Starting off 2015 with a bang…I’m excited to share personal glimpses inside one of the world’s most exclusive and luxurious resorts.
Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa
Have you ever dreamed of going on a vacation where you don’t see any other guests, tourists or people in general? Is that even possible? Well, in the land of Taha’a anything is possible. Why are the biggest celebs all going to this magical island, I always wondered? Did you hear about Carrie Underwood’s indulgent honeymoon? If not, read more here… What is actually hilarious to me (and a good sign of a very private/exlcusive resort) is that when I asked several staff members at the hotel about the noteworthy guests that have come through (Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Carrie Underwood to name a few) they all responded with the same “so what?” look on their face and responded — “Ashton who? Maybe, we don’t really interact much with guests… I wouldn’t know what they look like….”
So what is Taha’a anyways!? Well first off – it’s pretty darn far away from NYC. It took us a full day of traveling, three planes, two taxi rides and one boat trip. But every minute was worth it because upon arrival you quickly see that this place is heaven on earth.
Located on the secluded Motu Tautau islet, facing the lush island of Taha’a on one side and the majestic silhouette of Bora Bora on the other side, the resort, inspired by traditional Polynesian architecture and style, hosts 57 remarkable suites and villas. Defined by the Relais & Chateaux philosophy, Le Taha’a is the promise of a total change of scenery, a way of life of its own, in harmony with its preserved environment, people and local culture. The ONLY Relais et Chateaux property in French Polynesia , LeTaha’a Island Resort & Spa welcomes guests to a world of pristine beauty, a timeless universe of sophistication and authenticity.
To give you the full insider experience, I’ll share the highlights and personal photographs captured behind the Lady lens.
All flights to Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia, come through LAX (the Los Angeles airport). This is the only way to enter French Polynesia from the United States. From LAX you must fly Air Tahiti Nui to Tahiti. This is about a 7 to 8 hour direct flight. It is extremely hard to time your flights perfectly to catch a connecting flight once you get into French Polynesia; this is especially true because most international flights land very late in the evening. Almost all travelers have to spend at least one night on the main island of Tahiti. We stayed at the Intercontinental and it was your typical 4 star hotel with a delicious breakfast included. After a brief stay for just one night, we got up early and caught the first “puddle hopper” flight over to Raiatea Airport. From Tahiti to Raiatea the flight time is about 45 minutes exactly. TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to book these inter-island flights far in advance. The planes are small and seats book up quickly. Air Tahiti is the main carrier in and out of the islands in French Polynesia. They are safe, easy and comfortable propeller flights. Here I am boarding the flight bound for Raiatea, yes that’s right, the lady in the orange hat.
But wait… You aren’t quite there yet… After an easy (and absolutely breathtaking) 45 minute flight over the small islands of French Polynesia, you finally arrive in Raiatea. It’s the smallest airport I have ever seen in my life – no security, no baggage claim, no cars to pick people up. Just a little dock with boats waiting for guests. There was a small boat chartered by the hotel (Le Taha’a Resort and Spa) that picked us up and took us on an hour ride out to the middle of nowhere. It was crystal clear waters for most of the ride with mountainous islands in the distance. About an hour into the ride, we finally noticed a small welcome bungalow where we docked. Upon arrival we were greeted with fresh leis made of local flowers. Here we are, newlyweds, docking and entering the hotel. And ladies, you know you have a life-long travel companion and husband when he offers to carry your heavy purse after an entire day of traveling…I’ve got a keeper! Oh and my dress? Several lady pals have asked, so I answer – Mara Hoffman maxi… you can find more of her great designs here!
From there we were given a tour of the resort, which didn’t take long because the resort is merely the premises of a tiny deserted island. We were brought to our luxury overwater bungalow facing the sunset. From there, we snapped a photograph to forever remember one of the most breathtaking “hotel room views” in the world; a view of an endless ocean and sky in the middle of paradise.
These are not your typical “hotel hallways” as you have to make the trek down the narrow bridges to access your bungalow. While you walk over the bridges you frequently see stingrays and various sea creatures. Once at your bungalow, there is really no need to leave: room service is on demand anytime of the day, your mini fridge is stocked with goodies, and oh yeah, all of your vacation entertainment is right outside on your private sundeck. Get a little too hot from laying out? Just jump in the lagoon water – it’s you’re very own private pool. In the 5 days we spent at Le Taha’a we never once saw other guests in the water near our bungalow. I started to understand why all the high-profile celebrities choose this resort. First, there is no way paparazzi could ever find the island without proper guidance from the hotel staff members that pick you up by boat. And second, it’s nearly impossible for hotel guests to “bump” into one another due to the expansive layout of the bungalows.
FOOD & DRINK
Ah…the freshest fruit, the sweetest drinks, the tastiest fish a lady could ask for. The island is world renown for being the home to pure “vanilla” so almost all of the specialty food and drinks at the resort have some sort of vanilla twist. Vanilla pastries, vanilla cocktails, vanilla yogurts, vanilla seared fish… So how does it all work and where do you go out to eat? Nowhere really. You are essentially locked down to the options the resort provides. With five-star quality food and service, you wouldn’t want to be locked down to any other resort.
Breakfast is served every morning in the main resort bungalow near the lobby. The tables overlook the ocean from the top of a tree house. Inside you can indulge in fresh made French pastries prepared early that morning by the in-house chef. Omelets, meats, fruits, fish, anything you want is provided for you at breakfast. My personal favorites were the fresh croissants and mango juices paired with vanilla yogurt. Later in the day if you get hungry for lunch, the bar area has a lovely little grill/restaurant. They are known for the “fish burger” for a reason, ladies. It’s a must. Fresh tropical cocktails are prepared upon your request. My favorite was the vanilla infused piña colada.
There are two restaurants to choose from for dinner – one fancy and one more casual. Both have an extensive five course menu option available that includes all the local specialties you would want to try while in French Polynesia. Below are Ladyhattan glimpses of the breakfast tree house and the pool area where you can enjoy some culinary delights. And for those of you who really don’t want to see anyone, no problem. Just stay in your room and order “canoe room service”… Your meal of choice is delivered to you in a canoe with the sounds of the ukulele playing. If you get extra lucky (we did), you may even get asked to take a brief boat ride on the canoe!
Le Vanille, the main restaurant, serves breakfast and dinner amongst the trees. Each Tuesday Le Taha’a hosts a buffet of Tahitian delicacies with live music, folk dancing and fire dances. Additionally, there are beachfront dining options, and gourmet Ohiri Restaurant features French-Polynesian fusion cuisine in a cozy and romantic atmosphere.
ACTIVITY & ENTERTAINMENT
Well, this is the kind of place that promotes NO activity. Grab a good book, close your eyes and listen to music, rest, relax and let go… you’re at Le Taha’a! But for those of you who can’t stay still or feel guilty about all those croissants you were eating (like me) then there are some activity options for you to consider. For my high-maintenance divas, there is a luxurious spa facility boasting a variety of services. For my competitive pals, there is your very own private grass tennis court shaded by palm trees. The hotel even provides you with racquets and tennis balls. And for my skinny gals, there is of course a modern gym facility with every cardio machine you could possibly need while on vacation. After you build up a sweat, make sure to save enough energy for the exciting French Polynesia dance show the resort offers every Tuesday evening of the week. Beautiful costumes and choreographed moves, this is the kind of show that makes you want to get up and dance along!
Plenty of outdoor activities allow guests to stay fit and appreciate the island’s beauty, from walking and jogging trails to paddle boards and canoes. Le Spa, set in a vibrant tropical garden, features a range of massages and exfoliation treatments, Balneotherapy to combat jet lag and traditional coconut- and flower-infused Polynesian Monoi oil treatments. Helicopter tours give guests a stunning view of the jewel-toned water and lagoons. Le Taha’a offers a wealth of romantic excursions, from candle-lit dinners to private catamaran cruises.
REST & RELAX
Rest, relax and remember that you’re at a RELAIS CHATEUX in paradise! Whether you dive into your giant king size bed for a good night’s sleep or take a catnap on a hammock under the trees, this hotel is all about resting. Rest your mind, your heart, your soul. Attention honeymoon planners… I have several friends who have planned excruciatingly “active” honeymoons. Hiking, to safaris and hours of deep sea scuba diving. I will say from personal experience, that after the weekend of your wedding, you will hit a level of pure exhaustion that you have never experienced in your life! Yes, complete and utter fatigue! When planning a honeymoon, consider your options carefully and remember to take into account a few days of heavy “resting” to give you the time necessary to come down from all the emotions, planning, prepping and effort that went into your wedding weekend. My favorite part of staying at this resort was gazing at the sunset and falling asleep in a plush freshly made bed covered with local flowers. If you aren’t convinced yet, there are glass bottom floors underneath the beds inside luxury bungalow suites! You can fall asleep to the view of colorful fish swimming below.
This was actually the best travel experience of my life in the categories of luxury, beauty and service. I highly recommend Le Taha’a Resort and Spa for an experience of a lifetime. For more information, visit the hotel’s website here! Until the next sweet escape.