Review: St. Regis Bora Bora Overwater Superior Villa

Filed Under: Marriott

In the last installment I reviewed the Reefside Garden Villa in which we spent our first three nights at the St. Regis Bora Bora. I thought that was nice, though unfortunately it’s all downhill from here.

Upgrading to an overwater villa at the St. Regis Bora Bora

I only contacted the hotel about the possibility of upgrading to an overwater villa a couple months in advance. We were staying in low season, so I figured availability would be no issue.

To my surprise, the hotel was basically sold out, and they informed me that they could only offer paid upgrade for our last night (little did I realize they were doing me a favor by not letting me upgrade for longer).

The cost to upgrade to an overwater villa was 39,900XPF, or ~380USD. For what it’s worth, ordinarily you can upgrade to an overwater villa with a view, though that wasn’t available for our date. It’s significantly more expensive though — like, nearly 500USD more per night, on top of the 380USD.

We later found out why the hotel was sold out, and why no upgrade opportunities were available:

  • The hotel apparently closes many of their overwater villas for the low season, so only about 60% of the villas were operational
  • There was a sizable group of travel agents doing a fam trip, and they were all in overwater villas based on what I overheard

So yeah, reserve upgrades here in advance… or don’t, because it’s not worth it.

St. Regis Bora Bora Overwater Superior Villa review

The overwater villas at the St. Regis Bora Bora are spread out over a few wings, in a triangular-ish shape. Here’s a map of the resort, for context:

The best overwater villas are those facing Mount Otemanu, which is the highest point in Bora Bora, and probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the place. Sadly taking a picture of the outside of a villa is as close as I got to being in that type of villa. šŸ˜‰

St. Regis Bora Bora Otemanu view villa

We were in one of the other wings, described as having a lagoon view (which is probably the least inspiring view you can get in Bora Bora, though it’s still very nice).

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villas

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villas

Specifically, we were in villa 312.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater superior villa exterior

Now, I know I’ll only be reviewing the resort in the next installment, but here’s a spoiler – -the resort is run down. Like, it doesn’t bother me that the hotel is past its prime or could use a renovation, but I couldn’t help but constantly feel like no one even wanted to perform basic maintenance. It was sad.

There was zero pride taken in this resort. And it makes me question if the resort should even be renovated, because I’m sure it will be in terrible condition in no time, since seemingly no one cares to maintain the place.

So, along those lines, I can’t say my first impression of the room was especially good.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater superior villa entryway

This was the storage compartment right across from the door of the room. It couldn’t be expensive or take a long time to not make this look terrible, yet…

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa terrible condition

Now, the good news — the hotel says that they have the largest standard overwater villas in the South Pacific, and I believe that. Every overwater villa is a legitimate suite. They’re advertised as being 1,550 square feet, though that no doubt includes outdoor space. I’d say the indoor space is maybe 800-1,000 square feet, which is impressive.

At the entrance was a table, a mirror, and two lamps, as well as a small area with some see-through flooring so you could look into the water.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater superior villa entry

There was then a long hallway with the bedroom and bathroom to the right, and the living room straight ahead.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater superior villa entry

The living room was a good size, but felt decidedly not luxurious or St. Regis like. There was a couch, then there was a dining table, and then there was a desk in the opposite corner.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa living area

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa living area

I did like the big area with see-through flooring, so you could look into the water.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa dining table

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa living area

There was also a minibar, with drinks, refrigerated Doritos, etc.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa minibar

The sad thing is what stood out to me most — the complete lack of TLC the hotel seems to take with everything. This is what our dining table looked like in a $1,000+ per night overwater villa.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa terrible condition

The coffee table by the couch wasn’t in much better condition, and could use some paint as well.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa terrible condition

Throughout the villa the floors were just horribly scratched.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa terrible condition

The bedroom was off to the side, and featured a king size bed, as well as a chair with ottoman in the corner.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa bedroom

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa bedroom

|St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa bedroom

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa chair

The bedroom was largely better maintained than the living room, but not well maintained either. For example, this is what the panel behind the bed looked like.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa maintenance issues

By comparison the bathroom was the best maintained part of the room. There were double sinks, each with their own mirror.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa bathroom

Then there was a shower and tub — I didn’t like that the shower was just sort of on a “platform,” with no glass partition or anything.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa shower & tub

Then there was a separate room with a toilet.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa toilet

In general the best part of an overwater villa is the outdoor space.

Our overwater villa had two lounging chairs.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa deck

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa outdoor area

Then there was a dining table with three chairs underneath a gazebo.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa outdoor area

All of the patio furniture just seemed very cheap.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa dining table

There were also stairs leading down to a deck, in case you wanted to go for a dip directly from your villa.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa deck

One thing that’s fairly poorly designed here is that you don’t have much privacy from each villa. There are many hotels that design overwater villas so that you’re not looking out over any other decks from your deck, but that wasn’t the case here.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa view

As mentioned above, the room faced the lagoon, which is in the opposite direction of Mount Otemanu. Obviously this was still a gorgeous view, though I think it’s probably the most underwhelming overwater villa view I’ve ever had. In general it’s nice to either look at a cool landmark, or to just look out into the ocean, and feel like you’re on a boat. You got neither of those things here.

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa view

St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villa view

On the plus side, the sunset view was really, really pretty from our villa.

St. Regis Bora Bora sunset view

St. Regis Bora Bora sunset view

St. Regis Bora Bora sunset view

My feedback to the hotel

As you guys will see in the next installment, I was extremely disappointed by the condition of the hotel. At check-out I mentioned this to the front desk agent. “I’m sorry about that,” she said.

I also filled out the survey I was sent after my stay, and the general manager responded 24 hours later with the following message, which I feel it’s appropriate to share:

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your feedback regarding your recent stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.
We are sorry to read that your experience did not meet your expectations and that you did not appreciate our Resort.
We agree that our villas are in need of renovation. Our Engineering team has been working hard for the last several weeks to redo more than 30 wooden floors that need immediate attention.
We are working diligently to improve the quality of our bungalows.
Thank you for highlighting the quality of the staff service. We are glad to hear that everyone took good care of you.

Please accept our most sincere apologies.

Bottom line

On the plus side, the St. Regis Bora Bora overwater villas are big. That’s about the only good thing I have to say.

I can deal with the fact that the villas are in need of renovation. But there are hotels that are past their prime and well maintained, and then there’s the St. Regis Bora Bora, which doesn’t seem to take any pride in the upkeep of their property. I’m not sure if they had to lay off their entire maintenance team, or what, but I couldn’t believe the condition the hotel was in.

I thought to myself “oh, maybe everything in Bora Bora is just a bit past its prime,” as the design of many hotels in the South Pacific isn’t so modern. But then we stayed at the Conrad Bora Bora next, which made the St. Regis look like a Motel 6 by comparison.

  1. I was there in June of 2017 and didnā€™t find the rooms to be that bad.

    Lucky, did you find the mosquitos to be endemic when you were staying at the reef villa? We split our time between a 2 bedroom owb with pool and a beachside villa and honestly there were so many mosquitos at the beachside accommodation we couldnā€™t even go outside. Iā€™m going to the Maldives in June and Iā€™m purposefully booking end of pontoon for the entire trip because the mosquitos ruined the bora bora trip and we were there during their winter.

  2. thanks for the review and info. On my last Bora Bora trip, I was torn choosing between the Four Seasons and St. Regis. I went with Four Seasons and loved it. I thought on my next trip I’d stay at the St. Regis. But, now I won’t. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Great review. This is the reason why I put a fair amount of value on new or recently renovated hotels. It’s frustrating when you get a luxury hotel charging luxury rates but clearly resting on its laurels.

  4. If I had paid $200 a night for an off season Florida gulf coast hotel and the furniture was in that kind of shape, I’d be annoyed. For $1000 a night? Absolutely not.

  5. It’s especially bad, because as you noted, they shut down a good number of the overwater villas in low season. One would think it would be even easier for them to perform basic upkeep and maintenance than at a typical hotel.

  6. Iā€™m curious whether this place is at risk of losing its St. Regis brand affiliation…..? The parent company must know that an inferior experience at such a prominent you-only-live-once destination is really damaging to the broader reputation. I associate St. Regis with first class properties, same as Four Seasons (By contrast I associate Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria with overpriced hit or miss). If I paid this much with such high hopes for that experience Iā€™d be unlikely to ever visit a new St Regis again, though I might go back to one I knew to be good.

  7. I went in June 2017 and had a similar issue about finding the place a bit run down. The views make up for it, but wish the place had better up keep and better food (other than Lagoon).

    I don’t recall the mosquitoes being an issue but I recall the numerous geckos that were able to get into our villa.

  8. As you mentioned so much of those issues are an easy fix. New stain or paint can go a long way. Even the floors could look better without being sanded and refinished. Old English (and similar products) go a long way when applied to the scratches. I am fine staying in more budget friendly hotels, as long as I know what I’m getting. There is no excuse for this, except greed.

    We just stayed in a “historic” hotel in a nearby resort type town. It is not just off season, it is dead season but the price was still 3 to 4 times what other hotels were going for. It was so sad to see the suite in the (the once) somewhat grand hotel looking just like a run down old room. No historic charm, just run down tired old rooms.

  9. Just spent 10 nights in an owb at the end of the string, mountain view, deep enough to dive in off the deck. I travel 200 days a year for business and i know hotels. We chose 4 seasons because if their standards of quality and service at every property of theirs I’ve ever stayed at and the only word to describe 4S bora bora is perfection. Incredible… we will go back and we will not even consider another resort. I rarely get time to relax, why gamble ?

  10. Refrigerated Doritos are the only way to eat Doritos. If you’re not eating them refrigerated you’re eating them wrong.

    Just kidding but wow would I be disappointed if I was staying here.

  11. Yikes, I would be pissed if I paid so much money to stay in rooms that look like they were pulled from Myrtle Beach

  12. The table is the worst part. Truly incredible. I planned my honeymoon around staying here in May (and also the Hilton Moorea for four nights). We are in a beach bungalow. Hopefully its not as horrible as this– maybe it is one of the renovated rooms. Huge disappointment.

  13. Did some one get murdered in the bed? What is with this stains on the headboard? Looks like more of an old Westin than a St Regis. Obv management there is cluesless based on their response to you and how the property looks.

  14. Just wanted to say that i really appreciate this post and these series as well. Iā€™m planning a very similar trip with my fiancĆ© right now for our upcoming honeymoon. I currently have a stay reserved at the St. Regis (on points + cash) at one of the lesser OWBs. Now Iā€™m debating if we should go back to looking at the Le Meridien or just pay cash for a different resort. Thanks!

  15. Wow.

    You compare the SR BOB to a Motel 6, but I think that’s a bit generous, as I’m rather certain you would not find such a hideously decrepit table in a Motel 6.

    And the dilapidated floors? And don’t get me started on the the headboard. No way I’m putting my head near that at $100/nite, let alone $1,000.

    The fact that SR BOB and SR MLE (which was gorgeous) share the same name is an embarrassment to the brand.

  16. Also, if that room was available for an upgrade with cash, why were you not entitled to a free upgrade with your platinum status?

  17. I once stayed in a local hotel similar to Courtyard/Four Points with this kind of furniture for $50 in China and I wrote an angry review.

  18. @ Erika — Upgrades are only to “standard suites,” and this isn’t categorized as such, unfortunately.

  19. @ Lucky, really? THis is the website language:

    ii. Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members. Platinum Elite Members and above receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors. At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded. Enhanced Room Upgrades are subject to availability and are identified by each Participating Property. The Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members and above is available at all Participating Brands except at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Aloft, Element and participating Vistana properties.

    I suppose the room wasn’t available for your entire stay?

  20. Very curious, how did the hotel’s website photos compare to the in-person quality? Or how did it compare to reviews/visitor photos on a site like TA?

    As in, were your expectations a little low already or were you completely caught by surprise by the condition of the hotel?

  21. Thanks for the honest review!
    These days, it’s hard to get honest reviews from people staying at these high end hotels specially the OWBs. They seem to gloss over the bad stuff since they spent so much $$/points/time/energy/planning to go there…

  22. Lucky – My question is more in regards to St. Regis Maldives. Would you say that there’s a big difference in beach facing OWB vs ocean facing OWB? Have a stay coming up and wondering if it’s worth pushing for an ocean facing bungalow for additional privacy.


  23. Park Hyatt Tokyo is the perfect example of a hotel that is ‘past its prime’ but is extremely well maintained and borders on nostalgic. It’s possible and if a hotel chooses not to renovate, maintenance should be a given at this price point.

  24. Thanks for the review, Lucky! This is actually great timing for me, my wife and I have two nights free in Tahiti and are debating what to do. I did get a rewards booking here for an overwater deluxe lagoon view (requiring about $400 per night copay), but I had already been debating going to Moorea instead. Now that Hilton is having a promotion, I can just book into an overwater room for about $600 with them which is cheaper than the copay and flights to Bora Bora let alone the 120K Marriott points. I didn’t see anything when I searched, but you haven’t happened to stay on Moorea as well have you?

  25. I booked the reefside pool villa with points and paid to upgrade to a superior overwater bungalow. When I checked on the app, it’s now showing deluxe overwater bungalow so I guess I got a free upgrade to the next category room as a Platinum member. Free upgrade is possible šŸ˜‰

    I will be also staying two nights at the Le Meridien before the SR BB so will report back on the condition of Le Meridien. On a positive note, the boat transfer from Le Meridien to SR BB is free and confirmed with both hotels that I will only need to pay half of the airport transfer fee for each hotel since we are taking one-ways.

  26. Wow. Let’s damage our oceans with some overwater villas which we don’t even bother to keep up!

  27. You save my $. Got points and cash reservation on this hotel and now I’m having second thoughts. The bigger issue is to ruin our 20th wedding anniversary! I might just cancel my reservation

  28. Iā€™m here right now in Deluxe OWB. I read this review after it was too late to cancel my reservation so we came anyway. So glad we did!!!! This place is AMAZING! Cannot grasp how our experience was so different from OP. Food is excellent. Room 10/10 in maintenance, size, and comfort. Service is warm and friendly. The site is extremely well maintained. Golf carts all look fine. Bikes work well. Layout of the place is very cool. Employees friendly, here only 4 days they all learned my name, and I have gotten to know many of them.

    So this Is a public service announcement: the place is fantastic. Donā€™t worry. It will be just fine.

  29. Oh my gosh I am coming over next month for our Honeymoon and after reading the bad reviews I am shocked. I have heard amazing reports so not sure. Maybe you were just unlucky. SGD are you sure it will be ok? It seems like a 5 star ? I can’t imagine it to be really bad

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