We all ponder the true meaning of travel. As she grieves a personal loss, Kimberly Rosbe, TDL’s luxury travel writer and Executive Edge Travel marketing manager, heads to Four Seasons Bora Bora to uncover a deeper impetus for travel in the seat of the soul.
Otherworldly powers in a healing haven
Travel isn’t always about celebration and simple escapism. The need to travel is often elevated to something greater; something more profound. The meaning of travel can run truly deep from rejuvenation of the soul to reconnecting with what’s fundamental in our spirit.
Seeking such weighty philosophical goals, I travelled halfway around the world from the East Coast of the United States to French Polynesia after losing someone I cherished. When you lose someone you love – whether a parent, child, dear friend or a life partner – the grieving process begins and you have to find a way to go on without them.
From the moment I arrived by boat to Four Seasons Bora Bora, the property, its staff and otherworldly powers opened its collective arms and became my personal haven.
Restoring mind, body and soul
Cate Morris, the Four Seasons Bora Bora’s Travel Industry Sales Manager, who joined me one evening at Fare Hoa Beach Bar, said it best: “Bora Bora’s combination of stunning geography, turquoise waters and warmth of its people make it the ideal escape for not only true relaxation but restorative healing for the mind, body and spirit.”
And healing it was indeed.
The island’s aesthetic allure alone was awe inspiring. Bora Bora may very well be the most beautiful island in the world and, as a travel writer, I’ve seen quite a few show-stoppers! Every photo I took for Instagram required no filter, the brilliant vibrance of colours overwhelming. In the glorious South Pacific, Bora Bora is certainly the most famous of French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands and Four Seasons Bora Bora is its crowned jewel.
Surrounded by majestic views of Mount Otemanu, Four Seasons Bora Bora is encircled by sand-fringed islets on an outer coral reef which encloses a beguiling and quiet crystal clear blue lagoon.
Soaring into the Tahitian sky, claw-shaped Mount Otemanu towers over the peaceful lagoon. The iconic mountain is always present from every angle throughout the Four Seasons property.
Mount Otemanu is ubiquitous, forever casting its watchful eye. Whether peering through the onsite chapel’s arched glass windows or looming above the spa’s perfectly framed outdoor infinity pool’s relaxation room, or in view of each overwater bungalow, it’s as if the mountain is the Mona Lisa whose curious eyes follow you wherever you go.
The calming Spa at Four Seasons Bora Bora became my daily ritual.
The Spa is on the ocean side of the property, the opposite side and long walk from my overwater Villa 127 at the very tip of one of the boardwalks snaking out into the lagoon.
The therapeutic Kahaia tree-inspired Spa surrounded by tropical groves embodies the delicate balance of tranquil luxury that defines Bora Bora. I indulged in ancient traditions and transformative treatments channeling the body’s energy and meridians ranging from a Polynesian massage to holistic body work via Reiki, reflexology and Shiatsu.
Although a 24 hour gym overlooking the ocean was enticing, my preference was yoga. On a wooden suspended platform over the lagoon with Mount Otemanu’s watchful presence observing as always, a personal trainer from India taught Ashtanga, Acu-yoga and yoga stretching. Lessons for meditation were available as well.
Be sure to ask for the overwater spa suite hovering above the lagoon for the ultimate indulgent experience.
After a treatment or yoga class, I would head out for a run along the sandy path that skirts the ocean past the Spa. There is literally nothing out there just the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore – you can run for miles along the coastline and not see a soul.
Solitude and space
The Four Seasons Bora Bora’s property itself is sprawling yet intimate.
Even though there are almost 100 overwater villas and 7 beach villas, you’ll hardly see another guest wandering the property unless you are dining or in the pool and beach area. And even then it’s still peaceful.
For total solitude, escape to your spacious overwater bungalow perched on stilts above the lagoon and dive off your deck into the turquoise lagoon to swim or kayak. If you are feeling lazy, simply download the Four Seasons App and order a golf cart to come collect you whenever you are on property – guaranteed response time in minutes.
At the Four Seasons Bora Bora there are dozens of land and water activities to partake on the property or off.
After all, Four Seasons ‘Extraordinary Experiences’ are renowned the world over for experiential immersion in the local environment. At every property, Four Seasons provides exclusive access to once in a lifetime adventures designed to represent that destination.
Fish for your dinner on a private boat excursion with Executive Chef Edgar Kano, and let him prepare your catch of the day for an unforgettable alfresco romantic meal by the lagoon. Or create your own underwater coral garden guided by the resort’s expert marine biologist in the Four Seasons Bora Bora’s own privately protected reef ecosystem.
Venture off property with a naturalist to explore the lagoon on a half day discovery tour snorkeling among rays and sharks. Or simply stay on the property and snorkel at a secluded beach which leads to a meandering river teaming with unicorn fish, spotted pufferfish, clownfish and more than 100 other species of marine life in a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours.
One day I stumbled upon a stone path that winds along the river to a tiny staircase where I waded into the shallow crystal clear waters and snorkeled in peace for hours solo at the Ruahatu Lagoon Sanctuary. Be sure to grab a bag of fish food at the Concierge Desk and the smallest amount will ensure constant companionship underwater! I was snorkeling for over 30 minutes when a rainstorm began and I didn’t even realise it as the silence under the water drowned out the trickling drops from the sky.
Somewhere over the rainbow
The local staff at the Four Seasons Bora Bora are truly generous souls, always offering a hello/‘La Orana’ or enlightening gesture.
As my villa was the farthest point on the boardwalk deep into the lagoon, I’d have a golf cart collect me each evening for dinner. The same gentleman came nightly – one evening picking a flower for my hair and the next he actually brought his ukulele to serenade me with a local version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
My last afternoon I had the unexpected pleasure to watch a traditional Polynesian wedding that took place on the tiny 150 foot long mini island in swimming distance from the main beach’s shore.
As the locals set up, it was raining and I sheltered under a palm. Then suddenly a horn was blown and the ceremony began.
As the drums beat and the couple was paddled in a canoe to the island, the drizzle stopped and the sun came out as if on cue. I glanced up at Mount Otemanu’s ever present gaze and she metaphorically winked. The wedding vows and dancing for all to see ensued and I was reminded that the cycle of life will continue and the sun will shine again.