Hilton Bora Bora Nui
What is it? A luxurious resort on a private islet near Bora Bora's main island, Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa is a quintessential island paradise. Set in a South Pacific haven of soaring green mountains, swaying coconut palms and a shimmering turquoise lagoon, the resort has 122 suite-sized bungalows and a hilltop spa with incredible views. Transfers from Bora Bora's airport are by boat and guests are welcomed with flower leis at the resort's floating lobby.
What's the decor like? There's no mistaking this is a luxury resort. But local materials such as carved kahia and coconut wood, roof thatching, tapa cloths pounded from breadfruit trees and chandeliers made from Tahitian black pearl shells give it a relaxed South Pacific feel.
What's so special about it? The over-water-bungalow concept began in Bora Bora. And visiting Bora Bora without staying in one would be like skipping the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris. The Hilton Bora Bora Nui stands out among the island's luxury over-water bungalow resorts for building the first, and possibly only, two-storey over-water bungalows in French Polynesia.
Opened last September, the presidential villas are 315 square metres of Polynesian luxury with three bedrooms, private plunge pools and sleek bathtubs (right), with views through floor-to-ceiling glass panels onto the lagoon. Each villa has a massage room, a sauna, an outdoor jacuzzi and a gazebo.
How about the other rooms? If a presidential villa blows the budget, choose from a hillside, beachfront or over-water villa. All have elegant Italian marble bathrooms and separate living and bedroom areas. Over-water villas have glass-top coffee tables with glass-floor viewing panels straight into the lagoon; you can sit and watch the tropical fish swim by.
What else is there to do? Slip on a snorkel, mask and flippers. Colourful coral gardens with a kaleidoscope of fish are only a few kicks away from the resort's main beach or villa pontoons. Schools of butterfly fish and parrot fish flit past. The snorkelling is out of this world and perfectly safe for beginners. Or you can pack a picnic and head off to a secluded spot on the beach.
What about the spa? Besides a menu of blissful Tahitian massage treatments ministered by skilled therapists, the hilltop spa (above) has one of the best views on Bora Bora. For a real treat, book an outdoor massage at the 'one million dollar view' gazebo on top of the hill.
What about food? Iriatai Panoramic Restaurant offers fine dining while the more relaxed Tamure Grill, with its sand floor, has a lighter menu. Or take a short boat trip to the main island for a meal at Bloody Mary's, a seafood restaurant with a sand floor and rustic timber furniture. You never know whom you might bump into as Bloody Mary's is a popular haunt among the international jet set - everyone from Bill Gates to Paris Hilton has eaten here.
What's the bottom line? Lagoon view suites start from 50,000 French Pacific francs (HK$4,380) per night, while a presidential over-water villa (top) will cost you 400,000 francs. Full board (breakfast, two-course lunch and three-course dinner) costs 12,000 francs.
Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa is at Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia, tel: 6 89 60 3300; www1.hilton.com.