Marvels of South Pacific mirrored at Four Seasons Bora Bora
By JOE GARRY and DAVID FRAZIER
Thoreau sensitized us to the wonders of nature from a blade of grass glistening in the sun after a summer rain to the majestic mountain ranges in the Himalayas at sunset. After a lifetime of travel, we have endless iconic images of the wonders and diversity of nature. They all reconnect us to Thoreau’s philosophy that there is “something of the marvelous in all things of nature.”
We have just returned from sailing for 30 days through the South Pacific. Thoreau gave us a lens to appreciate these untouched wonders. It’s amazing how artists are drawn to beautiful and exotic places and how their art helps us to experience the wonder. Think of the writings of James Michener, not only in “Tales of the South Pacific” but “Return to Paradise,” Somerset Maugham in “The Fall of Edward Bernard” and Herman Melville in “Typee” — all of these works immortalize the mystery and magic of The South Pacific.
William Hodges was the first European artist to paint the South Pacific. He accompanied Captain Cook on his famous voyages in the late 18th century. His seascapes and portraits of natives electrified Europe. All of the philosophic elements of Romanticism came together in his provocative and sensuous images. The seductive qualities of the exotic and the bizarre mesmerized Europe. It is comparable to our computer-generated images of Mars.
It was, of course, Paul Gauguin who would create the definitive and lasting vision of the South Pacific. Hollywood in its versions of “South Pacific,” “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “Hurricane” never touched the use of light, color, composition, mystery and myth found in Gauguin’s vision.
It was Gauguin’s lens we used when we visited The Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora. We have had the pleasure of staying in Four Seasons properties in cities all over the world from Sydney to Boston and from Istanbul to Toronto. We are familiar with their perfect sense of style, comfort, luxury and service. This was our first introduction to The Four Seasons in nature. One hundred thatched over-water bungalows with thatched-leaf roofs made from the indigenous pandanus tree, seven beach-front villas and four restaurants make up this paradise. Situated between the deep blue Pacific and the multihued waters of a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the complex is situated on a private motu (a small islet) and surrounded by sparkling white sand fringed motus on an outer coral reef overlooking Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. Everything here is one with nature. We have 21st century comfort mixed with nature in a seamless union.
Where else can you watch colorful parrot fish swimming beneath the glass panels in the floor of the bungalows or have an exotic breakfast of fruits and gourmet treats served with fragrant bouquets of flower petals delivered in a canoe or watch Polynesian fire dancing while eating a succulent lobster bake or eat a feast prepared in an a’hi ma’a (Tahitian earth oven) on your own private white sand beach?
The Spa is the best facility we have visited in the world. The ali’i banana coconut scrub, pineapple citrus polish or limu (seaweed) body masque will make one a suitable model for a Gauguin painting.
The sapphire blue sky, the ever-changing turquoise lagoon and the clouds redefining the mountains are preparing us for the breathtaking sunset and the ink blue, brilliant star-studded sky as a succulent dinner of meka (South Pacific swordfish) and white Sarawak grapefruit from the Marquesas Islands is served on our private terrace. The sound of the sea lapping on the coral reefs is our bedtime lullaby. This brilliant new resort will be covered by all the leading travel magazines of the world and certainly it will be photographed by “Architectural Digest.” We were thrilled to have a sneak preview of one of the most imaginative and cutting-edge resorts in the world.
The green sea turtles, manta rays, mynah birds, geckos and angel fish are still calling us. Visions of the ancient Polynesians navigating by the stars, wind and ocean currents are still swirling in our imaginations. Pierre Loti, an 18th century sailor, wrote a book about falling in love with the South Pacific and set off a frenzy of interest in this untouched mythical kingdom. He would be happy to know that it still is pristine and the pearl of the Pacific. There is “something of the marvelous” here.
Visit fourseasons.com for more information.