French Polynesia won big in this category, with a private-island resort beloved by celebrities stealing the gold.
Did President Barack Obama vote in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best survey? We’ll never know, but we couldn’t help but notice that he headed to the Brando, our 2017 winning resort in the South Pacific, not long after helicoptering out of the White House in January. Much like our readers, he’s a fan of the resort’s sugar-white-sand beaches, kite surfing, and the cocoon-like treatment rooms at the Polynesian spa.
Other than the Brando, our top five list was made up of familiar names in Bora-Bora, from the all-overwater-bungalow InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (No. 2) to the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora (No. 3), which has a new toes-in-the-sand restaurant, Faré Hoa Beach Bar & Grill.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities.
Several of our readers had honeymooned at the Four Seasons, which has 107 rooms (100 bungalows and seven villas) scattered across its white-sand beaches, overlooking its lagoon or — the more popular option — set on stilts over the water. All accommodations have extraordinary views over the coral-filled South Pacific, and some offer a glimpse of the majestic black-rock peaks of Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. One lucky reader even had a celebrity sighting: “We were pleasantly surprised to find Victoria’s Secret models doing their catalogue photo shoot at the resort during our stay,” said one T+L respondent.
At the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, guests can sign up for a seawater-based treatment at the Deep Ocean Spa or a rainforest tour before heading back to one of 80 overwater villas. Readers love the 44-acre St. Regis Bora Bora for its Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges (request a Pacific-view table and splurge on the tasting menu), as well as complimentary water activities such as stand-up paddleboarding.
For more on the best resorts in the South Pacific, scroll down.