Reader Question: How to Book An Over Water Bungalow at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora

Reader Question: How to Book An Over Water Bungalow at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora

Million Mile SecretsReader Question: How to Book An Over Water Bungalow at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora BoraMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader Jenny writes in asking (bolding mine):

I would love to go to the Intercontinental Thalasso.  It looks absolutely amazing!  However, I noticed that the only room type they allow reward points to be booked for is a coral suite far from the beach. Do you know how I can book an overwater bungalow using points? Or points plus cash?

Every week or so, I will post a  reader question on the blog and ask you to write in your suggestions in the comments.

After a few days, I’ll compile the responses along with my thoughts and publish it on the blog!


1)   What can Jenny do to get an over-water bungalow, instead of a beach bungalow at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora?

2) Can she book an over-water bungalow using only points?

3) What should she do so that she’s assured of an over-water bungalow for her entire vacation?

Please help Jenny and her husband have Big Travel with Small Money in the comments below!

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Hilton Bora Bora Nui and Hilton Moorea will offer paid upgrades to overwater bungalows confirmed in advance on points stays

Separately I have this set up for myself at the Park Hyatt Maldives...

Million Mile Secrets

@ArizonaGuy, @Steve Schwartz, @Gary Leff, @LarzMN, @David - Thanks so much for freely sharing your knowledge and suggestions!

I've stayed at this property before (for my honeymoon). My best advice is to book your room and then buy Ambassador membership (around $150, I believe). That membership will guarantee you an upgrade to the next level above your room type booked for the entire stay. That could be savings in the thousand$ over the entire trip. I don't know if it works for reward stays though.

Isn't there an award property of some type (can't recall the affiliation) that ONLY offers overwater bungalos and thus that room type IS a standard booking? Or am I thinking of the Maldives?

Priority Club doesn't offer an option to reserve a better room for additional points.

The terms and conditions of the program even say that hotels don't have to honor most status benefits like upgrades on award stays (here they trail all the other major programs!).

Intercontinental Thalasso is still one of the very best uses of Priority Club points, and it's actually not that easy an award to get because there aren't a ton of 'base' level rooms here. So, and since awards are cancellable, I would start by securing the room on points.

Then, once done, I would email the hotel and inquire about a cash buy-up to confirm a better room in advance. Buy ups to overwater bungalows are very common in French Polynesia, every hotel will generally offer them although most times it's offered subject to availability at check-in.

If an overwater bungalow is a must and the hotel won't offer a confirmed buy up in advance, and they don't want to chance it, then of course one can always cancel. But I'd deal with the hotel on the basis of a real reservation. The question can of course be posed in the hypothetical without one, and then if you don't like the answer maybe someone else will give a better one on a subsequent email. But I'd still secure the points booking first.

Hilton Bora Bora Nui will allow buy up for additional HHonors points but the buy up will be excruciatingly expensive. St Regis Bora Bora can be secured on SPG points, their buy up will be somewhat more reasonable but the inital points price will be mind numbingly expensive.

For Bora Bora, the best strategy is likely HHonors or Priority Club points bookings and then buyup if an overwater bungalow is a must. (Incidentally, even the Intercontinental Tahiti near the airport has overwater bungalows, those are much more reasonable, one might even consider an overwater bungalow there and a standard redemtpion on Bora Bora).

Steve Schwartz

FWIW, I've had a number of free stays at Ritz Carltons in both NYC and Palm Beach. I call each time and ask for an upgrade (paid) to Club Level. For those who don't know, it includes 5 food presentations throughout the day and a wonderful place to relax. Each time I was charged only $100 total per day - a true bargain.

I would suggest Jenny call the hotel directly and ask what they can do. If she likes the answer, print out the email after having the agent confirm the upgrade and she should be set. No idea if this will help but a good first step.

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