• Friday, December 4, 2020

most luxurious island in the world

The Great Escape - French Polynesia
November 18, 2020
By , Writer

The world is your oyster and travel options are plentiful for those brave enough to explore during the pandemic. After one heck of a year, don’t we all deserve a little piece of paradise? If you are looking for a piece of heaven, French Polynesia should be very high on your list. This group of 118 divine islands and atolls might just be the promised land. Here’s how to get a taste of Tahitian luxury.

COVID Update: French Polynesia’s borders reopened to international tourists (even Americans!) and there are no mandatory quarantine measures in place. The only requirement is obtaining a negative COVID test three days prior to departure and another four days after arrival.

When to Go: Now! It is puzzling that French Polynesia is still, to a certain degree, isolated from the rest of the world. Perhaps its remote location helps keep massive tourist crowds at bay, and now with COVID, it’s probably even quieter than usual. With an increasing number of nonstop flights from LAX (at least pre-COVID), along with a few hip hospitality newcomers, the islands might attract more tourists now that things are getting back to “normal.”

What to Eat: French Polynesian cuisine consists mainly of the daily catch and fresh fruit and produce from the island, especially vanilla. Sip on ice-cold fresh papaya and passion fruit juice, start the day with coconut milk French toast, and dine on fresh mahi mahi delivered daily by local fishermen. Unless you are staying in Tahiti, you will eat most meals at your hotel due to the logistical constraints of moving around the islands. Nonetheless, dinner at another property can be arranged through boat or helicopter transfer. Make it a day trip and visit another island at the same time. Consider Lagoon by Jean-Georges at the St. Regis or Le Vanille at Le Taha’a.

What to Do: French Polynesia’s main draw is undoubtedly its crystal-clear turquoise waters, shining like diamonds under the heavy sun, and picture-perfect white sand beaches. There are endless water activities available for your enjoyment: snorkeling, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, whale watching, deep-sea fishing and many others. On land, expect lush greenery and lots of colorful birds and flowers. To name just a few, activities on land may include bicycle rides, nature walks, tennis, beach volleyball, flora and fauna educational classes, bird watching, nursery visits and stargazing. Of course, there’s always the option of doing nothing at all and lying on the beach sipping cocktails. Don’t worry, there are plenty of activities available to please everyone.

Where to Stay:

The St. Regis Bora Bora

Drop your carry-on in a spacious overwater bungalow overlooking Mount Otemanu. The bungalows have large glass floors to observe marine life, a bathtub with stunning sea views, and a ladder for direct sea access to get closer to the sharks and rays. The resort is vast, so bicycles are available throughout the property. We highly recommend snorkeling in the property’s Lagoonarium, an underwater sanctuary for easy observation of myriad tropical fish and coral. It’s like swimming in your own exotic aquarium.

The St. Regis is known for its distinct butler service, an iconic brand component for more than 100 years. That means no need to unpack and repack your luggage, your garments will be pressed and ready before dinner, and best of all, coffee will be promptly delivered every morning while your bungalow’s shades are opened, revealing another beautiful day in paradise. How’s that for a wake-up call?

Coqui Coqui Bora Bora

Coming soon – After the success of their Yucatán, Mexico hotel that contributed to Tulum’s bourgeois bohème mecca reputation, the couple behind Coqui Coqui is currently working on opening a hotel on Bora Bora. Stay tuned for an update on the hotel opening.


Let’s give a round of applause to Cirque du Soleil cofounder Guy Laliberté for delivering one of the most magical secluded island retreats ever created.

After more than a decade scouting and transforming his island into an elegant and fascinating retreat, Nukutepipi (“Nuku”) is now open to the public (and available on Airbnb!). The island is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 km from Tahiti’s main airport. From there, Nuku is accessible only by private chartered flight, making it one of the most remote islands in the world available for rent.

As if its pristine white sand beaches and heavenly unspoiled natural beauty were not enough, the island is further embellished by a private collection of artwork by renowned international artists that pays tribute to the Polynesian culture. An astronomical observatory is also available for the ultimate stargazing experience.

You can rent the island entirely for yourself, or not. The maximum capacity on the island is only 50 people. The master residence offers 6,000 square feet of modern luxury, including a private infinity pool, two two-bedroom villas with separate infinity pools, and 13 one-bedroom bungalows. Dining options are extensive, from picnics on the beach to food trucks in the forest to fine dining, and anything in between. Just let the chefs know what you fancy.

This is the ultimate island vacation fantasy.

The Brando

Opened in 2014 and one of the first ultra-luxury eco-conscious resorts, the Brando needs no introduction. Located on the Tetiaroa atoll and accessible only by private plane or helicopter (20 minutes from Tahiti’s airport), the Brando is another great option for exclusive luxury and ultimate privacy. It has won countless awards and is a favorite among celebrities.

Accommodations on the atoll range from one- to three-bedroom villas, or Residences by The Brando (i.e., secluded three-bedroom houses). Villas are tastefully designed to seamlessly marry luxuriant interior with lush exterior. The master bathrooms have a dreamy outdoor bathtub, and each villa has a private plunge pool.

The Brando offers all the modern amenities, including multiple bars and restaurants, an extensive selection of water and on-land activities, a spa, a fitness center, a library, a pearl shop and an Ecostation for conservation and research.

Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa

This Relais & Chateaux member is located on its own islet off Taha’a — the vanilla island. With 80% of Tahitian vanilla produced on Taha’a, visiting one of the vanilla plantations is a must while here.

The resort is composed of 45 overwater bungalows and 12 villas exemplifying refined yet classic Polynesian architectural style. Villas have private plunge pools and white sand beach and lagoon access. The charming overwater bungalows offer outdoor showers, direct lagoon access, and a small glass floor bedside to observe the fish, rays, and sharks directly from your bed.

The hotel is also eco-conscious. It sourced 90% of its construction materials from the island and offers an inventive seasonal menu composed mainly of local produce, fish and meat to avoid imports as much as possible.

In addition to a large selection of water and on-land activities, the hotel offers its own diving club and guests are invited to visit the island’s rum distillery and black pearl farm.