My Bora Bora Proposal; Getting Engaged in French Polynesia
8 years, Jaa had waited for me, so she deserved this Bora Bora proposal more than anyone. I first met Jaa in 2011, after being tagged on a Facebook post on a Sunday morning in my adopted home of Bangkok, Thailand, I saw a beautiful girl also tagged in the same set of photos. And so my chase began. Facebook requests sent. ignored. Message sent. Ignored. Months later though, I saw it had been accepted! A breakthrough! I asked her out for ice-cream, and 9 years later we’re still together. Our first date was a little different from our Bora Bora engagement though. After ice-cream, I took her to the movies, but I was making about $600 a month online from my blog and was so broke back then I couldn’t afford any snacks at the cinema, so I had to pretend I didn’t like popcorn and we skipped the counter and moved on in. Final Destination 6 was awful by the way. Fast forward almost a decade, and we found ourselves in the most beautiful spot on earth. Bora Bora. What a ride.
Back in 2012, after a year or so together, Jaa had told me her 3 dream places in the world to visit were Santorini, in Greece, the Maldives, and Bora Bora, French Polynesia. A nice dream, and maybe one day, but those destinations were way out of touch for my income then. Within a year, however, my blog had started to take off (you can read about how I made my first million blogging here), so I took Jaa to the Maldives (cringe looking back at my awful blogging skills 8 years ago, apologies in advance!) to celebrate my 100th country for one of our first-ever luxury holidays in our lives. 1 of 3 of Jaa’s bucket list destinations ticked off. I then focused on my trip to every country in the world, and although I dragged Jaa to 25 or so countries along the way, her 2 bucket-list items remained untouched. So after finishing my countries in 2018, I finally took her to Santorini. After 7 years together, she would be forgiven for perhaps thinking I’d pop the question there, but alas, I still didn’t. And so 7 years together became 8 and she was no doubt left wondering if I’d ever ask. But I had something even more special up my sleeve.
After a hectic 2018 and an even busier 2019, it was time to repay Jaa for all the time she was forced to spend alone. All that time in a long-distance relationship. I promised I’d finally take her to her dream destination, Bora Bora, French Polynesia. I had read an article about the top 100 hotels in the whole world during 2019, where I read about the St Regis Bora Bora, and figured if I’m finally going to bring her to her dream spot, then I should do it in style. And with that, I organised the St Regis Bora Bora, in an overwater villa. We were going to do it right. I then contacted the property directly and explained to the St Regis about my plans to propose, and they worked out a few little special things for me, but more on that later. First….
HOW TO GET TO BORA BORA? AND WHERE IS FRENCH POLYNESIA?!
French Polynesia is in the middle of nowhere! That’s why it’s so special. A tiny group of islands in the middle of the Pacific ocean, near the international dateline, halfway between Australia and South America. And it’s not easy to get to! For us, we’re based in Thailand, so the easiest route is to first fly from Bangkok to Auckland, New Zealand (about $800). Generally, if you’re based in Asia/Africa, then you’ll reach Bora Bora from New Zealand whereas if you’re based in the Americas, you’ll go via Los Angeles. If you’re in Europe, you can go either way. Personally, I think going via New Zealand and stopping off to check out NZ is the best plan.
Once in Auckland, you have to fly to Papeete on (Air Tahiti Nui), the Capital of French Polynesia, on Tahiti island (about $650 per person with Air Tahiti Nui). From Tahiti, you will connect on another 1-hour flight (there is no ferry) onto Bora Bora (about $450 per person on Air Tahiti, a different airline to Air Tahiti Nui). Finally, you made it! Once in Bora Bora airport, your hotel will meet and greet you and you’ll most likely hop on a boat and be sailed to your paradise destination.
THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN FRENCH POLYNESIA; ST REGIS BORA BORA
We pulled into the Bora Bora airport on our little plane from Tahiti, people snapping pictures of the electric blue water from the airplane. I love a bit of luxury, but having spent time in the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles etc, I wasn’t as excited as you may expect. I’m more of an adventurer than a luxury holiday-maker. My (then) girlfriend however was ecstatic. The colour of the water had her bouncing from seat to window in the plane, so even if it wasn’t my ideal holiday, I was doing this for her, and her reaction was making it worthwhile.
The airport serves as both an airport and a ferry port. Your bags get offloaded from the plane, you turn around, walk 10 metres and there are desks for each of the luxury resorts. I had lied to Jaa the whole time and told her we were staying in a standard room, on the cheapest resort (which was still about $1k a night), and she was delighted with that, just happy to be in Bora Bora. But finally I had to reveal the truth as we walked to the St Regis desk and asked for our boat transfer to the resort. Step 1 of my mission accomplished, Jaa was almost in tears with happiness. She knew it was arguably the best resort in Bora Bora, and she had thought I wouldn’t have organised something quite so lavish, so it was awesome that I could surprise her.
The boat ride took about 30 minutes, and you go right through the centre of the ‘country’, you start to pass some of the other resorts. The water is blue, of course, but soon you pull up to the St Regis and you realise why they’re always voted the best. First of all it has a view of the volcano in the middle of the lagoon, spectacular. Secondly, the watervillas back onto the protected area, so the water is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. ELECTRIC blue, and transparent to the bottom. Turtles swimming through glass. It’s difficult to truly explain just how beautiful it is. Suddenly, I changed my mind about luxury holidays in an instant. This was something else.
THE OVERWATER VILLA & THE BORA BORA PROPOSAL
The St Regis has beachside rooms and water villas. In my opinion, you have to stay in the water villa at least one of the nights, our whole stay was 3 nights in total, so I organised the watervilla for the whole time. You can choose between 2 different water villa locations, one with a view of the mountain (best view in Bora Bora, see 2 photos above) or you can take the back villas where the water is protected and it’s literally the bluest water on the planet. The back villas are also slightly cheaper, and in my opinion, they’re also more private and with the watercolour, probably preferable, certainly when you think of the price point too!
Each villa is a suite, complete with a private balcony, double-sized bathtub, a private deck that allows you access to the water, a living room and a veranda where you can order your coffee (or drink your wine!), and the whole place is huge, like a normal-sized apartment. Normally I’d live out of my suitcase or backpack while I stay in a hotel but not here. I made myself at home immediately. The bathroom was luxury, so the oversized bathtub got used daily and the his and her sinks meant I didn’t have to deal with the 10 tonnes of beauty stuff Jaa seems to bring around the world with her.
And the proposal….
So I had been chatting for months about my Bora Bora proposal with the staff. And each villa is allocated one staff member upon check-in, so before they take you on the tour of the property, I whispered ‘are we all set’, done. When we first checked into the water bungalow, the staff had set up a trail of rose petals, through the villa corridor, turning a corner, where the bed had been prepared with ‘Marry Me’ in rose petals? After the ‘yes’, the tears, and the obligatory photos, the staff were on hand with champagne and chocolates to celebrate. They did a GREAT job! This is an additional service, so message me if you want to know about prices (not cheap, but well worth it).
Jaa and I hopped into the ocean, drank champagne and I told her I had dinner booked early, where the next surprise awaited. A romantic dinner for 2, only us, on the beach for sunset. As it was our engagement, they gave us complimentary champagne as the sunset. Perfection. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting. Thanks, St Regis!
FOOD & ACTIVITIES ON BORA BORA
I organised 3 nights with breakfast, and I highly recommend you do too. The breakfast is unadulterated luxury, on a manicured lawn overlooking the beach. Everything, from gluttonous cakes to healthy options, are available so you can go wild. If you pay each morning, it’s over $100 for the pair of you so better to book in advance, relax and enjoy.
The other meals, you can choose between an Asian restaurant, an Asian-fusion, an Italian, and an international. I paid about $50 for a veggie-burger at the lunch-time international, so without alcohol budget for at least $100+ per meal for 2. We had a delicious dinner at the Italian, pizza and pasta, and the food is top-notch. Also, make sure you grab a cocktail for sunset on the dock, it’s an experience in itself.
You’re not trapped at the St Regis though, as part of their activity options, you can hop on a boat shuttle to the main town on the island and eat there, and wander around, that’s a great option for 1 afternoon too.
Other activities in Bora Bora generally focus around the water. The one ‘Must-do’ is going to the manta ray areas, where you can see them in action. Part of this day involves swimming with huge sharks too. An amazing activity, and my favourite of all time for any luxury resort in the world!
I’d also highly recommend the St Regis spa. It’s free to access the sauna, steam rooms etc, and they have a HUGE manmade lagoon running around the spa itself. It’s perhaps the most beautiful spot on the whole resort, and honestly maybe even on the whole island.
It’s difficult to put into words just how luxurious, secluded, and well serviced this place is. Getting engaged in Bora Bora was the best romantic decision of my life. And coming here changed my opinions about luxury breaks. Bora Bora made the Maldives look like a wet tuesday in Ireland in all honesty! I rarely go back to the same place twice, but I’d return here in a heartbeat. One of the few places that I was devastated to leave when my time was up. Is it expensive? Yes. Difficult to get to? Absolutely. Is it worth the effort and the savings for a special occasion? Undoubtedly. Here are a few last pics to help you agree.