Bora Bora’s Best Luxury Hotels: Four Seasons vs. St. Regis
If you’re dreaming of a luxury getaway to a bucket list destination like Bora Bora in French Polynesia, discovering the top hotels to stay at is probably top of mind. In the world of luxury accommodations in Bora Bora, the Four Seasons Bora Bora and St. Regis Bora Bora stand out with their exceptional service and stunning settings, offering a truly unforgettable experience. These iconic Bora Bora hotels embody the pinnacle of indulgence and exquisite comfort. But, how do you choose between the St. Regis and the Four Seasons?
In this detailed review, we dive deep into what sets these paradise-like properties apart, covering everything from their breathtaking overwater bungalows to world-class amenities and unique experiences. We stayed in equal category luxury overwater bungalow rooms at each property during our time in Bora Bora with equal upgrades as well to get a fair comparison. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or seeking an escape to tropical luxury, we’ll cover each aspect that makes St. Regis and Four Seasons the go-to destinations for luxury seekers in Bora Bora.
Things to Know Before Booking a Luxury Hotel in Bora Bora:
Our Top Tips for Staying at Bora Bora Hotels
- Make your reservations in advance: This goes for your meal reservations to your spa, transfers, and activities. Everything fills up SO quickly and far in advance.
- Sometimes it is cheaper to book activities outside of the resorts on platforms like Get Your Guide or Viator.
- They do take credit cards for everything at both properties, so you’ll likely not need to take out much cash at the Tahiti airport beforehand.
- The hotels are not actually on the island of Bora Bora. They are all on separate small islands, or motus, surrounding the mainland.
- Make sure to tell your Bora Bora hotel concierge if you are celebrating something in advance so they can make it extra special.
- These are some of the best hotels in the world – get prepared to have your bar set high after staying!
- Most properties will have any water gear you need on site – no need to pack your own paddle boards or snorkeling gear.
What to Pack for Your Stay in Bora Bora
There are definitely some things you’ll want to pack before heading to Bora Bora to make your stay at either of these properties the best!
- Reef Safe Sunscreen: Most used Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 at all of the resorts. It’s great for sensitive skin, and most importantly, it is reef safe.
- Waterproof Dry Bag: Keep all of your valuables safe when you are out on the water with a waterproof dry bag!
- Underwater Phone Case: We personally used the Axis Go underwater housing for our iPhones. Just keep in mind how far your case is rated to go underwater depth wise. This one is great for deeper depths and this one is great for more surface snorkeling.
- Go Pro: In our opinion, a Go Pro Hero 12 is a must have if you’re going to Bora Bora! It’s the best handy camera to capture all of your adventures whether you’re going underwater, jet skiing, or on 4x4s!
- Snorkeling Gear: Although the resorts do provide some for free rental, if you have your own snorkeling gear, it might be nicer and more sanitary to use.
- Camera: Although you don’t need a super fancy camera for this trip, it’s nice to bring a standard grade one to capture your memories! For all of our gear recommendations, check out our full photography gear guide.
- SPF Shirt/Rash Guard: Don’t let yourself fall victim to a crazy sunburn while out snorkeling. We love the sun shirts from LL Bean the most.
- International Plug Adapter: Although some properties might have extras, it’s great to pack an international adapter just in case!
- Water Shoes: Perfect for when you’re doing water excursions. We love the ones from Teva and Columbia the most.
Comparing the St. Regis and Four Seasons Bora Bora
Comparing Costs of Staying at 5 Star Bora Bora Resorts
The typical costs for a night at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora can range from $2000 to $3000 in the off season and $2500 to $8000 in peak season for an overwater bungalow. Whereas the St. Regis property costs anywhere from $2000 to $3000 in the off season and $2500 to $5000 in peak season for comparable overwater bungalows. We opted to book Luxury Overwater Bungalows with a Mt. Otemanu view at both hotels so we could compare the two more equally. Typically, if you book on weekdays, you’ll find cheaper prices as well.
Another common option used to book rooms here and absorb the cost is by booking through Costco Tavel. They offer much lower rates and even packages to visit both hotels in the same visit too.
Cost Winner: Overall, St. Regis wins in the more “affordable” luxury department if you’re strictly looking at booking these properties from a budget standpoint.
How We Travel Scored Our Stays in Bora Bora Using Points
Because of the incredibly high price tag, we decided to strategically use points and miles for our stays at both the Four Seasons and the St. Regis via travel portals. Because the Four Seasons property is an American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts partner, I was able to redeem 500,000 American Express points for a 2 night, 3 day stay here. Now, that’s not the best redemption value possible for my points, but I had saved them for several years and would rather use them for this bucket list hotel then have to pay full price.
Doing it through AMEX using my AMEX Platinum for the leftover fees also gave me perks such as early check in, late checkout, and free breakfast during our stay. If you booked a lower category room, you are also eligible for an upgrade to a nicer overwater bungalow too, however, that’s based on availability and not guaranteed. There was no way for us to get upgraded as they don’t upgrade up to the Mt. Otemanu View rooms with the plunge pools and jacuzzis.
To book the St. Regis using points, I opted to use my Marriott Bonvoy points through the Bonvoy platform rather than AMEX. I also wanted to do it this way because I have Platinum Marriott Bonvoy status, so we were able to get the same upgraded perks just as we did at the Four Seasons this way as well as more points for my stay. I cashed in 230,000 points for a 2 night, 3 day stay here for the exact same category room as the Four Seasons.
Resort Locations Around Bora Bora
Because these two resorts share a motu, you really aren’t going to find that the location is much different from one another. It takes an approximate 5 minute boat ride to go from one property to the next. Both Bora Bora hotels are about a 10-15 minute boat ride from the airport.
The views from the overwater bungalows don’t differ too much either, however, the views of Mt. Otemanu from the respective pools is definitely better at the Four Seasons.
Transportation to the Mainland
Both properties do offer guests transportation opportunities to the mainland of Bora Bora. However, there are set visiting hours and you can usually only visit from around 10am-2pm if using the hotel’s boat services.
Comparing Overwater Bungalows
Now, when it comes to the overwater bungalows themselves, there was a significant difference in room layouts and in room amenities offered. Both properties offer absolutely STUNNING bungalows with arguably the best views of Mt. Otemanu around the whole island. We jet skied past every major luxury resort and will stand by that statement!
Four Seasons Mt. Otemanu Overwater Bungalow
Let’s start with the Four Seasons. Spoiler alert, we liked this room layout better as a whole. There was a Mt. Otemanu facing bathtub which was just straight out of a movie. Although the room itself felt smaller, we liked how there wasn’t a bad view from anywhere in the room. The room seemed to have an open flow without compartmentalized spaces. It also seemed that there was a bit more distance in between the bungalows themselves so you had more privacy from your neighbors.
The beds were SO comfortable here, and quite possibly the coziest out of every hotel we stayed at during our whole honeymoon. We also loved that they give you wristbands instead of a traditional key card to get into your room so you don’t have to worry about losing it with all of the water activities nearby. The mini bar in the overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons included one free round of goodies, and afterwards you would get charged for whatever you consumed.
St. Regis Mt. Otemanu Overwater Bungalow
At the St. Regis, the rooms felt massive, more separated, and we loved the living room area more than the Four Seasons. It also had a nice bathtub, but it was hard to beat the one at the Four Seasons simply because it had no view. However, you did get complimentary bath scrubs from the spa which was nice. The beds were decently cozy, but the Four Seasons definitely won in that department in our opinion.
We did like the balcony layout of the St. Regis slightly better. However, the space between the bungalows felt much smaller. We could hear our neighbors playing music in the morning since they are stacked closer together. In regards to the mini bar, it comes empty, and you have to pay for each item you want to stock it with.
Amenities & Service at Each Bora Bora Hotel
Both properties overlapped with a ton of their amenities and services. For example, each property offered transportation to/from the airport, a golf cart tour upon arrival to get acquainted, public sunscreen and water fill up stations, complimentary snacks and champagne on arrival, and complimentary beach totes. They also both had marine biologists on site each week to help you learn about the marine life in the lagoons which we loved.
St. Regis Service & Amenities
In our opinion, the St. Regis took it home with the amenities and service offered. The most stark difference was having a personalized dedicated butler on site. Our butler, Chloe, was the sweetest and most informative staff member and we couldn’t recommend her enough. She made all of our dream honeymoon requests happen seamlessly in the short time we were there. And we think that is what really sets the St. Regis a part from the 4 Seasons. They will do everything in their power to make you happy.
We also LOVED having individual bikes to ride around the motu at the St. Regis. And if you didn’t feel like riding, similar to the 4 seasons, you could just call to get picked up in a golf cart to get transported wherever you needed to. The St. Regis also had a complimentary coffee wake up service which we took advantage of every day. You can simply call your butler for custom coffee orders and they’ll bring them to your room when you wake up and drink them on your bungalow.
Four Seasons Service & Amenities
We felt that great customer service at the Four Seasons as well, just not to the great lengths that the staff at the St. Regis were going where it felt more generalized. Rather than having a butler at the Four Seasons, you are usually submitting your preferences through their mobile app or by calling the concierge.
Activities wise, though, it felt like the Four Seasons definitely had more organized activities going on throughout the day to take part in! They had a lot more activities catered towards families, much bigger tennis courts, and a huge catalog of things to do.
Comparing the St. Regis and Four Seasons Lagoon & Pools
The lagoons at each property are absolutely stunning. If you’re looking for a more picturesque and postcard perfect view of the lagoon, you’re going to want to choose to stay at the 4 Seasons. The view from their lagoon is just jaw dropping, and it didn’t feel busy at all.
However, if you’re looking for more snorkeling and sea life, then you’re likely going to want to choose the St. Regis! We found so much more underwater life in their lagoon as opposed to the Four Seasons.
Both properties had a nice array of complimentary watercraft to check out around the lagoon including paddle boards and kayaks. However, the St. Regis did have a bit more variety to choose from on site.
When it comes to pools, the Four Seasons blows it out of the water simply for the view. At the St. Regis, there are actually 2 pools available. One has a swim up bar and some in water chairs which were cool, and the other has it’s own little private bungalows to privately relax. But, overall, we did prefer the Four Seasons Pool.
Fine Dining in Bora Bora
The dining experiences at both the Four Seasons and the St. Regis were definitely the best meals we had during our entire 2 week honeymoon around French Polynesia. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants at either property, honestly.
In our opinion, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons better; however, we liked the lunch and dinners at the St. Regis more. You’ll find the St. Regis restaurants to be a lot more experimental and new, whereas the restaurants at the Four Seasons excel in classic fine dining. Regardless of which one you choose, make sure you experience a canoe breakfast at either property! We did one at the St. Regis and it was the most magical amazing breakfast experience.
Four Seasons vs. St. Regis Clientele
Although these are both 5 star luxury resorts sharing an island, we noticed that the clientele felt very different on each property.
During our stay at the Four Seasons, we encountered a lot of parents with young children traveling as a family. At the St. Regis, we found it was mostly couples celebrating their honeymoons, anniversaries, and other milestones. The crowd was much older at the Four Seasons (40s-60s) compared to the St. Regis, which seemed to mostly be people in their late 20s-30s. This is likely due to the significant price difference between the two hotels, where older, more established people are more likely able to afford the Four Seasons.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong with either of these properties. Out of our three years of working with luxury hotels, these two are definitely in the top 5 hotels we’ve ever stayed in. If you want more privacy, more “old” luxury, the most picturesque views of Mt. Otemanu as a whole, and a relaxing and a quiet escape suited for young families, we would recommend the Four Seasons.
If you want more affordable “new” luxury experience, exceptional personalized 5 star service, more adult couples around instead of children, a more active lagoon, and more unique dining experiences, then head to the St. Regis.
Want to see our experience at each property in action? Check out our Bora Bora Hotels Youtube Video! And if you’re looking for other honeymoon worthy destinations, make sure to check out our guides to the Mexican Riviera or the Whitsundays.