Our 2nd Honeymoon in Paradise – Will I Get Stuck in a Garden Suite at the InterContinental Thalasso?

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The entry level rooms which you can book with points at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora are not overwater bungalows, but are garden villas also called “motu” villas.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

Villas “Motu” or an Overwater Bungalow

But very few folks spend lots of time and money to go to Bora Bora only to stay in a garden bungalow.  The essential Bora Bora experience looks like the picture below.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

What You Imagine Bora Bora To Be

But if you book an entry level room on points and the hotel is sold-out, you could end up in one of the three garden villas.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

What Your Garden Suite Looks Like

There are three coral garden suites at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora, room 301, 302, and 303.  Notice how far away they are from the overwater bungalows in the picture below.

Almost all the folks in this FlyerTalk thread claim to have received an upgrade to an overwater bungalow from the garden suite booked with points when visiting the InterContinental Thalasso.

However, there is a chance that the hotel will be sold out and you will have to stay in the garden suite.  I saw folks staying in one of the garden suites when we visited, and Bart Lapers who is a top tier Royal Ambassador had to stay his first night in the garden suite.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

InterContinental Thalasso Map (Courtesy Bart Lapers)

Some folks will feel comfortable rolling the dice and hope to get upgrade, while others will pay the upgrade or negotiate to pay the upgrade (via email with the hotel) for only a few days of their stay and hope not to be moved into the garden suite.

Initially, I was going to take a chance and see if I got upgraded, but I chickened out and paid the $175 (including taxes) to upgrade to the Emerald overwater bungalows.  I won’t be back in Bora Bora any time soon and didn’t want Emily to miss out on the overwater bungalow experience!

On the other hand, the garden suites appear to have a kitchen and will save you the cash cost of an upgrade.

Here’s a video review of the garden suites.

But I thought I’d have a peek at the garden bungalows while I was there.  Room #301 seemed to be the only garden bungalow used by guests.  Here’s the view from room #301.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

InterContinental Thalasso – Coral Garden Suite #301

There was a porch on the other side.

Room #301 Porch

The porch faced a small garden.

The Garden Overlooking Room #301

The garden suites are quite secluded.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

Room 302 had curtains blacking out the doorway, so I assumed that they were used by the hotel staff.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

InterContinental Thalasso – Coral Garden Suite #302

There was a resident cat on the porch of room #302.

Resident Cat

Room 303 also had curtains blacking out the glass by the door, so I’m guessing it was used by the staff.

InterContinental Thalasso Coral Garden Suite

InterContinental Thalasso – Coral Garden Suite #303

The InterContinental Thalasso does its best to upgrade folks on points to an overwater bungalow, but there are very few cases when that doesn’t happen.  I paid the upgrade fee to guarantee an upgrade to an overwater bungalow.

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22 responses to “Our 2nd Honeymoon in Paradise – Will I Get Stuck in a Garden Suite at the InterContinental Thalasso?

  1. 1)what points can u use to book the water view rooms? I have chase UR, how can they be used, and would it be worth it compared to paying cash???

    2)Best time to travel there?

    3)Is this the only hotel that one has to stay in to utilize rewards/points or there are other options too?

  2. LOL at the cat. When we were in Santorini last summer, you could “rent” a cat for 5 euro. I took a picture of the sign.

    • @rahul – This is a Priority Club hotel so we used Priority Club points. You can transfer Chase points to Priority Club points, but that isn’t a great value. There are other hotels in Bora Bora as well including a Hilton which we stayed in (review coming soon). See the trip planning post here for more information.

      @Lively
      – That is hilarious. The first time I’ve heard of renting a cat!

  3. It’s December and you still haven’t put up the review for the Hilton Bora Bora. Patiently waiting!

  4. I think it’s time that guests put pressure on this IC to simply CHANGE this ridiculous circumstance. Read Bart’s horrible experience- as an RC??!!?? Unbelievable. It’s obvious that the hotel simply has this extra ‘bungalow’- but more brazen is that the IC chain deliberately puts ‘garden villa’ as the only room which can be reserved on the web site using points. This is nothing but an old-style racket. It is surprising and unacceptable that the IC chain would allow it. The only way they will change is if pressured. Think about it- you are paying 50K points for the award per night. No breakfast is included ever. The hotel easily makes money on incidentals. Notice that the other Bora Bora IC property does not play this racket. I think many people will simply book the other property to ensure this doesn’t happen. So actually IC is shooting themselves in the foot. Yes Thalasso is a bit more expensive and a bit newer- but the other property has location going for it and certainly is still a nice property. This situation simply smacks of the local property running a racket. The 50K points even if ‘purchased’ at .07 still represents $350 plus $175 to ‘upgrade’- so still ‘paying’ $525 and then incidentals like breakfast etc. So paying for the upgrade really is just a fairly small discount on the room rate. They just don’t want you to be able to get in for $350 at that property. Again, this practice needs to be stopped- it is just unfair.

  5. I’ve read that if food shipments to the island get delayed, the guests in the garden bungalows are the first to be eaten. The one bungalow has the curtains drawn because that’s where the meat gets prepared. Not worth saving $175 to run the risk of being someone else’s dinner.

  6. was that $175 per night or for the stay?

  7. yea but if there is a tsunami or the ice bergs melt then the ocean rooms are swept away first!!!

    • @guest – I agree, but I don’t see them changing it anytime soon.

      @Corky Putt Putt – A-ha. So that explains the occasional screams coming from the garden bungalows.

      @carl
      – It was $175 per night.

      @oh no – Ha!

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  11. Hi Daraius, I am planning my trip to Bora Bora this November during Thanksgiving and thanks to your great report. I have booked 6 nights by points at IC Thalasso and am thinking about pay three nights for upgrade. Do you think it is with high possibility that I can stay at the OWB for the whole 6 nights? Another question is do I need to buy the PA membership? Is it helpful?

    • @David Du – I can’t say for sure since it depends on the hotel availability. You don’t have to buy the Ambasador membership, but it could help in getting a better room (though they don’t have to give you one on an award stay). Safe travels!

  12. fyi…They are no longer offering the Garden Suite for points reward. It is now the Emerald OWB! During 4Q2013, I booked a few nights (garden reward) but was waiting on 1 more reward night to open up. On 1/11/14, the night finally opened and the reward night was for the Emerald OWB. I looked at the previous reservations and they are now OWB as well. I guess IC listened to everyone’s requests. Lucky me. Am now set for paid 1st night (which will be upgraded per AMB), 2nd AMB weekend cert free night, and 4 reward nights (which will hopefully be upgraded and avoid the moving) for a a perfect honeymoon following our Maui wedding. Now to figure out this board and best options for food. Breakfast add-on option looks to be ~$20 pp which is cheaper than the prices from your 2012 visit.

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