The InterContinental Le Moana feels like a more authentic experience, on the main island in bungalow-like rooms.
The InterContinental Thalasso is a luxury overwater villa, on a small private island.
Let me start by reviewing each of them, and then going over the major differences.
Follow the series:
- How We Did Two Weeks in Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea Hotels for FREE
- How to Get From The BOB Airport to InterContinental Bora Bora Hotels for Cheap
Note: I’ll talk about eating cheap next (and we ate real cheap).
The InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora
Even on the free shuttle to the hotel, I could tell the rooms we were passing were significantly bigger than the rooms at the Le Moana. They were huge.
Then again, for $1,000+, they better be!
Then again, I paid for all 5 nights using our free night certificates.
The rooms are basically little overwater houses. I believe all rooms are the same, and the difference are location. More expensive rooms are further out and have better views. The basic rooms are closer to the beach, the water is more shallow, and you’re looking at the beach instead of the mountain of Bora Bora.
Simply put, the hotel is more luxurious, and you can see why it’s on T&L’s top 500 list.
When you get to the island and see the view, you know why you picked this hotel. It is extremely photogenic. It is the best part. A view like none other.
The drawback of being at a luxury hotel with a remote location that requires a boat, is that it’s expensive. Sandwiches are $25 and the buffet is $80+ per person. Breakfast was offered for $20 a person (which we declined – I’ll explain in a later post).
Yet, for being a really expensive hotel, there weren’t many options. Most of the time only 1 of the two restaurants were open, there was one small swimming pool… and…
That’s about it!
While that is the main drawback (being trapped on an expensive resort), you actually can burn a lot of time going to the main island on the free shuttle, where there are actually reasonably priced places to eat.
You really get the best of both worlds: the view from the Thalasso and access to the Le Moana’s area via the free shuttle.
There is no snorkeling at the Thalasso. None. (In contrast to the Le Moana where there is some coral growing at the bottom of each bungalow).
I can’t emphasize enough that there is no snorkeling here. But! The GM said they are growing some coral and it will take another 18 months. So, if you’re reading this post after April 2017; let me know how it is now.
Despite the complete lack of coral, there are tons of sting rays. I learned this Kayaking out of the mini bay area of the hotel, we were passing tons of sting rays.
Then at 2pm everyday a guy comes out to feed the sting rays. Even before the guy showed up the sting rays were circling round and around the beach area. They were close enough that I was able to reach down and touch them.
And when the guy came out with food the sting rays attacked him. They were all over him for the food, like kids in a tent village were on us in Jaipur.
Seeing all the sting rays around was really a Bora Bora highlight for me.
The hotel is beautiful. Really, the view is beautiful.
The rooms are amazing. Booking right into the overwater bungalow, and the size of these things… it’s an experience.
I can’t really complain because I was trying to do it as cheaply as I can, but the hotel really nickles and dimes you. It’s just the Bora Bora way. The shuttle costing money at dinner time? Come on. Two devices for the internet!? Who cares how many devices are on a router? just limit the bandwidth per room if you’re worried about it. It’s completely illogical, unless you’re trying to nickel and dime people.
The InterContinental Le Moana
The main points are that you are actually on the main island and the hotel is more authentic.
Being on the main island means that you are close to cheap food, a grocery store, and more things to do.
The authentic part doesn’t matter to me because Bora Bora feels like a Polynesian version of a Pacific island. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t smack of culture, it smacks of tourism. Having bamboo in my room doesn’t make it feel farflung for me.
That being said, my mom and wife felt differently, as both like the Le Moana better. The reasons above apparently mattered more to them than me.
Side note. Then again, when I told them that rates at that time for the rooms were the same, both were surprised. Clearly the Thalasso was a more luxurious hotel, no doubt. But I don’t think it’s something Caroline cares a lot about.
As mentioned there is actually coral at the bottom of the rooms and walk ways at the Le Moana. Even from our room looking through the coffee table we were lucky enough to see an eel.
It’s way better than the Thalasso, but it’s nothing compared to Moorea. Still, it has coral right under the bungalows. The water is very clear and you can see very interesting things anytime in Polynesia. Therefore, in terms of being able to see fish from the room, it’s hard to beat.
The problem is that you don’t book right into overwater bungalows, and they don’t give any Ambassador benefits on award stays… sometimes. The second stay (we did night 1 and 7 at the Le Moana) they upgraded us. I actually asked what the Ambassador benefits were (given that we didn’t get any the first time), and was told they did upgrade this stay.
It seemed very odd to me. The first time we got nothing in terms of elite benefits. Not an upgrade, and not even fruit, or the other welcome gifts. The second time after I said I had no benefits and they gave us an upgrade and all the fruit on the island.
These hotels do not care about elite status, because half the people there are probably elites using points. They can’t upgrade everyone. And because IHG is literally the only hotel chain to exclude elite benefits like upgrades on award stays, these Polynesian hotels take the opportunity not to give those benefits.
IHG has already been extremely uncompetitive in benefits with no lounge or breakfast benefits for top tier elites, it seems with the loss of upgrade on awards… what do they have left? The benefits are now fruit and water. As valuable as bananas are, it feels vain.
Never more vain than these hotels.
The rooms are smaller and less luxurious than the Thalasso, but still a great experience.
Similarly, or more so, the resort is smaller than I’d expect. Smaller beach area, small pool, one dining option (in the hotel), etc… Yet, it doesn’t matter, given that you’re near places, and right next to a huge public beach area that always has empty areas (unless there is an event).
However, if your goal is to book into an overwater bungalow, try to get to the Thalasso. See my post on how we booked the rooms, my review of Hotel-Hustle… and click here to check out Hotel Hustle (which gives hotel award alters)
Quick Comparisons of the IC Le Moana vs Thalasso Bora Bora
Better rooms: Thalasso
Better view: Thalasso
Better location: depends if you want the view or to actually see more than the tiny beach. Most people would say Le Moana for the access to other beaches, better snorkeling, restaurants, grocery store, taxis to other places, etc…
Remember, there is a free shuttle from the Thalasso to the Le Moana (until 5), however, the boat ride gets old to me.
Style: The IC Le Moana is rustic and the Thalasso is modern. I prefer modern, some like feeling like you’re on an island.
The IC Le Moana has woven natural fiber mats for walls, and the Thalasso has dark wood and modern looking wallpaper, and art.
The walkways to the bungalows at the Le Moana are wooden boards, and the Thalasso has that chipped rubber like a jogging track. Sounds weird, but it’s nice.
Snorkeling: The Le Moana has more coral.
However, Thalasso has a sting ray feeding everyday at 2pm. Neither hotels have a ton of coral for snorkeling, but the Le Moana definitely has more.
Food: Le Moana is way cheaper. Order a pizza and pick it up at the bar for $12. Good? Not really, but there are places nearby.
At the Thalasso you are trapped with mediocre $25 sandwiches!
If Hotel-Hustle tells you the Thalasso is available, why not switch to an overwater bungalow?
Our strategy was to book the Le Moana if the Thalasso wasn’t available and then switch if the Thalasso opened up. We did that all but for the first and last night (to get the free airport shuttle from the main island). It worked out very well.
Overall, both were amazing.
If you only get the beach bungalow at Le Moana… well there are a lot of hotels like it in the world. Heck, it reminds me a lot of the Holiday Inn Phi Phi island in Thailand. Still great, just less once-in-a-lifetime.
The Thalasso might be more remote, which might be more boring… but for the view and overwater room alone, you must try it. It’s once in a lifetime. A couple/few nights might be enough for you, but it’s a must try.
For that reason I would say the Thalasso is the better InterContinental in Bora Bora.