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Sofitel French Polynesia Celebrates 50 Years of Iconic Overwater Bungalows

  • Written by Ginni Post



The signature overwater bungalow, first invented in the Islands of Tahiti and now the quintessential icon of paradise, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. For travellers looking for the perfect South Pacific escape, staying in an overwater bungalow is a 'can't miss experience'. From direct access from a private deck into the world-renown Tahitian lagoons, to lounging on the balcony of a thatched-roof hideaway with all the amenities and service of a first class hotel, the overwater bungalow is the symbol of an ultimate private getaway.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia is offering a complimentary lunch for two people per stay for every booking made in an Overwater Bungalow. This exclusive offer is valid now until 31 December 2017 and can be booked via Sofitel.com, accorhotels.com or your travel agent. 

The overwater bungalow was first conceived and built in the lagoon of Raiatea in 1967 by three American hotel owners known as 'The Bali Hai Boys.' They took traditional local Polynesian grass huts and set them on concrete stilts over the water's edge. Soon after, Hotel Bora Bora was conceived and it became the first luxury overwater bungalow resort on the island of Bora Bora. In the 90's, scientific research indicated that overwater bungalow stilts offered an artificial shelter for fish, which in turn contributes to the protection of the fragile lagoon ecosystem.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort built its first overwater bungalow in 1996. Since 2006, the hotel has been participating in a local program which forbids all motorised activities around the property in a bid to protect its beautiful lagoon.

Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort was originally built in 1979 for the Hurricane movie produced by Hollywood filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis and features 13 overwater bungalows. While, Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, the only boutique hotel on Bora Bora and on its own private island, has 20 overwater bungalows facing glorious Mount Otemanu.

Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia recently introduced a new 'Horizon amenities' program, which is available at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island. The amenities include a bottle of Champagne on arrival, private in-room check-in, Lanvin amenities, priority seating at all restaurants, shoe shining, express ironing services, and butler service.

What exactly is an overwater bungalow?
Unlike a typical hotel room, these traditional pandanus-leaf thatched-roof bungalows or villas sit above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many overwater bungalows, tropical fish swim below a glass panel at the foot of the bed; so the blues of the lagoon reflect and fill the bungalow. The overwater bungalow offers a king size bed, luxurious bathroom and a private terrace, where breakfast can be delivered by outrigger canoe. The lapping waves of the gentle spectacular lagoon are just outside and all overwater bungalows have direct access into the lagoon for a private swim with the fish and the rays.

Sofitel, AccorHotels' authentic luxury brand, blends local culture and French art de vivre to create magnificent moments for international travellers seeking a uniquely elegant experience.

Guests staying at one of Sofitel's 120 addresses will enjoy design, culture, gastronomy and wellness. All over the world, Sofitel promises travelers looking for contemporary accommodation, a skillful blend of local culture and French art de vivre. Each address is distinctive, with its own “cousu-main” service, stylish interior, and inspired and creative gastronomy. The brand's hotels are located in large cities like Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai, or set against wonderful landscapes in destinations like Morocco, Egypt, Thailand and even French Polynesia.

AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,100 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 3,000 of the finest private homes around the globe.

sofitel.com | accorhotels.com

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