still feeling the pressure.

What I was told by a local business person was that many of the hotels were built about the same time in a boom around the 1980's based on government incentives. As the hotels began to age and newer destinations around the world began to open, Polynesia came under intense competitive pressure.

Also, they operate under French labour laws, so it is impossible to sack people. The end result was that uneconomic places were closed 'for renovations' so they could put off the staff - but the 'renovations' are on the never-never.

It's a pity - especially for Bora Bora which, as your TR showed, is particularly beautiful.
 

hummel

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Thanks for the report hummel.
Looks like you had an amazing honeymoon!
A couple of questions:
How did you find the restaurants there?
Did you fly with NZ codeshare? I was looking at J award bookings but it's almost impossible to find availability on that flight.

Boomy,

We only tried a couple of the restraunts on the main island and they were *ok* but nothing flash. There is always talk about Villa Mohana and that it's hard to get a booking however my wife and I could have got one by just ringing up a day before. However we chose not to as were not foodies... so take what I say with a grain of salt. :)

Funny you say that about flights, we did Air Tahiti Nui up and NZ back but both booked through NZ. Good luck finding availability, it pained me to actually pay for flights as we normally fly on points on our other trips. My only option was to fly to the states then do LAX-PPT as there was availability on that route. I choose not to.
 

hummel

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Nice TR. Bora Bora is certainly a lovely place.

Your comments about the hotel having seen better days seems to be common in French Polynesia. I was there in 2011 (went to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Rangiroa and Mo'orea) and the economy was (still is?) in a deep funk. At Bora Bora, I only stayed el cheapo on the main island and a lot of the more glamour hotels/resorts there were shut - ostensibly for renovations, that were just not happening and seemed never likely to. The ones on the Motu (fringing reef islands surrounding the lagoon) were still operating as they are much more in demand for their location - but I guess are still feeling the pressure.

What I was told by a local business person was that many of the hotels were built about the same time in a boom around the 1980's based on government incentives. As the hotels began to age and newer destinations around the world began to open, Polynesia came under intense competitive pressure.

Also, they operate under French labour laws, so it is impossible to sack people. The end result was that uneconomic places were closed 'for renovations' so they could put off the staff - but the 'renovations' are on the never-never.

It's a pity - especially for Bora Bora which, as your TR showed, is particularly beautiful.

Interesting and thanks for the comments. You know it does sort of make sense, I think a cyclone ripped through there a few years ago too? Damaged a fair bit of the reef etc. A stunning naturally beautiful place for sure, just could do with a little TLC.
 

kazhere

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Great Trip Report I really enjoyed it thank you. Is that champagne in plastic cups?? Cute photo anyway I love a *cheers* on the plane
 

bismarck

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Thanks for the TR. Very interesting.

I'm currently in the honeymoon planning phase and have been given strict instructions that it doesn't matter where we go as long as it is an overwater villa. Have been doing a fair bit of research and it does seem that most of the places are:
a) Heart-stoppingly expensive; or
b) A bit shabby and not to the standard you might like for your honeymoon

Seems hard to find anywhere that is a balance.

We are also big foodies, and the idea of being stuck on an island for 7 nights or so if we are not keen on the food isn't so appealing.

Anyway, thanks for posting some real photos as well - always good to get an idea of what it actually looks like versus hotel glamour shots.
 
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