Two new luxury resorts add to the mix on Bora Bora

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Room Key: St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora

Address: Motu Ome'e BP 506, Bora Bora 98730, French Polynesia

Phone: (011) 68 960-7888

Fax: (011) 68 960-7889

E-mail:[email protected]

Web:http://stregis.com/borabora

General Manager: Milton Sgarbi

Villas: 88

Rates: $873-$4,000

Amenities: Butler service; twice-daily maid; two 42-inch plasma TVs, Bose DVD/CD player; espresso/coffeemakers; snorkels and masks in-room; high-speed Internet.

The French Polynesian island of Bora Bora is no stranger to luxurious accommodations. But even seasoned luxury travelers will find much to admire in two new entrants, the InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa Bora Bora and the St. Regis, Bora Bora, both of which are perched on the islets called motus that shelter Bora Bora's aquamarine lagoon.

The InterContinental Resort & Thalasso Spa, the brand's second resort on Bora Bora, has some unique attributes. The property is the first in the world to utilize a deep-ocean-water cooling system.

Deep sea dreams

The InterContinental's air-conditioning system draws 41-degree seawater from 3,000 feet below the surface through a 7,874-foot-long pipe. This system eliminates the need for ozone-destroying hydrofluorocarbon chemicals and uses 90% less energy than traditional cooling systems.

The deep-sea water does double duty at the resort: Once it finishes its utilitarian cooling job, it is reused in thalassotherapy facilities at the on-site Deep Ocean Spa run by French company Algotherm.

Whereas most thalassotherapy spas elsewhere use water drawn from depths of 100 feet or less, the Bora Bora spa claims its deep-sea waters are purer and richer in minerals and thus more beneficial.

Treatments incorporate not only seawater but Algotherm oils and creams enriched with aquatic ingredients.

The setting, especially the three overwater treatment rooms with glass-bottom floors, is gorgeous. The only challenge guests have making it to the spa is tearing themselves away from overwater quarters.

All 80 guest villas, which range in size from 330 to 1,100 square feet, are made from spruce wood and are equipped with LCD TVs, Internet connectivity and shaded, private decks. The decks have staircases descending to water-level platforms for sunning or easy snorkeling and swimming access to the lagoon.

The uncrowded daytime conditions at the resort's infinity pool and 1,600-foot, private, white-sand beach indicate that many of the guests-- a mix of American, Australian, Japanese and French visitors -- seem to prefer the comforts of their villas.

The villas are designed exceptionally well. Glass bedroom walls afford beautiful vistas to wake up to, and a glass-topped coffee table with a glass panel in the floor beneath provides interesting viewing opportunities, particularly at night when fish are drawn to the lighted waters beneath the units.

Dining options include 24-hour room service; a beach bar called Bubbles; the Sands casual restaurant, open for lunch and dinner; and Le Reef restaurant, serving breakfast and dinner.

High-season rates run from $843 to $1,051 per night.

To book, call (011) 68 960-4900 or visit www.borabora.intercontinental.com.

Exclusively St. Regis

At the St. Regis, the bywords are luxury, exclusivity and exceptional service. Luxury is demonstrated not only by the spaciousness of the villas, which start at 1,550 square feet, but by the high quality of furnishings and toiletries, including generous containers of St. Regis bath salts and Acqua di Parma gels and lotions.

The resort's service ethic is embodied by its butler service.

At the press of a button, reservations are made, with call-back confirmations, for treatments at the 13,000-square-foot Miri Miri spa or for dinner at the Lagoon restaurant, developed by chef Jean-Georges Vongrichten.

If bicycles are requested to explore the 44-acre property, they are delivered promptly; other such requests are handled with similar courtesy and speed.

This is the resort for privacy seekers with limit-free credit cards. Five of the overwater villas have private plunge pools that are actually suspended over the lagoon.

Two of the beach villas have access to a private helicopter pad. Another, the 13,000-square-foot Royal Estate, boasts three bedrooms, a private swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, private beach and its own spa treatment room.

The public areas of the resort are lovely, as well.

The lagoon is the perfect spot in which to paddle in one of the resort's complimentary kayaks before returning to lounge in a hammock under a palm tree or simply sink into the sand of what St. Regis claimed is the region's largest resort beach.

Another attractive feature at the St. Regis is the presence of a Lagoonarium, stocked with a wide variety of fish and even a sea turtle, which guarantees a snorkeling experience with plenty of sealife in calm waters. The resort also operates a catch-and-release fly-fishing program in the Lagoonarium.

If guests need to get out of the sun for a few hours, the St. Regis does have a small shopping arcade.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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