Challenges of Booking a Miles & Points Trip to Bora Bora

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Challenges of Booking a Miles & Points Trip to Bora Bora

KeithChallenges of Booking a Miles & Points Trip to Bora BoraMillion Mile Secrets Team

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I’m turning 30 in November and using that as an excuse to plan a fun getaway.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching week-long trips I can book using mostly miles & points.  One of my trip ideas is a vacation with my wife to Bora Bora.

It Would Be Awesome to Celebrate My Birthday in Bora Bora. But I Might Have to Keep This Trip on My Bucket List a Bit Longer Because the Economics Don’t Make Sense.

I generally don’t mind splurging on luxurious miles & points getaways.  My wife and I took a once-in-a-life around-the-world honeymoon using mostly credit card points.  And we used more than 1 million miles & points for a trip to New Zealand and Sydney.

From my research, it would be relatively easy to book flights to Bora Bora using miles & points.  But once you’re there, securing a hotel stay requires a ridiculous out-of-pocket contribution.

Relatively Easy to Find Award Flights to French Polynesia

To get to Bora Bora, you must first fly to Tahiti.  Then, take a short ~50-minute inter-island flight to Bora Bora.  The round-trip inter-island flight costs ~$400 per person.

My wife and I are based in Los Angeles, and Air Tahiti Nui and Air France both offer non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti.  From what I’ve found, Air France offers the best deal.  For my desired travel dates, I can book a round-trip coach award flight for 51,000 Flying Blue miles and ~$189 in taxes & fees per person.

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM.  And all 4 major flexible points programs transfer to Flying Blue at a ratio of 1:1.  So my wife and I could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Flying Blue to book this award flight.

You Can Transfer Points From Any of the 4 Major Flexible Programs to Flying Blue to Book an Award Flight to Tahiti

United Airlines is also launching non-stop service from the West Coast to Tahiti on October 30, 2018.  The flight will depart from San Francisco.  A round-trip coach award flight on this route will cost 70,000 United Airlines miles.

Say What? 90,000 Points per Night for a Hotel Room?!

So miles & points can definitely help you save on airfare to Tahiti and Bora Bora.  But what do you do about paying for a hotel stay?

Nightly room rates at many Bora Bora hotels can exceed $1,000.  And if you want an overwater bungalow, the rate jumps to $1,500+ per night.

The 2 hotels I would consider booking in Bora Bora are the Four Seasons Bora Bora and The St. Regis Bora Bora.  These are 2 of the top-rated Bora Bora hotels based on TripAdvisor reviews.  And they have awesome overwater bungalows, which I’d definitely want to experience if I’m traveling all the way to the island.

The Overwater Bungalows at the Four Seasons Bora Bora Look Incredible!

Four Seasons doesn’t have a loyalty program, so you’d only be able to use points at this hotel if you book through a bank portal, like the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.  I looked into this option and using points linked to my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, it would cost 75,000 points per night.  That’s a lot of points!

So I thought my best option would be to redeem Starwood points at The St. Regis Bora Bora.  I’ve used Starwood points to book award nights at other top-tier hotels, like The St Regis Punta Mita.  Unlike most other Starwood hotels, you can’t book award stays at The St. Regis Bora Bora online.  Perhaps this might change when Starwood and Marriott officially merge programs in a few weeks.

When I called to inquire about available award nights, I learned the only available room types would cost 90,000 to 120,000 Starwood points per night.  That’s equivalent to 270,000 to 360,000 Marriott points night, which is just outrageous!

Instead of an award stay, I could also take advantage of a few credit card perks to book paid nights at one of these hotels.  For example, both hotels are part of the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts program.  Because I have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, I could book through AMEX Fine Hotels and enjoy:

  • 12:00 pm check-in (if available)
  • Guaranteed 4:00 pm late checkout
  • Room upgrades (if available)
  • Free daily breakfast for 2
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi when available
  • A unique benefit like a $100 dining credit or spa credit
  • Potentially a 4th night free at certain hotels

But to enjoy these added benefits, I’ll have to pay cash for the stay.  And 5 nights could easily mean $5,000+ out of pocket.  That’s more than I’m willing to spend for this trip.

Bottom Line

Bora Bora ranks high on my bucket list and I was hoping to knock it off in November as a birthday getaway.

I spent hours researching an itinerary and learned I could easily redeem miles for award flights to Tahiti, which is the first stop on a journey to Bora Bora.  In fact, I was surprised by how relatively inexpensive the award flights were.

You can book a round-trip coach award flight for 51,000 Flying Blue miles.  Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM.  And all 4 major flexible points programs transfer to Flying Blue at a ratio of 1:1.

But the challenge of making this trip a reality was booking a hotel stay with miles & points.  I have my mind set on staying at the Four Seasons Bora Bora or The St. Regis Bora Bora.  Room rates at these hotels can easily exceed $1,000, especially for an overwater bungalow.  I’m not interested in paying that much for a birthday vacation.  And finding available award nights or booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal would require an outrageous number of points.

So, Bora Bora will have to remain on the bucket list a bit longer.

If you’ve traveled to Bora Bora using miles & points, I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below!

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Did you consider staying at the Conrad? It’s a little cheaper than St. Regis and Four Seasons, but still a 5 star resort.

We did this trip in January 2018. Using Chase UR points to fly AirFrance out, with a paid upgrade to Business and then Delta miles on the return to fly Air Tahiti. We stayed at the Le Meridien Bora Bora during the SPG promotion where it cost 39k SPG points/night, plus the 5th free, for a total of 156k SPG points. It was right next to the St. Regis and you can take a boat between the two resorts. The biggest expense will be dining and drinks. The food options are extremely limited and expensive, given the location. Nearly $20 for a glass of wine!

After Aug 18 you’ll be able to use 60k Marriott points per night (as opposed to 360k) for reservations that you book through the end of the year, even if the stays are for next year. If you book next year then the rooms will cost up to 100k points per night. I plan to book at the St Regis Bora Bora. If that wasn’t an option then I’d probably consider the Four Seasons when they offer 3rd night free and use my Citi Prestige to get 4th night “free” and use TY points to cover the remaining nights!

I did a similar trip – booked Air Tahiti Nui via Air France’s website. 60,000 miles + 114EURO for two people to fly in economy. LAX-PPT.

We stayed in Tahiti for 3 nights, Moorea for 5, Bora Bora for 5 nights in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental. Hotels + internal flights for the 13 nights came to over $7k. Was it worth it? Probably not – I was expecting to find my ‘perfect’ beach in Bora Bora, but it simply didn’t exist.

I would probably just head to the Caribbean.


That’s my biggest fear! Greatly appreciate you sharing your firsthand experience.

Target the Conrad! With Hilton card sign ups a decent stay is within reach.

Same advice as above. An overwater bungalow is a relatively cheap upgrade from a standard room reward.


Thanks Brian and Anthony! Definitely a good excuse to get the AMEX Hilton cards. I appreciate your suggestions!