Review: St. Regis Bora Bora Reefside Garden Villa

Filed Under: Marriott

I’m going to split the St. Regis Bora Bora review into three parts — a land villa review, an overwater villa review, and then a resort review. I’m doing this because I have a lot to say, and I know a lot of you read on mobile, so putting 150+ pictures in one review isn’t ideal.

We spent a total of four nights at the St. Regis Bora Bora, with our first three nights in a Garden Reefside Villa, and for our last night we upgraded to an Overwater Superior Villa (you can find a cost breakdown in the introduction post). So in this post I’ll cover our accommodations for the first three nights.

The St. Regis Bora Bora has about 90 rooms, and a vast majority of those are overwater. There are only roughly a dozen land villas, while the rest are overwater villas spread out over a few “wings.”

We were assigned villa 504, a Reefside Garden Villa, which is basically their standard room. The good news is that they’ve apparently renovated just a few villas, and this is one of them. To my knowledge I don’t think any of the overwater villas have been renovated, so that’s one benefit of staying in a land villa.

I don’t believe the outdoor areas of the villas have been renovated, but rather only the indoor areas (at least if the outdoor areas have been renovated, they didn’t do a very good job). The land villas are all located on one side of the resort, and have lots of privacy (you can get around the resort either by bike or golf cart).

St. Regis Bora Bora path to our villa

St. Regis Bora Bora Reefside Garden Villa exterior

The room is marketed as being 2,700 square feet, though in reality that includes the outdoor space as well. Inside the entrance was the living area, which featured a dining area towards the front, and then a living area towards the back.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa living room

St. Regis Bora Bora villa living room

The dining table was circular, and had four chairs.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa dining area

The living area had a curved couch, two chairs, a TV, and then an out-of-place-looking couch in the corner.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa living room

St. Regis Bora Bora villa living room

Back behind the dining tables was a desk with a chair.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa desk

Across from that was a minibar, as well as a kettle (there’s no coffee machine, since part of the St. Regis butler service includes complimentary coffee).

St. Regis Bora Bora villa minibar

St. Regis Bora Bora villa minibar

I thought the villa design itself was really impressive, and loved the roof.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa living room

Then there was a door leading to the bedroom, which featured a comfortable king size bed.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa bedroom

The bathroom was behind the bedroom, and could be accessed by doors on either side of the bedroom. There was also a shield that could be opened so you could see from the bedroom into the bathroom, and vice versa.

The shower area was huge, with both a handheld and rainforest shower head. On top of that there was a soaking tub just outside it.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa bathroom

Across from the shower were two sinks, each with their own mirror.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa bathroom

Then on one side of the bathroom was a toilet.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa toilet

On the other side was a large closet.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa closet

The villa also had an outdoor shower (which Ford loves, though it’s a concept I can’t get behind as someone who hates having dirty feet).

St. Regis Bora Bora villa outdoor shower

The outdoor area behind the villa was huge. There was a large “yard” on both sides.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa exterior

St. Regis Bora Bora villa yard

But the outdoor space as such didn’t feel especially luxurious. As I said above, I think they renovated the inside of the villa, but not the outdoor area, because the furniture felt run down and cheap.

There was a cute little pool.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa pool

Then in terms of furniture there were two loungers.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa outdoor area

Then there were two hanging “chairs” outside the bedroom.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa chairs

There was also a pagoda with a dining table that had seating for four.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa exterior

Lastly there was a hammock.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa hammock

There was a sandy area behind the villa, and then a path down towards the ocean. I wouldn’t really call the area down there a “beach,” but rather there was a small river leading into the ocean, and then the ocean in the distance.

St. Regis Bora Bora villa view

St. Regis Bora Bora villa view

You could walk quite a ways from back there, though most of the landscape was pretty rocky. There is a helipad there, which is pretty cool.

St. Regis Bora Bora helipad

A few more things to note about the room.

First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by wifi speeds. I had read some reports of the hotel having slow wifi, but I had no issues whatsoever.

Next, we were offered a very nice welcome amenity consisting of a bottle of Billecart-Salmon, two bottles of water, macarons, and a box of chocolates. While I think in general it’s appropriate to get a welcome amenity at a high end hotel, I thought this one was especially nice, especially given how expensive everything is in Bora Bora.

St. Regis Bora Bora welcome amenity

Next, as is brand standard for St. Regis, we were entitled to butler service. In reality we had a butler assigned to us the first couple of days, but he was off for the last two, and no one was assigned in his place. That’s totally fine by me, since it’s not a service I value all that much.

With butler service you do get two free items of pressing daily, and you also receive complimentary coffee. Note that this hotel restricts the complimentary coffee to once daily, and only in the mornings (this varies by St. Regis — some offer unlimited coffee all day, and others have restrictions like this property).

St. Regis Bora Bora in-room coffee

Lastly, I was disappointed by the lack of complimentary water in the room. When we called they brought us more, but only as a “one time exception.”

St. Regis Bora Bora land villa bottom line

I was a big fan of our land villa at the St. Regis Bora Bora. The villa was massive, and they did a good job with the renovation. The villa was well designed, felt fresh, and I liked just how big the yard was (even though I think they should have updated the furniture outside as well).

I love the complimentary coffee in the mornings at St. Regis, and also appreciated the welcome gift.

Unfortunately that’s where my glowing review of the hotel ends…

  1. Wow, that outdoor pool and patio furniture reminds me of something you’d find at a Myrtle Beach condo. Other than that, looks really nice.

  2. Maybe it’s the lighting in the pictures, but it looks really shabby to me too. I’d be super sad if I flew around the world and got to that as the room.

  3. The dining table doesn’t seem to flow with the room. Had they put more of a picnic style table in the room, there would be less wasted space. Agree with others on the outdoor area, the grounds of room look like 3 star hotel at best…

  4. No beach? I’d be super-disappointed by a walk to a river with the ocean in the distance… This resort sounds like garbage.

  5. The yard and pool area may look like something from a 3 star hotel, the “beach” area outside the garden reminds me of Fyre Festival instead.

  6. Stayed there last year and thought the best part were the free cabanas by the pool. The pool was cold though 🙁 Our owb was nice and we enjoyed it. But I left with an overall feeling of ho hum. I felt a little trapped and they wanted some ridiculous price to take a boat over to the St. Regis. I liked the Conrad better because you could take the shuttle back and forth to the main island. I know I know Conrad vs St Regis, but imo it’s Conrad.

  7. Wow. Sorry but that place (excluding the interior of the room which is a solid 4-star) looks utterly terrible. This place is not “cheap”, and not easy to get to, so after all the travel required to get there I would be extremely disappointed if this is what I walked into – you picture paradise for Bora Bora, this looks like a crappy abandoned resort you see in those Chernobyl pictures. Not sure I want to see the rest!

  8. Oh and the “one time exception” BS with the water is so annoying, when will hotels learn that saying that to your top tier guests is such a crummy and ultimately financially short-sited position to take. It’s water, it costs you practically nothing and you’re pissing off your top guests because you don’t want to hand out $0.50 worth of water?

    I especially love when they argue…

    “Can I get a few bottles of water please”
    “you get that at turn down”
    “well it’s midnight and they didn’t leave any”
    “they should have”
    “they didn’t”
    “let me check with housekeeping”
    “Housekeeping said they would have left some”
    “They. Did. Not. Leave. Any.”
    “Well okay [look at you like a petty criminal], i’ll do it this time but this is a one time exception”

  9. In June of 2016 my wife and i stayed at the intercontinental thalasso and couldn’t have been happier. We felt the resort was very nice. Also, being in the main island meant we cloud easily walk to the local market and restaurants instead of being captive on a small motu resort.

  10. I said this many times before , my father in law gifted my wife and I am 8 days honeymoon to the Maldives , everything was 1st class and my wife and I felt so bad during the trip because the appeal of a Ocean bungalow wears off after the 2nd days and paying 200 dollars for lunch is frustrating … so I’ll pass on Bora Bora and Maldives and other far flung places … there are so many other cost effective and beautiful places on this planet

  11. Adding onto the water thing: what are you supposed to do? I use a ton of water no matter where I go. I also use it for things like nasal rinses..something I don’t do with tap water in the U.S. or abroad. Do they have multiliter-size bottles for sale? Can you pay for a drinking water dispenser in your room? Or is tap water safe enough to drink?

  12. A “one-time exception” for complimentary water is appalling at a St Regis property, especially for elite members.

  13. Did you tip the butler?

    @Allen, Aitutaki in the Cook Islands! Beautiful lagoon and sandbar with very good and affordable food! Check out my blog for trip reviews.

  14. Wow sounds disappointing ….
    So is there any good resort at bora bora?
    I was planning to stay at the st Regis
    I was at w Maldives on all access and loved
    It was out of the world!
    Would be disappointed to fly all the way to Tahiti and see this
    Reminds me of Sheraton Maldives?!? Lol ;p

  15. @ken k Four Seasons is quite nice and definitely better than St Regis. But if you want first class all the way, try the Brando. With that said, quite a few resorts at Maldives are definitely more luxe than the ones at Bora Bora in terms of hard products.

  16. Thanks for the comments
    St Regis Maldives looks so much better than st regis bora bora and of cos it’s new…
    looks like no good Marriott resort at bora bora …
    I really loved w Maldives it was amazing

    Thanks for the review Ben
    Now id think twice before making the journey to bora bora
    I might go to Maldives again
    ESP since the Maldives is a lot nearer to me ex SIN

  17. To your water comment, are you suppose to not drink the water from the tap here? To the extent it has been filtered I sort of get the eco-friendly decision to not stock up on a bunch of plastic bottles that have to be shipped in. If they are unable to filter the water for the hotel then I agree that is absurd. I had a similar situation with the later at the FS Ubud.

  18. “I love the complimentary coffee in the morning”
    it’s an amenity worth $5 at a stretch (probably less) and limited to one a day?
    After reading this review I wouldn’t even consider this resort.

  19. My goodness if this is the positive part then I am very curious about the rest. I almost booked this resort on cash a few months back. Glad I changed my mind and went somewhere else.
    This looks like a 2 star transit hotel worth about $80 a night.
    Not even to think about the ‘mandatory’ rop off boat transfer.

  20. Hello Lucky,

    please do a review/report on how you travel luggage wise. Since you are basically constantly travelling I would be really interested to see what kind of bags you use, how you pack and what you take along.


  21. Lucky, about the outdoor shower: if you don’t like to have dirty feet then do it like using the indoor shower and wear your ‘bathing shoes’. I don’t know exactly how they are called in English, what I mean is “Badelatschen”.
    You do wear those while showering, don’t you? You mentioned several times you were a germaphob, so it is clear to me you never walk with bare feet in a hotel room and never ever use a soaking tub, except it is a shower/tub combo … so you can stand inside it to use the shower part.

  22. Oh then you must have adored the Conrad because I was there last October and the villas were astonishing… just no pvt pool but honestly from the pic .. not sure if I would swim in it?!
    Anyhow, you saved the best for last and I am sure you had a great time being with your husband. Can’ t wait to read the next parts!

  23. Using shower shoes is a good recommendation! Flip flops are great — water proof and dry quickly. I would never use a hotel shower barefoot or walk across a hotel room floor barefoot.

  24. That’s ridiculous about the coffee thing. So I can stay in a Hampton Inn off the interstate for less than $100/night and have my own coffee maker in my room and make as many cups as I like.

    But at this $1,000/night resort, I can only have coffee once a day, and only in the morning.

  25. I normally like getting a beach villa rather than an overwater villa because they feel more private and quiet (noise carries over water) but this is a weird layout with not much of a view and no beach access, what’s the point? You could be anywhere. If I fly halfway round the world to Bora Bora I want to feel like I am in Bora Bora and would pick a hotel that provides that.

    When I was in the Maldives they had “beach” villas that had a gorgeous infinity pool with a view of the Indian ocean steps away. You couldn’t swim in it since the surf was rough on that side of the island but you could walk along the beach (I saw an eel and a crab battling it out, bizarre) and enjoy limitless views of the ocean stretching into forever. It was such an other-worldy experience and made me feel like I was a castaway on an island. If you’re wondering it was the Shangri-La Villilingi (spelling?) and was one of the best mini vacations I’ve ever experienced with excellent food, drinks, beach, snorkeling and ridiculous over the top service.

  26. How’d you rate the outdoor area behind the villa in terms of privacy? Is there a lot of foot traffic on the walking paths? Is it easily visible from the paths?

  27. This doesn’t fill me with a great desire to go there. As others have said, looks shabby to be honest. I’m not a big fan of over water bungalows, so was hoping to find a decent on-land villa. The “walk” to the beach reminds me of something you’d see on a public beach in southeast Asia. I love such experiences when I’m in these places, but when you go to a $1000/night resort in Tahiti, you’re going there for a different purpose.

    Anyway, one question – were the golf carts electric (i.e. silent)? Can’t stand those noisy, smelly gasoline-powered ones they have in some places.

  28. They really mucked up the decor in parts of these reef-side villas. The dinning table chairs look awful and don’t really go with the more modern style of the rest of the furniture. Also the side tables next the sofa are also awful looking and not in the a matching style. As well, the writing table in the back corner looks out of step.. And I can for the life of me understand why they stuffed a second smaller up front next to the large sofa, instead of keeping back in the nook back by the desk like they used to have it. The one thing I think is a huge improvement over what they used to have is the renovation in the bathroom. The renovation of the shower and the socking tub is an breath of fresh air over their previous design. As well, I like the new lighted mirrors over each sink. As for the outdoor area, it could be better. Adding adding more sand around the pool and yard area. There probably isn’t a lot they can do about the reef area itself though. It kind of is what it is I guess. Maybe they just can’t disturb that area too much for some reason.???. Anyway, the other thing I want to say is that while I am not a fan of the reef side views of this resort, the lagoon side is fabulous. The land villas on the lagoon side are much better, and you can walk right into beach/water from them. Lagoon is beautiful. People shouldn’t judge this resort based on some very poor photos here of the reef-side land villas. I don’t love the reef side villas, but these photos make them look much worse than they are. Not offense to the writer. That’s just the way it is.. Also, just want to say the over the water villas at this resort are all really nice.

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