Impressions Of The Conrad Bora Bora

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

I’m spending some time in beautiful Bora Bora at the moment. A couple of days ago I shared my initial impressions of the St. Regis Bora Bora, and now I wanted to share my impressions of the Conrad Bora Bora, where I stayed afterwards.

Let me start by saying that while the St. Regis had a beautiful location, I was shocked by the condition of the hotel. It was in awful condition, and it sure felt to me like they weren’t even doing basic maintenance at the hotel. With that in mind…

The Conrad is SO MUCH NICER than the St. Regis

The difference between these two resorts is night and day, and frankly I’m shocked, because generally I think of St. Regis as being a higher end brand than Conrad. On top of that, the Conrad was a Hilton until a couple of years ago, when it was rebranded. I figured they didn’t actually spend that much money updating the property.

But seriously, the difference in the quality of the two hotels is shocking, from the pools, to the restaurant design, to the other public spaces.

I think the service golf carts at the two hotels act as a good metaphor for the difference in upkeep between the properties.

This is a golf cart at the St. Regis:

And this is a golf cart at the Conrad:

The overwater villas at the Conrad Bora Bora are beautiful

I used points for my stay (a free weekend night certificate, and then 85,000 points per night), and then paid about $300 per night to upgrade to an overwater villa.

The overwater villas here are beautiful. They’re not huge, but they’re beautifully appointed.

The outdoor areas are great as well. I love the nets they have on the deck for lounging and our villa even had a great view.

Seriously, this villa made the St. Regis villa look like a run down Sheraton by comparison.

The Conrad feels high end

I hate to rag on the St. Regis, but I really do think it’s well deserved. The hotel just didn’t feel high end in terms of the furnishings and design, while this hotel is chic and they’ve actually invested in the furnishings. For example, some of the restaurants have (very expensive) Roche Bobois couches.

The hotel is just so beautifully maintained all around.

The food here is excellent

I thought the food at the St. Regis was mostly good, but the food at the Conrad is a significant step up.

For one, the breakfast experience is way better. Everything about it — the selection, the restaurant, the fact that they have white tablecloths on tables, etc.

I was surprised by how few fish dishes were on the menu at the St. Regis (given that we were in the middle of the ocean), but the Conrad had a huge selection of fish options, which I appreciated.

The one downside to the Conrad

Bora Bora only has a handful of major luxury hotels. The St. Regis has a very special location and property. It directly faces otemanu, so has incredible views. Similarly, the hotel has some unique lagoons.

The St. Regis literally has the perfect location but puts no effort into maintaining the hotel.

On the contrary, the Conrad’s location is good, but not ideal. It’s on a small island off to the side of the main island, so most rooms and most of the resort doesn’t have a view of the iconic otemanu, or of the main island in general for that matter.

I don’t think that’s a deal breaker at all, since there are all kinds of activities you can embark on that will allow you to see it. However, the hotel does feel a bit more like it’s in the Maldives than in Bora Bora, if that makes sense, since you’re mostly just looking at the ocean.

Bottom line

I’ll have a full review soon, but all things considered I think the Conrad Bora Bora is exceptional, and I can’t recommend it enough. Aside from the location, this place puts the St. Regis to shame, and not just by a little bit, but by a lot.

I’d 100% recommend the Conrad over the St. Regis, and that’s not even accounting for the fact that you can book it cheaper, especially if redeeming points.

The only downside to this property is that the location isn’t amazing. So if I were returning to Bora Bora, I might recommend a couple of nights at the St. Regis or Four Seasons just so you have the iconic Bora Bora view, and then spend the rest of your time at the Conrad.

This is a spectacular hotel. Seriously, if you haven’t been to Bora Bora, redeem points and stay here, even if you’re not typically a Hilton loyalist. You won’t be disappointed.

And St. Regis, get your act together. You’re an embarrassment to the brand, especially after seeing this hotel.

Comments
  1. How about the Le Meridien vs St Regis? I have 5 nights at both properties booked and trying to decide which one to keep. Also, is the St Regis being updated? Sounds like a few rooms have been updated?

  2. I stayed at the Conrad right when they were transitioning from Hilton to Conrad and it was definitely lacking a few things like making you check out a pool towel by exchanging it for some plastic laminated card. I hope they’ve done away with that now that it’s fully a Conrad.

    I also stayed at the four seasons and have to admit I enjoyed the Conrad better flaws and all

    One thing I personally found is that having the shuttle boats to the main island was a huge benefit of the Conrad.

  3. A positive Hilton review. Color me shocked. Good to see it though. The Hyatt and SPG fanboy posts (not just from here) get really old.

  4. The Conrad is really nice. I;m addicted to their coconut rice and the croissants at breakfast are ridiculously good.

    one of the more modern properties in Bora Bora that can rival The Maldives….most of the other properties are dated.

  5. As a lifetime permanent Hilton Honors Diamond member, I always only choose to stay at paid Presidential suites in Hilton Brand when traveling the world. especially Conrad in Tahiti and Seychelles. I agree with you Ben that they are very nice.

  6. I’m so glad you like Conrad more than St Regis Bora Bora! I stayed at them both and also IC Thalasso in July and have the same thoughts. Also, I notice Conrad provides better privacy. The over-the-water villas at St Regis are near to each other. IC has the best view of Mount Otemanu while the resort overall is much smaller. Can’t wait to go back to Conrad Bora Bora again. Enjoy your stay!

  7. The Conrad does look nice. I haven’t visited the Conrad on Bora Bora but if you are planning on paying with cash and if the price is not an issue, I would still recommend the FS. I am a FS loyalist and their property at Bora Bora is exquisite. We enjoyed our week long stay at the Otemanu view over-water bungalow suite a lot.

  8. So happy to read this. I just booked 6 nights there for next November. The property looked amazing but I was worried after reading your St. Regis review (I would have considered St. Regis to be a more luxurious brand).

    @Tony Yeung – Contact the hotel directly (via email is best) with your reservation numbers. Ask them about upgrade options. They usually will send back some prices. After that they’ll have a process to secure and pay for the upgrade. I’ve done that at various hotels and they’ll usually accommodate you.

  9. @ JMo — It seems like the owners (HNA Group) might not have a whole lot of capital to put into the hotel right now. So while it seems like they’re slowly updating the rooms, I don’t think they’re planning any major renovations of the public areas. And much bigger issue isn’t even the renovation as such, but rather the lack of basic upkeep.

  10. @ Tony Yeung — I contacted the hotel. It’s very normal that they allow paid upgrades to better rooms on any type of reservation.

  11. @ Adam — I was a Hilton Gold when I booked and I’ve since become Hilton Diamond, though at check-in I was only recognized as a Gold (I guess I should have asked them to re-enter my Honors number). I imagine a Diamond would get an upgrade to a premium land villa, though I don’t think they provide complimentary upgrades to overwater villas.

  12. Lucky, were you able to go into the basic rooms for pictures? I realize they are suites and not villas? Hardly any reviews of those online.

  13. You’re doing it again, Ben, comparing St. Regis to only Starwood. I really don’t like it at all, Ben, it makes you look outdated. STARWOOD DOES NOT EXIST ANYMORE!!!!!!

  14. Lucky, which owb villa did you stay in? Not all of them are created equal in terms of water access. They have difficulty depts of water

    I stayed at the property when it was a Hilton. I’m curious to see how it has changed.

  15. @Tony Yeung, many resorts will give you the option to paid a little extra to upgrade from one type of room to the others, at least with IC Thalasso and Le Moana I had that option (IHG properties) and I just make a deal on my upcoming stay at Conrad Maldives, just ask them and compare, sometimes the difference is similar of what you will see on their own website when you compare the price of each room. It can be as low as $75 per night up to $500 based of which room you want to get.

    @Adam, I’m sure Lucky have the new Amex Aspire, which come with Hilton Diamond status + a free night every year + another free night if you spend $60k, or have the cheaper Amex Hilton ($95) and you get the same night with just spending $15k every year. Most resort are excluded of complimentary upgrades, but you still get free breakfast/afternoon tea/cocktails.

  16. I stayed at the Conrad back in September and though Im not as well travelled as Ben . It was without doubt the best hotel resort I have ever stayed in . I stayed on points and was still upgraded to an OWB for 2 of my 3 night stay at no charge . I didnt find the location lacking at all . The snorkeling around the resort is some of the best in BB too.

  17. St. Regis is not what it used to be. The St. Regis Princeville Kauai was total dump for years before they finally removed the name. Felt like a Motel 6.

  18. How did you get transported between the two hotels? I will be staying at the Thalasso, then going to the Conrad and looking for a cheap direct transfer. The Thalasso quoted me $450 for a direct boat ride. I’ve heard local charter company’s can do the transfer for half that price, but not sure where to start my search. Any suggestions as you are currently on the ground there?

  19. Bora Bora has a fascinating political and natural history. My friend and colleague, Patrick Tairua, is an English speaking native who does regular tours of the island shedding a light into its history, culture and secret natural wonders. A truly incredible experience, if one is interested in trying something outside the walls of the resorts. All of the hotel/resorts are familiar with this island legend, if you ask for Patrick (pronounced Patreek). Truly a gem for nature and marine lovers.

  20. I was a diamond (via status match) when there in 2017 and we got upgraded to room 126 — huge upgrade compared to ben’s room, definitely paid to be diamond at the time of booking. Had an amazing time. To answer the q above, I prefer Bora Bora for overwater views, and prefer Maldives for underwater views.

  21. Bora Bora is definitely better than the Seychelles because it’s a very unique setting (a caldera lagoon with a mountain surrounded by the ocean in the background.) Seychelles is nice but it doesn’t quite feel as unique.

  22. After reading your St. Regis and Conrad Bora Bora impressions…I think the best of both worlds is the IHG Thalasso – amazing views of the Mount Otemanu directly in front of it and large overwater villas (if I remember correctly, they are 1,200 sq. feet)! You can check out the photos in my blog of our 4 nights stay.

    I have booked 2 nights at the St. Regis and 2 nights at the Le Meridien Bora Bora next March and feeling a little bit of regret now that I should’ve booked the Conrad instead of the St. Regis 🙁

    Those who contacted the hotel to pay out of pocket for an upgrade, sometimes you can play the status card and ask for a lower rate, it doesn’t hurt to ask! I did that for our upgrade at the Conrad Maldives and negotiated down to a very good price 😀

  23. Ben, You’re sooooo picky. Also just only sticks to miles and points? Ever try a Four Seasons? Sure havent seen one in a couple years

  24. I’m generally a fan of the Conrad brand — I think they are often overlooked, especially since they are part of Hilton (which admittedly doesn’t have the overall appeal of SPG/Hyatt). But I’m glad you are getting a taste of how good Conrads can be. The one in Tokyo is superb, as is Dubai — and Hong Kong is also pretty good.

    This coming after your recent good experience flying J on BA’s 747 upper deck means you’ve discovered two of my jewel-in-the-rough secrets. On one hand, I’m glad you’ve realized there are some good things out there beyond Emirates and Starwood, but on the other I’m worried that the secret is out and will be ruined by the increased attention!

  25. @Lucky great post, very interesting to hear how much better this one is than the St. Regis. Are you staying at any other properties in Bora Bora on this trip or are these the only two?

  26. @Tony, I recently booked with points and contacted for a paid upgrade. You fill out a lil form to guarantee it. I have not sent the form in yet as the upgrade is non-refundeable, where i can change my points reservation up to a week beforehand.

  27. Thanks for the review. Glad I did not end up booking StRegis. It would have been a total ripoff considering the poor maintenace there.

    I think they may need to rebrand it to Ibis

  28. @Tar_00 def Bora Bora all the way… although I think it depends on where you live. If you live in Europe, then Seychelles is a lot easier to get to than Bora Bora. If you live in US, def go to Bora Bora. Bora Bora is definitely prettier than Seychelles IMO. I would say Seychelles is very similar to Hawaii except more rustic (and they also have giant tortoise) so if you been to Hawaii, then Seychelles isn’t that different.

    The decor at this Conrad looks similar to Park Hyatt level from the pictures. St Regis Bora Bora looks really abysmal. Thank god the one at Kauai had moved on. Sounds like the St Regis Bora Bora needs to move on to….maybe to an Aman would be nice since the old one doesn’t look like it’ll ever reopen.

  29. For those who can, splurge on the brando. Also worth checking out is the original streetcar named desire, if you’ve never seen it.

  30. Hilton rewards require payment of taxes and fees right. What were the out of pocket expenses for the hilton reservation. I had a Hilton Moorea reservation and taxes fees showed $200 so I canceled.

  31. Have never paid a penny for tax at a Conrad or other Hilton property. That’s a Marriott/SPG trick.

    Have loved Rangali Island since the 90’s. Guess our next destination will have to be Bora Bora if the rest of you don’t book it out completely.

  32. Conrad was just renovated early last year, hence the refreshing look. Give it a few years, its state will likely deteriorate. But its location has been a main reason why many travelers avoid it, it’s not located inside the Bora Bora lagoon, and the property faces outward of island. It’s not different than staying in any other French Polynesian Islands. The resorts in Bora Bora are just a big step down from the resorts in Maldives. If you try to compare Conrad Bora Bora to Conrad Rangali in Maldives, Conrad Bora Bora simple not in the same caliber. When we were there, the locations refers to FS, St Regis & Thalasso as the big 3. These three set the bar due to their location and their size. As most realtor will tell you, in real estate, its “location, location, location”. I felt the same way in Bora Bora, especially had the chance to visit the main island, and visit the west side if island near Pearl Beach Resort. In Bora Bora, its really all about the location, being on motu on the east side inside the lagoon provide the iconic Bora Bora scenery. Thalasso has the best location, then St Regis, then FS. But FS is the best overall despite the shear size of St Regis. To truly enjoy Bora Bora, one of these big three is essential. But if you just want any good resorts to relax, then there are plenty of much better options outside of Bora Bora.

  33. i’ve been lucky enough to visit bora bora, the Seychelles and the maldives. i personally think Seychelles is much nicer than bora bora as bora bora doesn’t really have great beaches compared to the Seychelles. there are almost no beaches at all in bora bora; just a giant motu.

    the maldives is way above these two in my opinión for the exclusivity of it.

  34. @MissVacation: I absolutely agree with you, the IHG Thalasso is a fantastic hotel in every regard. The first time we stayed there was about 3 weeks after they opened. We got an overwater Emerald bungalow at a ridiculously low charge, which also included half board at no extra cost. The half board consisted of a EUR 75 credit per person on the hotel bill, per day, and the food was really high-end and delicious. There were maybe 20-30 other guests staying at the hotel. The view of Mt. Otemanu was spectacular from the bungalow, probably the best of all the hotels. I would recommend this hotel in a heartbeat.

  35. @jmo We stayed at both the Le Meridien and St Regis in August 2016, each for 4 nights. We liked Meridien much better. Maybe it is due to the location of the two hotels, water was much calmer at M, we had no problem jumping from our OWB at the M while strong currents made it impossible to enjoy any water activities at SR. M has a better Otemanu view, better landscaped waterfront, a much longer stretch of beach/pool area, but it is smaller in size overall and fewer selections at breakfast (still extensive). Both hotels are a bit dated, I am very much in agreement with Lucky on how poorly maintained SR is. If I were to go back, I’d stay at Le Meridien the whole time, SR is fine but definitely not worth the extra $.

  36. To be fair it is not really correct to say that the Conrad has better maintenance. My experience is that the Bora resorts in general age very quickly and maintenance is lackluster everywhere. No excuse not to invest to repair but the Conrad literally re-badged, closed for well over a year if I recall and was effectively redeveloped. The state of its infrastructure reflects that rather than comparative maintenance levels. lets check back in a few years…

    As for the St. Regis, I think they need a facelift but I think the physical location including the view is better. But everything is personal perspective.

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