Bora Bora with points is a dream come true.
Fancy spending your holiday in an incredible overwater villa in Bora Bora? Yes?
Got a few thousand pounds going spare? No? That’s not a problem. You can just use points.
The Intercontinental Thalasso Bora Bora is one of the most sought after IHG rewards redemptions. It can be very hard to find availability.
It is possible though, once you know how. I’ll show you how, and how to get a free night when there is no availability with points.
There’s more than just the Thalasso. With IHG points you can book another 3 brilliant hotels in French Polynesia.
The Intercontinental Moorea is superb. It’s not quite as good as the Thalasso, but it’s close, and you can get an overwater villa booking on points. There’s also more availability.
Then you have the Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora. It’s definitely second-best to the Thalasso, but availability is easy and it’s cheaper. It has some other advantages too – It’s on the main “motu” (island) giving access to more activities, and you can transfer to the Thalasso to use the spa and dining.
Finally, the Intercontinental Tahiti is in a less idyllic location but at just 50000 points and being close to Papeete airport it’s a great option for the start or the end of your trip to French Polynesia.
Booking Intercontinental Hotels in Bora Bora with points
The Intercontinental Thalasso is one of the most competitively sought after IHG redemptions, and one of the top choices for if you want to book Bora Bora with points.
There’s one reason why. A standard room redemption for 70000 points gets you an overwater villa.
At Le Moana and Moorea, and at other Bora Bora resorts like the stunning Conrad Bora Bora Nui, rooms available to book on points are not overwater villas.
Instead, you can book garden, beach, or resort rooms. There are still ways to get overwater villas on points at those places, and we’ll come to that later, but only the Intercontinental Thalasso lets you book an overwater villa in Bora Bora with points.
Booking Thalasso Bora Bora with points
What do you get when you book the Thalasso Bora Bora with points?
Here are the types of “Suite” you can book at the Thalasso. Those prices are the cheapest non-refundable rates and don’t include tax, by the way. Take the cheapest one, the Diamond Overwater Villa at £920 per night.
Add tax and it’s £1098.
Make it a refundable rate and it will come to £1220.
Of course, rates vary according to when you book and the dates you choose, but it’s never going to be “cheap”.
But let’s look on the other tab, for a “Standard” room. It’s an overwater villa, coming in at £1110 per night for a refundable rate including tax. Or you can have it for just 70,000 IHG points. If you know how.
I value an IHG point at 0.45p. That valuation is based on what is easy to achieve, without placing too many restrictions on where and when you redeem. You can get less than that, but it’s easy to achieve at least 0.45p.
70,000 points at 0.45p each comes to £315. However you look at it, this is a bargain.
How to book Intercontinental Thalasso with points
When you look for availability at the Thalasso Bora Bora you won’t see any. You’ll start to think it isn’t possible, but it is. Here’s how it works.
There are reward nights at the Thalasso Bora Bora. There aren’t a huge number. They get snapped up as soon as they appear.
Reward nights come from the same pool of rooms as rooms booked with free night certificates. It is possible to book with free night certificates earlier than it is possible to book with points. If the reward inventory has been booked up with free night certificates, no points nights will appear.
Reward nights that can be booked with points become available 120 days beforehand. If you search later than today+120 days, you won’t find anything.
Search for today+120 days and you may find something, if it hasn’t already been taken. You can prove to yourself that this 120 day rule is correct because it applies to all 4 of the Intercontinental resorts in French Polynesia, and availability is easy to find at the Moorea and Tahiti hotels.
Search for Bora Bora with points for today+120 days and you will very often see availability at Moorea or Tahiti. Change your search to the next day and you won’t see anything.
Step 1 is to work out what day you need to search for availability. The easiest way is to use the Date and Time calculator tools at timeanddate.com. Go to this page.
For example, if you wanted to book rooms for 1st July, set the start date to 1st July, select subtract, enter 120 days, and click calculate. The answer is 3rd March.
On 3rd March, rooms for the 1st July will become available for booking on points, if there are any left in the pool.
Step 2. The inventory is added to the booking system at midnight. That’s midnight, French Polynesian time.
You can use timanddate.com to work out what time that will be for you. Go to the Time Zone Converter page, enter Bora Bora as the first city and set the time to 0:00, then enter your city to see what time it will be.
On the 3rd March at 10am in London, 11am in Paris, or 5am in New York, rooms will appear.
Here’s the last thing you need to know. Other people know these rules. Other people want the dates you want. Other people will get up at 2am or 5am to get these rooms. Other people have practiced quickly searching and booking, so they can do it faster than other people.
For example, you will find that the mobile app tends to work faster than the web app. You need to practice. You need to be ready on the search results page to click through at exactly midnight Bora Bora time, click the hotel, click the room, click book, and confirm. Fast.
You won’t have time to think about it or to read the terms or figure out which button to press. You have to go go go. Practice like a Formula 1 pit stop crew, and be ready to do it in less than 2 seconds or you’ll miss it.
Points bookings in Bora Bora are refundable, but don’t do what some scummy people do and book dates you don’t want hoping to then trade them. it doesn’t work. If someone offers to trade, they have to cancel their booking, and it probably will not come back up for booking on points.
Five final tips.
First, start checking every morning to get used to doing the search quickly and so that you can see that reward nights do appear at that time and get snapped up immediately. Then, when it’s time for the dates you do want, you’ll know how to do it.
Second, be flexible in your dates. If you can’t get Monday and Tuesday, maybe you can get Wednesday and Thursday.
Third, keep checking the days you want, especially close to your travel dates. A lot of people cancel close to the time and you can snap it up if it becomes available.
Fourth, book Le Moana if it’s available but Thalasso isn’t. You can always transfer between the two.
Fifth, take whatever you can get. Even if you only find one reward night, take it. It’s a magnificent resort and you can easily transfer to Le Moana or the Conrad etc. And other dates might open up nearer the time as others cancel.
Free nights in Bora Bora
A lot of people have free-night certificates and these can be used to book up the rooms earlier than they become available on points. There’s a small number of rooms and they can all be taken with certificates before you get chance.
For UK readers, there are two ways to get in on this yourself. One is to join the Intercontinental Ambassador program. This will cost you $200 (£155) but comes with a number of benefits. If you stay even occasionally at Intercontinental Hotels you can do well out of this.
That £155 gets you these benefits when staying at Intercontinental hotels:
- Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club (for all IHG hotels)
- A guaranteed room upgrade
- 4pm late checkout
- $20 food and drink credit every stay
That’s pretty decent, especially the guaranteed upgrade, but best fo all is the Free Weekend Night certificate.
The Free Weekend Night certificate that comes with Ambassador membership allows you to book two weekend nights and pay for one.
You have to book at least 2 consecutive nights, and one of them must be Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and you have to book a special rate which is equivalent to the standard flexible rate, so it’s not the cheapest rate.
A free night when you book 2 sounds like half price. The rate you book will be more than the cheapest non-refundable rates, so in reality it’s not quite as good as half price, but with prices like they are at the Thalasso, it’s still a massive discount on a 2 night stay, even if you factor in the $200 fee.
You can also get a completely free night on any day of the week thanks to the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card. If you can spend £10,000 in a year on the IHG Mastercard then you get a free night certificate.
Clearly that’s a lot, but Mastercard can be used anywhere and many people who put all their spending through the card can reach £10k.
You also earn IHG points while you spend, in fact you’ll earn 20,000 points, and there is currently a bonus of 20k points when you spend your first £200.
How to guarantee an upgrade in Bora bora
Join the Intercontinental Ambassador program and you get a guaranteed upgrade when you stay at an Intercontinental Hotel. This should apply on a reward night too. A lot of people join the Ambassador program before visiting Bora Bora because the value of the upgrade can be significant.
Joining the Ambassador program is a very good idea if you have booked reward nights at Tahiti, Moorea, or Le Moana.
Book Intercontinental hotels in Bora Bora with points and except for the Thalasso those reward nights will not be for overwater villas, an upgrade is much more valuable.
There are also 4 Intercontinental resorts in Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti, and chances are you will use several of them, getting your Ambassador benefits at each one.
How to improve your chances of getting an upgrade
Book Bora Bora with points and you have less ability to choose your room, so getting an upgrade becomes more important.
Travel in shoulder or low season and there will be a little less competition for upgrades. Thalasso is busy all year round, but you have a slightly better chance away from peak season.
It also helps if you have higher status in IHG. The Ambassador membership or the IHG Premium Mastercard both get you straight to Platinum status. Platinum doesn’t bring many benefits, but it does put you higher up the list when upgrades are allocated.
Bear in mind also that you earn more points on paid stays when you are Platinum, and if you are paying cash for a night at the Thalasso it can be a decent amount of extra points.
Intercontinental Moorea, Le Moana, and Tahiti - Book Bora Bora with points
I stayed at all four of the French Polynesia Intercontinental properties, and the Conrad Bora Bora.
Of the Intercontinental resorts, Thalasso is the best, but the Conrad is better.
Of the other 3, Le Moana is the most sought after and hardest to get, but it’s nowhere near as good. If it was 50,000 points instead of 70,000, it would be a great deal. It’s a great resort and you’ll have a great, it’s just that the less talked-about and cheaper Intercontinental Moorea is much, much better.
The Moorea is not on Bora Bora, but flights around the islands are easy, and Moorea can be reached by ferry from Tahiti. Renting a car and having a road trip around Moorea is great fun and gives you access to a lot of things to do, and the resort itself is brilliant.
It’s not quite so postcard perfect as the Thalasso, but in it’s own way it is a superb resort.
And it’s only 50,000 points, which makes it a bargain.
The Intercontinental Tahiti is a bigger, less appealing place, with less of the class and privacy. I fund it a bit disappointing, but considering the cost of other hotels near Tahiti airport, it is still a decent deal at 50,000 points.
Tahiti is easy to get on points and ideal for a pre or post flight night, but that’s all I’d use it for.
Le Moana is hard to get on points and not a big loss if you can’t get it. Its biggest benefit is as an easy alternative for the nights you can’t get the Thalasso.
Moorea is a brilliant resort and a bargain, and it’s so much easier to find availability.
Thalasso is hard to find, but if you prepare and act fast it is possible, and it is definitely worth the effort.