InterContinental Thalasso: Paradise Found in Bora Bora
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
InterContinental's premier property offers exemplary service, spacious overwater bungalows and food you can actually write home about. No trip to Bora Bora is complete without a stay at Thalasso.
You step off the boat, instantly greeted by a smiling face who offers a warm welcome and guides you onto the dock and out toward the property. Around you, waves lap gently onto a pristine white sand beach. The scent of Tahitian gardenia tickles your nose. You listen quietly: only a gentle stream of sounds consisting of birds chirping, a speedboat off in the distance, wind nestling into the tops of the palm trees. The sun warms your face and adds a sparkle to the crystal clear water below. You’ve arrived at the InterContinental Thalasso.
Our experience at Thalasso was essentially perfection from start to finish. We arrived at the InterContinental Thalasso in the afternoon, after being escorted by private boat from the InterContinental Le Moana (where we had stayed previously. CLICK HERE to read my post about IC Le Moana). The two properties obviously worked seamlessly together to arrange our transfer boat, and then when it was time to leave Le Moana, they claimed our bags and had them waiting at the dock for us to take to Thalasso. Naturally, upon arriving at Thalasso, they again swooped up our bags and took them to the reception area, where they held them until our room was ready, and later delivered them directly to our rooms.
On arrival, we were greeted by a man in traditional Polynesian garb blowing a conch shell, and were escorted to the reception area for check-in. We were led to these beautiful blue sunken-in wicker chairs with views of Mt. Otemanu and all the overwater bungalows, where we were handed scented cold towels to freshen up and an iced tea to quench our thirst from the long journey there (*kidding*). They snapped our photo, telling us they like to take a photo of all our guests (which we later found out was for a parting gift that was delivered upon check-out).
The check-in process was similar to that of Le Moana, where you complete check-in from the comfort of your seat, rather than at a registration desk. Guests are handed a clipboard to fill in their passport numbers, loyalty numbers and contact information, and confirm their credit card details. Since we arrived at around 1 pm, our room wasn’t ready, so we were given an access code so we could get connected to the WiFi, and then went to the pool to lounge for a bit while the bellman held onto our bags. We actually weren’t there long, as we received notification that our room was ready less than an hour later. So we finished our beers, collected our things and were shortly escorted by golf cart to check out this incredible room that they had upgraded us to.
How InterContinental Thalasso is protecting its guests from Covid-19
Since French Polynesia is one of the few places where Americans can travel right now—and since Zoom meetings, virtual schooling and being cooped up inside probably has you feeling like you’re about to pull your hair out—you might be getting closer and closer to pulling a trigger on a trip to Bora Bora. But if you’re worried about additional exposure to the novel coronavirus, don’t be: with ample hoops to jump through to even get there (to keep both you and its locals safe) and heightened cleaning procedures at the InterContinental properties, now is arguably one of the safest times to travel.
The safety measures that the InterContinental has put into places to protect its guests from Covid-19 are apparent immediately upon arrival. Guests are required to put on their mask before even entering the speedboat that takes them to the property, and are encouraged to physically distance themselves from other passengers when taking a seat. At check-in, the process is completed in the lounge—at socially distanced tables—rather than have guests stand in line and congregate at the reception area. No credit cards are exchanged and all key cards have been sanitized.
While on the property, all guests are required to wear their face coverings in all public places, except when seated at their table to eat in the dining room, at the pool or enjoying water activities. At breakfast, limited people were allowed in the buffet line at a time, and guests were encouraged to socially distance rather than wait in busy lines. Tables are socially distanced away from other diners and a squirt of hand sanitizer into your hands was required upon entry. Guests were also denied entry to the restaurant if they forgot their mask, but of course, there were surgical grade masks available as a courtesy if you did forget one.
In the rooms at InterContinental Thalasso, the usual items that require a lot of touching from guest to guest were either sterilized or removed. While linens and towels are obviously washed and treated, room fixtures are carefully wiped down and things like TV remotes and hair dryers are carefully sterilized. The usual leather bound booklets with paper menus have all been removed, and you can find all the room service menus directly on your TV. They even had a Covid channel on the TV, outlining all the rules for the property and explaining the myriad ways the hotel is trying to keep its guests safe from additional exposure to Covid-19. Overall, we felt very safe.
You can tell that IHG as a company takes pride in the cleaning measures they have put into place at their properties. Since long before this pandemic began, IHG developed a partnership with leading industry experts Ecolab and Diversey to develop top-of-the-line hygiene and cleaning technologies and services at all of their properties. Since July of this year, all IHG properties have also instituted procedures requiring face coverings to be worn in all public spaces at all hotels in the Americas. In most cases, that also extends to other IHG properties across the globe.
InterContinental Thalasso is an all-overwater bungalow resort, so there truly is no such thing as a bad room. Though the best bungalows have views of Mt. Otemanu and sometimes even a private pool, all the overwater bungalows are spacious, have incredible views (no matter which way you are facing) and obviously those incredible blue waters just beneath you.
Our room was absolutely breathtaking. Seriously—I think Byron and I were both speechless for a good 10 minutes after getting into it, jumping from room to room like excited kids who can’t decide which ride to ride first at Disneyland. We went room to room, checking out amenities, closets, and unique features as we went.
Our overwater bungalow featured a large two-tier deck with views of Mt. Otemanu, an outdoor table, their iconic glass see-through coffee table so you can watch the fish below, a large living room with a couch, desk, mini-bar and large TV, foyer with additional table, large master suite with a king bed that faces the water, another TV in the corner, large closet, toilet, dual vanity, 2+ person shower, and soaking tub—again, with views of the water and even Mt. Otemanu—and all the amenities you could want. This list is obviously not exclusive, but should help to give a good idea of the size and various amenities that were offered to us.
Like any upscale property, they really make an effort to provide everything you could ever need. Our bathroom amenities included Q-tips, cotton pads, a nail file, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a razor, along with the usual suspects like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap and a hair dryer. The mini-bar amenities included a small fridge, coffee cups, coffee (regular and decaf), a coffee maker, tea kettle, assortment of teas, wine glasses and a bottle opener. Multiple charging ports (including USB ports) were strewn about the room so that we weren’t ever found fighting over space to charge our devices (and we always bring A LOT of them).
The property itself is quite stunning: lush gardens and tropical plants adorn the interior of the island, while white sand beaches meet the crystal clear turquoise water in the small bay that houses its overwater bungalows. Guests arrive on the north end of the property, where a dock extends out into the water toward its neighboring property, Le Meridien Bora Bora. To the right along the path that leads toward the interior of the resort, you’ll find day rooms, the property’s very own dive center and reception desk.
Two wishbone-shaped overwater pathways take guests to the overwater bungalows, and in the middle of the two are a private lagoon and beach, along with the resorts’s swimming pool, Sunset Theater, main restaurant (Sands), and large structure just off the beach that houses the concierge desk, a boutique, Reef Restaurant (where breakfast is served), more upscale Le Corail restaurant, and Bubbles bar and lounge. Further south is a lagoonarioum—teeming with vibrant fish—and the sweetest Blue Lagoon Chapel, which offers one of the most dreamy places one could envision getting married. Head further south and you’ll also find tennis courts.
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If you’re not one to want to just sit and sunbathe the whole time (I don’t blame you) there are so many activities available to you at the resort. Water toys are aplenty: they have kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel equipment and Polynesian canoes that are available for use, free of charge of course. And if that’s not enough, you can take advantage of their concierge desk to book a shark or sting ray excursion, helicopter ride, sunset cruise, photography session or island tour.
The concierge desk is fully staffed from 8 am to 7 pm and can arrange everything from excursions to personal requests. The staff at this property really goes above and beyond to meet guests’ needs. My husband wanted tobacco out of the gift shop/sundry store (which closes at noon), and the concierge was able to get into the shop and grab it for him after hours. I used the concierge desk to have a flower crown brought in—for $60 USD, which was obviously more expensive than the Papeete Market ($15), but much less expensive than what they charge at the St. Regis. ($100)—and also to arrange our in-room canoe breakfast on the morning of our departure.
Speaking of which, I would highly recommend doing the canoe breakfast once during your stay. But be sure to call the concierge ahead of time—and if you’re only there for a limited time, perhaps before you even arrive—because it is a popular option and they have limited availability (one canoe to do the deliveries each morning, and I think there are only 4-5 time slots available. We were initially told there was no availability on our final morning but the concierge pulled some strings when I mentioned we were wanting to photograph the occasion for the hotel.
All the restaurants on property were excellent as well. Le Corail, by the way, was hands-down the BEST restaurant we ate at while in French Polynesia. Our five course meal beat the much more expensive Lagoon by Jean Georges restaurant at the St. Regis by a long shot! From the service to the incredibly prepared food, Le Corail exceeded our expectations in every way.
We were absolutely blown away by the stellar service, absolutely incredible—and spacious!—overwater bungalow, and stunning property that we felt lucky to experience during our stay at InterContinental Thalasso. We kayaked, swam and snorkeled daily—directly from our overwater bungalow balcony of course—ate ourselves silly and relaxed in our room. We actually found that we had to force ourselves to leave the room because we loved it so much.
If you’re looking for that perfect resort to enjoy your honeymoon or celebrate a momentous occasion, the InterContinental Thalasso is truly paradise found. And I can assure you, the cost is worth every single penny. I would actually make the argument that InterContinental Thalasso is actually under-priced in comparison to hotels in its category. We also stayed at the significantly more expensive St. Regis and found the properties, the rooms and the amenities to be nearly equal.
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