Manea Spa

Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa, Taha’a, French Polynesia, letahaa.com

Splashing beneath my overwater bungalow in the warm, salty waters of the southeastern Pacific Ocean, I feel like I’ve drifted off the face of the earth and found the perfect hideaway. Le Taha’a Resort is an idyllic Relais & Châteaux property that can be accessed only by boat, as it is located on an offshore inlet that the Tahitians call a “motu.” Their singsong greeting, “lululu,” is infectious, and I feel like an island girl after a luxurious week staying at the Te Tiare Beach Resort on Huahine and then the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa, both of which have their own Manea Spas (maneaspa.com). Here on Taha’a—which has become my favourite Polynesian island—my suite-on-stilts has a private outdoor terrace with a covered sitting area and steps leading down into the water. Indoors, I watch the fish swim by through an in-floor glass window; room service arrives in a canoe. The resort offers excursions to black-pearl farms and vanilla fields, snorkelling through coral reefs, swimming with stingrays and lemon sharks, and fine dining at Orhiri, where the menu features Polynesian-influenced French cuisine. In the couples-sized spa tucked behind a grove of palm trees between the lagoon and the pond, I choose between Taha’a vanilla oil and Tahitian tiare-flower oil for my Monoï Maitai Relaxing Body Massage ($160). The serene setting of my private treatment room, with its open-air view of the lagoon, bamboo floors, coconut-wood walls and white-and-yellow frangipani flowers floating in water-filled tapas bowls, soothes my mind before I even lie down upon the massage table. Using traditional monoï oil made from coconut oil and scented with tiare flower, the masseuse releases my knots with masterful strokes that leave me feeling revived and limp at the same time. Later, I refresh in the sheltered outdoor rain shower with a coconut-milk shower gel before padding in bare feet back to my bungalow to sip fresh papaya juice. In transit, I pause on the over-water walkway to watch a school of black, white and silver fish glide by, and I have to wonder how I got so lucky—and how I can make it last forever.—First published in FASHION Magazine, Nov.2010
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