Tahitian over-water bungalows

By | Category: Travel destinations

So set in our minds is the over-water bungalow in the south Pacific islands of Tahiti that it seems really hard to believe that the idea is just fifty years’ old.

Go back to the James A Michener novel. Tales of the South Pacific, the musical made from it called South Pacific and the old television series based on his works – Adventures in Paradise – and the over-water bungalow didn’t exist.

In fact it wasn’t even part of Tahitian life. It was developed by three Americans, Hugh Kelley, Muk McCallum and Jay Carlisle who were known as the “Bali Hai Boys (probably after the song from South Pacific) and had fallen in love with French Polynesia and all that it had to offer.

They opened hotels on both Moorea and Raiatea. Moorea was doing well due to its stunning location, beautiful beach and great snorkelling, However, Raiatea had no sandy beach. In search of a solution, Kelley had an idea that would revolutionise the country’s tourism for decades to come. He suggested building the bungalows over the water, in order to give guests direct access to the lagoon.  Kelley thought it would be unique to be able to look through part of the floor into the lagoon, and the glass-bottom floor was born.

Fifty years ago the first three over-water bungalows were ready for visitors. Today there are 884 spread across 22 hotels on seven islands

Originally built as traditional stilted homes, allowing guests to admire the tropical fish swimming below glass-floor panels – fondly referred to as Tahiti TV-, over the past five decades, some of the bungalows today have evolved into palatial suites offering the amenities of a first-class hotel room. Boasting private terraces, infinity pools, hammocks, spa baths, signature glass floors, and breakfast delivered by outrigger canoe these iconic designs paved the way for modern luxurious accommodation, all the while staying true to local Polynesian culture.

“For many travellers looking for the perfect South Pacific escape, staying in an over-water bungalow is a can’t miss experience. says Mr Paul Sloan, CEO of Tahiti Tourisme.

For more information on Tahiti go to www.tahiti-tourisme.co.uk

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