French Polynesia was never a tough sell as a destination: the blindingly turquoise water populated with coral and tropical fish, a rich, ancient culture, the lush seclusion that drew everyone from Gauguin to Brando. But in the current travel climate amid COVID-19, this South Pacific nation of islands added other reasons: early, stringent measures that kept the incidence of the virus low and borders opened to international visitors, even from the U.S., on July 15.

Two kayaks skimming along turquoise water past coral reefs
Kayaking along the coral reefs at The Brando ERIC MARTIN

There are, of course, procedures that are required to enter.  Passengers must register a negative test result taken within three days of departure and agree in an entry form online to various conditions including respecting the safety measures that are imposed within the country as well as filing all itinerary details. Upon arrival, travelers are issued a self test containing an oral and nasal swab which they must administer on the fourth day after arrival; if they’re staying at a hotel, they give the test to staff at the reception desk or drop it off at a health center. A positive result will require isolation measures and further testing. And travelers should always wear masks when in enclosed public spaces and on all modes of transportation: failure to do so can result in fines up to 89,000 Pacific Francs ($840).

Sharp Polynesian decor within an overwater bungalow looking out at turquoise water
The new interiors in the overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora FOUR SEASONS RESORT BORA BORA

Within the islands, repeat visitors will experience a few new developments in the some of the country’s best resorts. The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora added eight new 1,120 square foot overwater bungalows, six of which have infinity plunge pools. The décor in all of the one and two bedroom overwater bungalow suites has also been refreshed in a contemporary Polynesian feel. The 3,228 square foot two bedroom beachfront Villa Estates are also being redone; one has already been completed. And more private experiences have been added, from private snorkeling adventures to dinner on the beach with musicians and fireworks.

Turquoise and white contemporary furniture within an overwater villa in Bora Bora
The new contemporary interiors in overwater villas at the St Regis Bora Bora Resort ST REGIS BORA BORA RESORT

Around the bend from the Four Seasons, The St Regis Bora Bora Resort reopened yesterday with refreshed interiors in a number of its overwater villas as well. The new design by Paris-based interior designer, Marc Hertrich & Nicolas Adnet of The Studio MHNA features a lighter color palette, turquoise and white, and contemporary European furnishings. The overwater bungalows are also the largest in the South Pacific, starting at 1,550 square feet. The 13,000 square foot, three bedroom Royal Estate is a completely self contained compound with its own beach fronting the lagoon, making it a favorite for celebrities who don’t want to be seen and anyone who wants complete privacy now.

A thatched Polynesian villa and swimming pool
A three bedroom villa at The Brando ROMEO BALANCOURT

Over at The Brando in the Tetiaroa Atoll, which was a celebrity favorite-Marlon Brando’s residence- before its conversion to a resort, complete privacy is also assured in its accommodations of 35 villas with their own pools and especially the 6000 square foot, three bedroom Residence with its private beach that debuted last year. Three others will be built over the next few years. This year, the resort naturalists will expand their explorations for guests of the 12 motus (small islands) that comprise the atoll, showcasing the array of bird and marine species and natural splendors including ponds, lagoons and rain forest that made this collection of islands a favorite of Tahitian royalty before Hollywood stars.

Source: Forbes

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