French Polynesia is the world’s friendliest nation, says US publication Condé Nast Traveler, and it shows at every level – if you run into the islands’ President, Edouard Fritsch, which is possible as he’s an out-and-about person, he’ll treat you as a long-lost friend.
A collectivity of France, the history of this nation, with 118 islands stretching over more than 2,000 sq km of the South Pacific, is fascinating, but keep off nuclear tests and colonialisation. Instead, learn the lore of generations through culture. It’s everywhere. Tattoos, invented here, are sometimes full-limb, even full-body, works of art.
At InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa, one of the superb concierges, Teva Lai Mink, has been dancing since he was eight. Today he’s often, off-duty, at it, at full-sweat intensity, 2.5 hours or more. Some routines, he says, are mixed, others are strictly only for the guys. No, he’s too busy to take part in the hotel’s regular shows, elaborate Friday dinner-dance and Saturday brunch affairs at the Te Tiara pool-side restaurant.
On six hectares of gorgeous beachfront land looking across at Moorea, the sprawling three-floor structure evolved out of the much-loved Beachcomber. Today there are 263 keys, including 15 overwater villas – they say confidently that overwaters were created here, not in the Indian Ocean. Connectivity’s good enough to allow work outside on your 13.6 sqm deck. WFH, Work From Heaven, looking across 15km of pale turquoise water at Moorea, another island.
There are six beaches and three big pools. There’s tennis, or go for petanque and endless watersports. Of course there’s a Tiki Bar, with elaborate colourful cocktails à la Trader Vic’s. Three massive pools also have bars.
Most sophisticated is Le Lotus, which accompanies Le Lotus restaurant where dishes like lightly-seared tuna with lobster raviolo are designed by French celeb chef Bruno Oger. Try a Tahitian rosé, from a French winemaker who came on holiday and threw away his return ticket. Sometime, don’t miss that island staple, a Poke bowl, rice plus protein plus veg.
And after a good night’s sleep, it’s breakfast at Te Tiara. A kaleidoscope of local fruits can be followed by whatever, including rather-heavy coconut bread. On Sundays, by the way, reserve ahead for that breakfast-brunch show, which every week attracts about 500 locals attracted by the buffet and, yes, the dance show. There’s something about happy grown-ups sometimes dressed in feathers or straw, and of course they invite you to join them on-stage. Dressed as you are.
Mary Gostelow publishes the daily girlahead.com, a weekly newswire Mary Gostelow’s Inner Circle, and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, all part of Almont Global.