While snorkeling was our most expensive excursion, the cheapest way we passed the time was by hanging out in our hotel all day. Well, cheap in the sense that we didn’t spend any EXTRA money on it. But the Intercontinental Thalasso is really nice and a great place to relax, so I thought I’d point out a few of our favorite recreational activities at the resort.
Swimming, Snorkeling, and Joe the Angry Poolboy
Let’s be honest: you book an overwater bungalow so that you can jump straight in the “pool.” And we did that a lot. Half an hour before dinner? Take a quick swim. Feeling like a pick me up in the morning? Take a quick swim. I can’t explain how convenient and amazing it is to just be able to open your deck door, walk down a few stairs and be in the ocean. The water is so blue and pristine, you just want to swim in it whenever you can. It’s also not that deep so even if you’re not a strong swimmer it’s fine, though there are some assorted rocks you might step on in the sand so you’ll need to watch your step.
From your porch you can swim over to the main resort, or out until a set of buoys that marks the safe swimming zone (I think mostly to prevent guests from being run over by boats). We ventured out to the buoys once, that actually was a pretty significant swim (and too deep for standing), though we mostly did it on our backs so it wasn’t too tiring.
You can also borrow snorkeling gear (fins and mask) from the pool. Here is where I share my only negative experience with staff at the Thalasso – Joe the Angry Poolboy. I don’t actually know his name, but we called him that because, well, I’m Joe the Angry Boy in many regards, so it seems fitting.
So we had two main interactions with Joe the Angry Poolboy. The first was at noon on one of our first days at the Thalasso – every day there is a cultural activity at the pool hosted by the pool staff. Some days it’s making hats, other days it’s making food, etc. etc. The day we dropped by they were making a traditional Polynesian fish dish, ceviche-esque. We watched for awhile but were one of the last people to show up.
Once the demonstration was over, Joe the Angry Poolboy started spooning the fish into bowls for guests to eat. Jess and I waited patiently, we figured since we were one of the last to show up (though not the last), we’d just wait until the end to try some. For some reason, though, Joe the Angry Poolboy didn’t make a bowl for us! He kind of just pointed at the bowl and gave me a look that was like “you can serve yourself.” Not totally rude, but not very friendly either. In fact, in my head, I now imagine him TOSSING THE BOWL at me and saying “get it yourself!” (That didn’t happen though, haha). Anyway, I was like, okay, and I got a bowl for Jess and that was that.
Fast forward to the day we were picking up snorkeling equipment for Pure Snorkeling. We dropped by the concierge and she told us to ask the poolboys at the pool house for the equipment. I was like, oh man, I hope Joe the Angry Poolboy isn’t there. Of course, when we showed up, there was absolutely nobody there. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. So I kinda wandered around the pool area, and I saw a poolboy (they are impossible to miss because they are never wearing shirts) setting up some lounge chairs. I was like, “hey, the concierge said we could get snorkeling equipment from the pool house?” When the poolboy turned around, it was…Joe the Angry Poolboy! Dun! He gave me the same not rude but not friendly look and was like, “Busy! Get it from the concierge.” That I am not exaggerating, those were the actual words spoken to me. Anyway, I went back to the concierge and told her the poolboy said to get it from her, and so she took us back to the pool house and gave us the equipment. Still, the whole exchange was kind of weird. Why didn’t she just help us in the first place? I would have avoided Joe the Angry Poolboy’s wrath!
OK, so, long diversion aside, you can borrow snorkeling masks and fins for free at the poolhouse. And if nobody is there, you can ask the concierge (which I wish I had known!). There isn’t great snorkeling at the Thalasso itself – they actually made an artificial pond for snorkeling. There are some cool fish there, but it’s artificial, so it’s not like a mind-blowing experience. Still, it was a super nice way to pass the time when we didn’t feel like just plain swimming.
Joe the Angry Poolboy, I’m sorry if I did something to offend you!
Exploring the Hotel
Our second favorite activity at the hotel was just walking around and soaking it all in. The Thalasso looks like two crab claws and there are bungalows lining each claw. It is very pleasant to walk down one or more of the claws just to relax, especially at dusk or at night. We did this every night it wasn’t raining, you get slightly different views of Mount Otemanu on each claw and it is just stunning. One night I was a little um, happy, and one of the staff driving by in a golf cart actually offered us a ride home. But other than that, it was just so nice to walk around and breathe in the fresh air.
There are a lot of other things to see at the hotel. There is a tennis court that kind of looks like it is in the middle of a tropical rainforest, needless to say we didn’t play any tennis (though you can borrow equipment for free from Joe the Angry Poolboy). There is also a kind of impressive beach walk behind the resort, impressive because of the breaking waves. The sun is O-ppressive though, so I didn’t really enjoy going back there too much. There a bunch of trails twisting in and around the resort, so we never ran out of places to walk. Some walks were nicer than others, my favorites were still on the crab claws.
Canoes, Kayaks, and Paddleboats
Oh man, I just remembered, I had a third Joe the Angry Poolboy encounter! You can borrow canoes, kayaks, or paddleboats for free. We borrowed a kayak and went out on the water for awhile – it was a fun time although Jess and I don’t do very well on kayaks because our kayak teamwork leaves a lot to be desired. “PADDLE RIGHT!” “I AM PADDLING RIGHT!” “LEFT LEFT NOOOOOOO AHHHHHHH!” <= actual quotes
Anyway, when we were done, we were trying to get the kayak back on the shore. Let me tell you, I was struggling. Struggling. I had no idea what to do or where to put it. And who showed up? That’s right, Joe the Angry Poolboy! He was mumbling some instructions to me about where to put the kayak. I must have looked super pathetic because finally he was like “forget it” and he actually helped me put the kayak back in place. I was like wow, I am that incompetent that Joe the Angry Poolboy actually helped me to do something. I have sunken to an all time low.
But yes, the various boating equipment you can borrow is sure to be a hit with the kids. Overall, I actually think the Thalasso is a great resort for families, there is a lot of stuff for kids to do (although not a kids program as far as I could tell).
There are some other things to do at the resort. There is a spa which deserves it’s own post (and then some), there are some bars and pool tables which I basically covered in the restaurants post, and there is a pool itself which is really nice but also completely uninteresting compared to the Pacific ocean. I will also note that there is a shop on-site to buy black pearls and the woman who was working there was super helpful. We went in on a day it was pouring and there was nothing to do and got a nice little pearl for a decent price. She was super friendly and accommodating even though it was pretty obvious we weren’t going to be spending a lot of money. I know it’s her job but I still appreciated her good customer service (she finished helping us before getting to a couple that had been waiting that I am sure WAS going to spend a lot of money).
Intercontinental Thalasso Staff
I was going to do another post on this in and of itself but since this series is already ten years long I’ve decided just to include it here (it seems fitting). By and large, the staff at the Thalasso was wonderful. They were very accommodating and helpful, and always smiling and friendly. There were days when our room wouldn’t get made because we were in there when housekeeping dropped by (and due to distance of rooms it took hours for them to swing back), but whenever I would call the front desk we’d get immediate service (including room cleanings). One tip I would have is this – I’m not used to “asking” for a lot from the front desk, but the Thalasso seems like one of those places where they are happy to serve you, but won’t necessarily do it unless you ask. I’m talking about even simple things like turndown service that happen in similar caliber hotels in the city without you having to ask. Or even room cleaning. So, pick up that phone and hit the “instant service” button, I actually got the feeling that they preferred people do it that way.
One last note on Joe the Angry Poolboy – though I didn’t have the best interactions with him, most of my recounting of experiences is in a joking manner – it’s not like he was a terrible poolboy. In fact, he seemed perfectly nice to other people. I literally wonder if I did something to offend him that I wasn’t aware of. All the other Poolboys, like Bill the Happy Poolboy, were super friendly and accommodating to us. Anyway Joe, if I did anything to offend you, I apologize, and I just hope you were having a few off days (I didn’t see him for the whole back half of our stay). Honestly, being an ornery guy from time to time, I can relate, so I don’t really hold his behavior against him or the hotel.
The Intercontinental Thalasso seems to be designed so that you don’t want to leave. Obviously this keeps you in their restaurants where they make money, but the benefit is there are a lot of things you can do for free. I wouldn’t say it’s exciting stuff, but it’s nice to have free things to do in such a beautiful location – I’d say staying at the hotel was just as enjoyable as going to the main island. Bora Bora, as I’ve said before, is for straight up rest and relaxation, and staying on the Intercontinental Thalasso premises is a great way to do that.
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