'First of its kind' Bora Bora resort makes debut

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BORA BORA, French Polynesia -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts is dubbing it "the most luxurious hotel to open in Tahiti in the last 40 years."

The Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa made its official debut at the close of 2002 and features 120 bungalows -- all of them one-bedroom suites.

Each is 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, featuring an ocean view. Some are hillside, others sit on the beach, and 84 are over the water on the resort's private islet.

"It really is the first of its kind," said Keith Vieira, Starwood's senior vice president for Hawaii and French Polynesia. "I really think it will shape future developments in French Polynesia; otherwise, you can't compete."

Two years in the making, this $60 million resort allows the details to set it apart. Indonesian mahogany canopy beds, Italian marble bathrooms, satellite television, direct-dial telephones, CD players and computer data ports dress up the interiors.

Overwater bungalows have three glass viewing panels in the floor to observe the abundant sea life below.

"People used to say that guests just sleep in the room," said Vieira. "Well, it's not true. And it's not true [in Bora Bora]."

The Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa features 120 bungalows - all of them one-bedroom suites. Above, the resort's infinity pool. Here, Vieira said, it's also about the room.

The hotel has noted increasing room-service orders, he said, and guests tend to use a kayak or outrigger canoe to paddle back and forth between the lobby and their rooms.

Thatched roofs were created from dried leaves of the pandanus plant, and printed tapa cloth from the breadfruit tree forms the border trim in each bungalow.

Hand-carved, curly kohia wood decorates public places. For families with young children, there's a two-story, beachfront Hotel Building.

Outside, a white-sand beach nearly a half-mile long stretches along a blue lagoon surrounded by coconut palms.

When guests are ready to leave the sun for a little indoor pampering, the 30,000-square-foot Mandara Spa and fitness center await at the top of the hill. It features a 360-degree view of Bora Bora's famous Otemanu peak as well as the islands of Tahaa and Raiatea.

Therapists administer treatments in one of four private spa bungalows, each with a Jacuzzi and full bathroom.

The signature Bora Bora Indulgence pampers guests for two hours with a saltwater footbath, vanilla body wash and coconut body scrub, topped off with a full-body massage and mini-facial.

Many guests also choose to get in-room treatments on their lanais, said Vieira.

Other activities include shark feeding, scuba diving and kayaking as well as specialty items like Polynesian picnics and dinner under the stars.

The property, Starwood Luxury Collection's newest addition, is located southwest of the main volcanic peak that forms the center of the 18-mile ring of coral reef and small islands that constitute Bora Bora.

From the West Coast, travel time is approximately seven hours to Papeete in Tahiti. Guests to Bora Bora then fly 45 minutes aboard a smaller plane to Motu Mute before riding a water limousine to the thatched-roof, overwater "floating" lobby.

"The setting is unsurpassed anywhere," Vieira said. "It's a good thing for French Polynesia and a good thing for Starwood."

The Bora Bora Nui Resort is the third Starwood resort in French Polynesia, joining the 106-bungalow Sheraton Moorea Resort & Spa and the 200-room Sheraton Tahiti Hotel & Spa.

Rack rates for the bungalows range from $500 to $1,885. Commission is 10%.

For additional information, call (800) 782-9488 or visit www.sheratonsintahiti.com or www.starwood.com.

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