‘If a guest wants a complete view of Polynesia I would advice to visit both Taha'a and Bora Bora – they are two faces of the coin,’ , says Laurent Le Seac’h, general manager of Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts.
‘If people do that I would say come to Taha'a first and then go to Bora Bora to wake up a bit. People go to Bora Bora because it is Bora Bora, they know about it.
‘If they come to Taha’a it is because someone has told them about it and advised them to visit. This is for people who want to take the time to take the time – disconnect and breath in the perfume of Polynesia.’
A small group of Kiwi trade visited the island after the Parau Parau Tahiti trade show in Papeete, Tahiti early this year, staying a night at Le Taha’a, visiting other smaller resorts on the island and its motus. They also spent a day visiting a pearl farm, vanilla plantation, and rum distillery as well as exploring the island’s lagoon and having a picnic on a motu before flying back to Papeete.
Le Taha’a has been operating for about 20 years, the last few as part of Pearl Resorts. The resort has 60 bungalows – 48 overwater and 12 on land. Agents checked out the new Royal Villa – a preview of what all of the current beach villas will be transformed into, a more contemporary look that still retains the Polynesia feel, has two private pools (instead of one) and more interior space than previously.
Highlights of the resort include a ‘tree house’ style restaurant and bar area pus what Le Searc’h describes as Le Taha’a’s ‘two legends’ – its coral garden and the sunset view towards Bora Bora. Developments on the way include an ice cream house and a games bungalow, as well as a surprise or two longer term.
The Parau Parau group also visited Vahine Private Island Resort, which has nine bungalows (six beachside adjacent to the island’s coral garden , three overwater) and a relatively new private villa – a retreat within a resort that can be hired for sole use or room by room.
General manager Christine Cayol says that while a number of activities are available – including an island tour in Taha’a and on-resort options like kayaks, paddle boards, botanical tours and coconut opening (and sampling), Vahine is primarily about relaxing.
Cayol says her preference is to work with travel agents because they can clearly articulate to clients what they should expect. ‘When people come through an agent it means people have been really thinking about their trip and what it means to be staying on a remote island. ‘It is even better if the travel advisor is working with local agent / DMC because they can manage situations on the ground if necessary.'
Vahine has an intimate (and excellent) restaurant and bar right on the beach, plus a boutique store.
Smaller again (it’s in the name) is Fare Pea Iti (the Lucky Small Lodge) with capacity for 10 to 12 guests. Like Vahine, there is a minimum three-night stay and again the resort prefers to use traditional agents rather than OTAs.
Each bungalow is different (some have a private interior garden, others their own slice of beach) and the plan is to add an overwater bungalow in the near future.