Fabulous Four Seasons Service Bora Bora

There are times I am completely astounded by excellent service – and on multiple occasions at a Four Seasons Resort  I’ve been the recipient of an extraordinary effort by a hotel team member.

My first afternoon in Bora Bora, I hopped aboard one of the hotel boats to explore the village of Vaitape, Bora Bora’s largest town and wharf. It supplies the villagers with groceries, local commerce is transacted at the Banque de Tahiti, colorful stamps can be purchased at the Post Office, and besides a black pearl emporium on every corner, there are a few interesting tourist shops and small cafes, and a Protestant church. Lots of dogs, actually more free roaming dogs than I have ever seen – all friendly and curious, no nasty snarling.

Many more interesting sights were discovered on the local lanes swarming with young friendly children who wanted to see their images on my camera. Kids whose main apparel seemed to be undies or swimsuits – hot humid weather certainly reduces  clothing needs. The scene was so not home – when was the last time you saw kids untethered and undressed with not a care in the world other than who could scurry first to the top of a dirt pile?

On my travels, I frequently look for local art as my son and my daughter-in-law decline hats, bracelets and exotic salt and fragrant spices from my travels. My last stop on the fleeting circuit was at a home design shop that yielded an oil painting of a striking Tiki face – a Picasso-esqe Cubist rendering of a Tiki…and in my favorite tones. Black and silver with a dash of red…it spoke to me and just as importantly, it would fit in my suitcase. I had already been lectured by Tahiti Nui air on my bags and forced to downsize a carry-on for the short hop…small acquisitions were imperative.

Happy with my treasure, I strolled back to the idling Four Seasons motorboat. I was early and the two boatmen welcomed me aboard, as I stepped across the rail, I handed them my camera bag and accidentally dropped my purchase into the sea…. barely a block away and my one prize was in the drink….Tea, quickly reached down between the boat and the pier and fished out the dripping wet bag… unfolding the bubble wrap we both smiled as we discovered Tiki power withstood the sea, it was barely damp. His boat Captain, Apera, said let me go back to the shop and have it repackaged – just like that- not even a moment for me to ask for help or shed a tear; they both jumped to action beyond the call of kindness and responsibility. Moments later he appeared with a freshly wrapped bag with my Tiki Picasso ready for airline inspection.

Tea & Apera- Four Seasons Heros

Tea & Apera- Four Seasons Bora Bora Heroes

These random acts of kindness don’t materialize at every hotel property – trust me; the Four Seasons team members are truly courteous, kind and exceptionally interested in providing sensational service.

That evening, I emailed their photos to Michel Volk, the hotel GM,  with my highest praise. My Tiki is in my office watching over me, reminding me a gorgeous day on the beautiful Bora Bora seas, in a lovely port and the generous spirit of two delightful and caring Tahitian boatmen.

Maururu Roa Tea & Apera! Apera


The Brando Island

You may have recently read about President Obama’s three week visit to The Brando Island, the most suitable and stylish location to begin his memoirs. An epic island retreat, not just for former Presidents….a refresher to remind you of its charms!

From the air, Tetiaroa Island is nary a speck of tall swaying coconut and vivid green palm fronds surrounded by the palest of brilliantly clear turquoise seas visible from your private plane that transports you from Papeete to the private island. Your first glimpse is of startling gem blue seas contrasted by white sandy beaches punctuated with miles and miles of jade green palms – a beautiful necklace of sea surrounding the pristine white beaches. A quick 25 min. hop, just barely skimming above the transparent seas and through huge billowy clouds; before you know it, the short runway appears on the edge of the sandy atoll.



Legends abound about the lure of Tahiti from painters Gauguin and Matisse, to the writers Jack London, Melville and R.L. Stevenson. The brilliant light, the mighty sea and the allure of beautiful Polynesian women enticed many to this balmy paradise. You might be aware and possibly intrigued by Marlon Brando’s dreamy paradise, his paparazzi hideaway. If you need such distance, this is the most enchanting escape. I truly felt I had left civilization behind – the real world was merely 25-air minutes away, yet it felt a million miles away.

Photos provide glammy perspective, however the absolute beauty of the warm indigo seas, the stillness, occasionally interrupted by native birdsong, the natural beauty of the island must be experienced. A rare combination of nature and a man’s love for an island he called home for many years. The Brando experience is unlike any other – imagine balmy breezes, warm gentle seas teeming with flamboyant tropical fish and curious turtles, black night skies filled with thousands of stars, the Southern Sky is also a star at The Brando.The BrandoTo begin, a guest feels like royalty, casual understated royalty; however, your desires and needs are met before you even think of asking. The staff is extremely efficient and beyond friendly – they are fun and they seem to be genuinely pleased to assist in any matter.

The Villas – in total, 35 stand alone unobtrusive villas, secreted on the beach with glorious water views, and nudged into a private thatch of shrubs, fragrant tropical flowers and swaying coconut palms. If you enjoy seclusion, even while knowing there are villas nearby, this should become your tropical paradise. Each day, I saw more guests at dinner, however I felt like it was my own private pristine island as I rarely encountered other guests during the day. Even at dinner the tables are isolated, you won’t  be privy to others conversation. And nary a phone or tablet other than a few photographs- unplug and detach; no rules, nature seems to be the ruler here.

The Brando Beach Comber CafeThe Villas – elegant and chic and decorated in understated refined earth tones. Villas include a library with media room, massive light filled baths and a sumptuous outdoor tub for soaking and stargazing. Traditional Polynesian thatched roofs and floor to ceiling windows frame the gorgeous indigo lagoon. Infinity pool on wide expansive decks, terrace-dining tables, a rocker to idle away an afternoon- sublime comforts. My splash pool was a refreshing respite each afternoon, a brilliant après dip after snorkeling in front of my Villa. Several two-bedroom villas and a three-bedroom villa can be reserved for families. 

The gorgeous island is expansive and the bicycles at each villa allow you to pedal on paved paths to the spa or to dining. I love the fact that each Villa has a few bicycles randomly assigned to its own bike villa and no matter how many times I abandoned my bike at the spa or at dinner – I, fearful of an Isadora Duncan demise, picturing my sundress wrapped in the spokes, left my bike strewn somewhere every evening. Each morning, no matter the time, my bikes had mysteriously returned to their sandy perch. This is only one example of the unobtrusive level of service at The Brando. If you prefer a golf buggy, ring reception and a buggy will materialize in a matter of moments.oPhoto credit Tim-mckenna.comDining – You won’t find a typical breakfast buffet here; a la carte service on your terrace or in the Beachcomber Café. Healthy smoothies, tropical fruit and honey from the island to smother the scrumptious croissants and freshly baked bread. Highly recommend the scrambled eggs – prepared to perfection. Next January, construction starts on a third restaurant, modifying The Beachcomber Cafe with the addition of a Teppanyaki table, as well as a pergola to cover the beach area in front of the restaurant.

Lunch is served at the Beachcomber or at Dirty Bob’s Bar- just caught fish and excellent fresh vegetables and organic salads. One tuna dish in particular, elicited begging every day for a repeat! The delicious bread – try to abstain, as it is bountiful and a very bad habit to start, as it seems to be baked all day long! See my fun post on Dirty Old Bobs Bar: http://www.gwenbooks.com/2015/06/dirty-old-bobs-bar-the-brando/Photo credit Tim-mckenna.comDinner options from the Café served at scattered tables along the sea or tucked discretely amid the greenery, private and discreet no matter how many guests. For fancier fare, doll up for fine dining at Les Mutinés Restaurant, which is overseen by Guy Martin, chef at the three-Michelin star Le Grand Véfour in Paris. Extensive French cuisine and and a sizable wine cellar. Scrumptious!

Spa – this is a spa worthy of a separate post…. So gorgeous, relaxing and stunning architecture…http://www.gwenbooks.com/2015/09/varua-spa-at-the-brando/ Please see Spa Post.

Photo credit Tim-mckenna.comThe Brando is a fully inclusive Sanctuary: meals and beverages, a spa treatment each day and an excursion. No cash or credit cards needed until check out. Even the boutiques and jewelry shop- wrap and deliver your packages to your room sans credit card. A wallet is an unnecessary swim suit accessory.

Activities: Tennis, snorkeling with marine biologists, classes teaching traditional Polynesian crafts, and in the dark clear evening skies, Southern sky stargazing is magical! Bicycling, swimming, stand up paddle, off island visits to explore other islands, cultural lectures; be active or be lazy – The Brando is pure paradise. If planned in advance, fly-fishing day trips with Teihotu Brando are a marvelous adventure. Walk through the warm surf and cast out in the salt flats – I loved my quiet day despite being unlucky in  fishing!  Sunset ceremonies, traditional Polynesian music and dance…despite being marooned, you might be immersed in activities if you please.The BrandoSpa, daily activities, the brilliant knowledgeable staff behind the scene, the technology created to make The Brando a natural sanctuary…..

Logistics: it is only an 8-hour flight from LAX to Tahiti – and a private 25 min flight in The Brando puddle jumper to Tetiaroa Island…or try the new helicopter service!

Paradise is closer than you think! Stunning natural beauty, authentic experiences, divine dining and spectacular spa…

Highly Recommend The Brando!

The Brando Plane

The Brando Plane

Interior photos, exterior entrance photo and pool photos courtesy of the Brando: Photo credit Tim-mckenna.com