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Two of Marriott’s most aspirational resorts are nearly 10,000 miles apart. Yet The St. Regis Bora Bora and The St. Regis Maldives are often lumped together when it comes to far-out uber-luxurious destinations.

Both offer overwater villas and some of the most peaceful environments points can get you, yet when all is said and done, these top-tier Marriotts can be incredibly expensive, even when you’re redeeming for your suite.

That said, for many travelers, visiting one of these resorts is still worth the effort and expense — but which should you pick?

In This Post

The St. Regis Bora Bora

For as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve pictured Bora Bora, I’ve thought of The St. Regis. As a lifelong Starwood enthusiast, it’s always been the most obvious choice. The challenge is that it used to cost a small fortune on points — approaching 100,000 Starpoints per night (equivalent to 300k Marriott points), depending on which villa you’d book and when you’d choose to stay.

That changed last year. Following the merger with Marriott, I was able to book two nights at a base reefside pool villa at the 60,000-point level, which technically remains available until March 2019, though awards are few and far between. At that rate, a St. Regis stay makes a whole lot of sense, and the resort’s proximity to other properties makes it possible to hop around as you see fit.

The St. Regis Maldives

(Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives)

Hands down my favorite resort in the world, The St. Regis Maldives is just about as remote as points hotels come. First you need to make your way to Male (MLE) — at least a one-stop trek from major gateways in the US — before continuing on to Vommuli island by seaplane or yacht. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so you won’t be able to easily move from one resort to the next, but for many vacationers, that actually adds to the appeal.

Given the resort’s small size and high market demand, paid rates can far exceed those at The St. Regis Bora Bora. Still, you can currently book the resort’s base villas for that same 60,000-point rate, and I’ve found far more widespread availability here.

Redemption Value

While the 60,000-point redemption level remains available for now, it’s due to increase when both properties move to Marriott’s Category 8 chart in March 2019. At that point, rates will apply as follows:

  • Off-peak: 70,000 points
  • Standard: 85,000 points
  • Peak: 100,000 points

Even at the 100,000-point rate, booking an award stay at both properties could make sense during especially expensive periods, such as over Christmas and New Year’s — when you factor in Marriott’s fifth-night free offer, you’re effectively paying 80,000 points per night whenever you book awards in five-night increments.

The St. Regis Bora Bora

Marriott’s top-tier French Polynesian property offers a total of four base rooms — at this property, they’re the reefside pool villas. While rates vary, a one-night AAA stay appears to start at roughly $650, depending on the exchange rate. You’ll pay 14% in taxes and fees on top of the rate, for a grand total of $740. Peak dates can cost up to $1,525 per night, plus a $130 round-trip boat transfer from the Bora Bora Airport (BOB) and a roughly $420 round-trip flight from Tahiti (PPT). At the current 60,000-point rate, you’re looking at a redemption value of between 1.23 and 2.54 cents per point.

The St. Regis Maldives

The chain’s star resort in the Maldives also offers four base rooms, called garden villas in this case. Rates vary even more here, from about $1,700 for a prepaid stay, after taxes and fees, all the way up to $5,500 per night during peak weeks, such as over Christmas and New Year’s. Seaplane transfers from Male (MLE) run an additional $695 round-trip. With the current Category 7 rate of 60,000 points, that gives you a redemption value of between 2.83 and a whopping 9.17 cents per point.

Verdict: Even when rates are at their lowest, you’re still getting a redemption value of 2.83 cents per point at The St. Regis Maldives, besting the Bora Bora resort’s peak redemption value of 2.54 cents. The St. Regis Maldives is the clear winner here, despite the slightly pricier transfer from the region’s main international airport.

Accommodations

While base points redemptions previously booked into overwater villas at The St. Regis Maldives, those looking to redeem the fewest number of points ended up with a land-based villa in Bora Bora. That changed a few months back: 60,000-point-redemption hopefuls now get land villas at both resorts.

The St. Regis Bora Bora

The property currently has just one reefside pool villa with updated furnishings, and that’s exactly the room I was assigned. It felt far fresher than the overwater villa I got to visit, and there’s loads of space, especially when you factor in the backyard and large private pool. You’re a long ways from a beach you can actually hang out on, though.

The St. Regis Maldives

Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives.
(Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives)

Although I’ve never actually stayed at a garden villa, they look very nice, with very similar finishes to the overwater villas I experienced twice. Also, given how recently the resort opened, I have no doubt that garden villas are considerably more polished than their equivalents in Bora Bora.

Verdict: Designers seemingly spared no expense when designing villas at The St. Regis Maldives, whether you end up overwater or on the beach with your own private pool, making it the clear winner here. And while Marriott Platinum upgrades are certainly never a guarantee, the resort does seem to move elite guests up to larger overwater villas from time to time, especially if you’re visiting during off-peak periods.

Resort and Amenities

It really depends on what you’re after. Though The St. Regis Maldives offers higher-end facilities throughout the resort, The St. Regis Bora Bora has far more usable land, with larger restaurants and bars, pools and public hangouts.

The St. Regis Bora Bora

Everywhere you turn, there’s a new place to hang out. There’s a large main pool with a swim-up bar, or the Oasis, if you’re looking for something quieter and a bit more private. The beach and main lagoon area are larger, too, and there’s a giant “lagoonarium” where you can swim with the fishes without the risk of encountering undesirable locals, such as a porcupine-like sea urchin. Nonmotorized water sports are free, as is access to the gym, though Wi-Fi performance leaves a lot to be desired.

The St. Regis Maldives

If there’s overlap in amenities at both resorts, the Maldives property simply does it better, with far newer (and higher-quality) facilities and a fresher feel overall. The design of the spa area is out of this world, the gym has higher-end equipment, the Wi-Fi works well and the restaurants are absolutely gorgeous. Consistent with other Maldives resorts, the main island is tiny, though, and the resort is smaller overall, meaning it may be easier to run out of activities on a longer stay.

Verdict: Tie

Food and Beverage

Regardless of which resort you pick, you’re going to spend a small fortune on food and drinks.

The St. Regis Bora Bora

There are five restaurants around the property, ranging from the casual Aparima Bar to the semiformal (and very expensive) Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges. Breakfast is included with some paid rates, but not award stays. Marriott Platinum members can select a full breakfast as their welcome amenity, however, or guests can purchase breakfast for about $52 per person per day, before taxes and fees. I found the breakfast spread to be lacking for a hotel of this caliber, and much of the other food was good, but hardly outstanding.

The St. Regis Maldives

There are six restaurants on site, ranging from Crust, a casual pizza spot on the beach, to Decanter, a semiprivate wine-pairing dinner in the sand-floored wine cellar. As with the Bora Bora property, breakfast is only included with some rate types, but it’s available free of charge to Platinum members on paid and award stays when selected as the welcome amenity. Otherwise, you’ll pay $55 per person per day, plus taxes and fees. The breakfast spread is out of this world, however, as are the pages of entrees you can order off the menu.

Verdict: While you’ll pay significant premiums at both resorts, overall I preferred the food at The St. Regis Maldives. The breakfast is especially fantastic, and with so many a la carte options available as well, a late-morning meal can easily hold you over until dinner, assuming you order enough.

Accessibility

Both resorts are hard to reach, though there are clear advantages to each, depending on where you live in the world.

The St. Regis Bora Bora

Anyone on the West Coast will have a far easier time reaching French Polynesia. Nonstop flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) can get you to Tahiti in less than eight hours, where you’ll connect to a short $420 round-trip flight on Air Tahiti followed by a $130 (round-trip) private boat to the hotel. In total, plan to pay about $550 to get to and from the resort, plus the cost of your flights to PPT.

The St. Regis Maldives

Flying from the US to Male requires at least one stop, with a connection in Abu Dhabi (AUH) via Etihad, Doha (DOH) via Qatar or Dubai (DXB) via Emirates getting you there a bit more quickly, especially if you’re flying from the East Coast. Round-trip seaplane transfers from MLE cost $695 per person — while domestic transfers are clearly more expensive here, The St. Regis Maldives rate includes access to a fantastic lounge at MLE. With a single flight, you’ll save a bit of time en route as well.

Verdict: Tie

Bottom Line

Anyone “forced” to choose between these two resorts is in for a treat no matter what, but for me, the winner is clear. Though I did enjoy The St. Regis Bora Bora, The St. Regis Maldives remains my favorite resort in the world — I’ve visited twice already, and I’m hoping to return for a third trip sometime within the next couple of years. It was also my top pick for my sister’s 10-night honeymoon, even though she’s already been there (and has yet to visit French Polynesia) as well.

Still, regardless of which resort you choose, now’s the time to book — I doubt we’ll ever see a better offer than the 60,000-point redemptions you can score right now.

Overall Winner: St. Regis Maldives

For more on The St. Regis Bora Bora and St. Regis Maldives, see:

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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