Exclusive: What's New at Four Seasons Bora Bora and Hualalai?

We just wrapped up a visit with Brad Packer, who represents two notable (but aren’t they all?) Four Seasons properties in Bora Bora and Hawaii Island’s Hualalai. Packer brought us up to speed on what’s happening at the two resorts.

The Four Seasons Bora Bora opened just as the recession hit, and Packer says the team was worried about how it would fare as the economy tanked. “Sure, it costs $1,000 per night and $2,000 to get there—but you’ll love it!” he remembers telling luxury travelers as he encouraged them to visit. And, as it turned out, he was absolutely right, and the hotel is thriving as it develops into a destination in its own right. Small shrubs that were planted at opening have grown into verdant foliage, and the resort is now attracting significant destination wedding and honeymoon business. (International weddings are now legal in Bora Bora.)

The Four Seasons Hualalai, on the other hand, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, following what is essentially three years of renovation. (The resort underwent a major upgrade in 2009, a soft renovation last year and then had to shut down for six weeks following the tsunami in March.) While the team was cleaning out the sand that had washed onto the resort from the beach, they also underwent new service training and used the opportunity to make other small upgrades that might have been difficult with guests around.

One hotel fact that Packer is particularly proud of is the high guest return rate: approximately 50 percent. “They come back because they know what we do and do well, but we always want to give them new experiences,” he says. To that end, new green-friendly rooms have opened around the King’s Pond snorkel pool that use carafes of water instead of plastic bottles and large (permanent) ceramic bottles of shampoo and conditioner instead of small plastic. And Executive Chef James Babian has partnered with local farmers and fishermen so that a full 75 percent of everything served at the restaurant is grown or caught on the island. Better yet, Babian’s agreement with the farmers guarantee that if they grow the produce he needs for the hotel’s kitchen, he will buy a certain amount of the crop. It promises quality ingredients for the hotel and stability for the farmers and fishermen.

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