Greetings from Waiheke Island, New Zealand. This wonderful island is home to over 140 wineries and is a short 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland. We are here 4 nights, and the wine and views are awesome.
The only problem is that my camera has decided it won’t let me take pictures. Seriously, it works in every way but the most important one (it won’t press the shutter down).
Today’s podcast summarizes our thoughts on French Polynesia, after spending 11 nights there. Specifically Bora Bora.
We had 8 free nights from IHG and a 2 for 1 Ambassador certificate, yet we somehow managed to go way over our budget for August. How could this be?
Because Bora Bora is expensive! Expenses aside, though, I try to give an objective view on whether you should aspire to travel to Bora Bora in this week’s podcast.
Give it a listen and let me know if you agree.
C’mon Jeff… i have always been positive about your blog, But seriously? Of course those pay full whack for Tahiti are the rich who never have to ask “how much?”
For people like you and me who would never consider staying there by paying cash, frequent guest/ flyer programs are our only shot.
You saved $12,000 on flights and room rate alone, and still complain about having to pay $40 total in internet charges or $7 for beer?? And having to eat breakfast full price?
Honestly, sometimes I cross the line in being entitled, cos this game can be so easy, but you know what? If you think a resort like that is cheap or easy to run, you’re mistaken. It is a special place on earth, not one I’d return to actually, after 2 visits, I much prefer the Maldives (of course on points!) but hey I feel privileged to have been there and lived like royalty on pennies on the dollar.
When we went there last time, for a full week….on checkout, I realized we ate and drank our way through the resort, 3 of us, and paid less than just 2 nights room rate for EVERYTHING. Thats pretty awesome value and without the IHG program, and the way we can swing things, it would not have been viable.
In my humble opinion, if we get so cheap that we expect everything for free, or great value for food/drink after arriving gratis, or first world aspects in the middle of the bloody Pacific ocean…we are doomed, these hotels will say seeya, the party’s over.
I don’t disagree, but the one thing I will say is that part of our ability to travel full time is holding ourselves to a budget standard, even when we are in Bora Bora. It is hard to make it work on a budget in Bora Bora. I violated my rules in the name of cost savings overall and exactly what you say. But I still felt like a hypocrite in doing it. Two years ago I wouldn’t have blinked at the things I just complained about. My situation has changed, and I have to represent the situation, even if it sounds whiny.
Also, I think that staying in the same hotel for a week does make a big difference. I would go back to thalasso for a week tomorrow if I could book it.
Bora Bora can be done more reasonably if you go to the main town area and eat at the roulotte food truck (great fresh fish, rice, french fries, vegetables, salad, etc. for about $10-$15 a plate) and shop in the town market for baguettes and lunch meat, fresh fruits, snacks and veggies for $10 breakfast or lunches. When you are in a beautiful place like Bora Bora, you must plan on splurging for some meals and activities though.
We did go to the main town of Vaitape one day and bought a baguette and meat at the store. It was awesome for sure, but it did have a $28 bus trip charged by the hotel to get there. Also, there is no real place to store food other than the mini-bar, so it wasn’t practical to do a full grocery run. If you did this every day for 7 days, you might be able to cut your expenses by 30-50%. At that point, it just becomes expensive vs. extremely expensive though :).
And yes, I agree on splurging, which we did a few times. But my point overall is don’t go into these trips blindly. Understand that even with free flights + free nights, you will likely have a bill of over $1,000 coming to you if you stay for a week and eat 3 meals a day.
J. Grant says
Interesting story about all the additional costs, and what one can expect there. Thank you for that, as nobody talks about the extra charges. It helped me make my mind up about not ever going there.
You mention that they give you free internet for 2 connections, which is very generous. They’re not cutting you off at two devices, or assuming that you can get by with two devices, and instead they give you the option to pay to connect more than 2 devices. You make it sound like they wronged you there, and that’s interesting. Perhaps I am wrong to assume that most people who go there don’t have a family that brings along 5 devices, and even if they do, at $1K per night, they probably don’t think twice about paying $20 a day to connect an extra device.
Credit card bloggers sell Bora Bora as a dream vacation. They sell dreams… This is a dream for most people. Seems like one that would disappoint a bit.
I think it is worth mentioning for sure, because it does factor into the decision. Glad I could help you out in making that decision. If you have $3k to burn, it’s a worthwhile visit. If not, then there are better options.
The internet thing is a little odd opinion I guess. I got really worked up about it because of how it worked. You needed to choose the 2 device plan before connecting. Once you selected your two devices, you were stuck with them for 24 hours before the next connection cycle. I am fine connecting only 2 at a time for 2 people. Makes sense. But to only allow that decision once in 24 hours is BS. I had to cancel a business call because my phone could not connect. I had to upgrade just upgrade download something on my iPad.
I dislike that they force a choice. I interpret two devices as a judgement on your vacation. It is arbitrary to use one device or 10 in my opinion. They are drawing a line and forcing you to choose. I didn’t want to choose.
If it was 2 devices or all devices, I would understand, but it wasn’t even that. It was 2 devices or wait a day to make a better choice.
I am traveling and working. They forced a choice that got in the way of that. It disrupted my livelihood. In my opinion, that is not their choice to make.
Now imagine this and multiply by 5x for each property I visited having their own policies. That’s the reason behind my rant.
You may not have realized it, but you got stung with Delta’s europe origination fee of ~$140 per person. This is not a tax, but just a junk fee charged by Delta so that AF/KLM Flying Blue members don’t defect to DL skymiles. You can see this in the different between a RT and a OW.
MSP-LHR-MSP $195.60 in taxes
MSP-LHR One Way $5.60 in taxes
LHR-MSP One Way 218GBP = ~$330. The heathrow taxes are only the $190 in the round trip ticket. The other $140 is the DL fee. They gave us one ways with the changes this year, but this Europe origination fee sucks!
Yeah, I know that it is both the UK departure tax + Delta, but didn’t really have much of a choice to fly direct to MSP. It’s for a business trip, so all fees are write-offs. Helped me deal with the extortionary fees.
I did think about booking a round trip and paying cash for ~$1k and having an economy flight back to LHR at some point, but I don’t know when I’d actually use it.