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By Elina Fuhrman

I was stressed out, fed up and on the edge. I needed to get away, but not merely to unwind. I craved somewhere deserted, someplace where I could think deep “inside,” and that meant without any distractions. When I landed in Bora Bora, on a spontaneous trip across the Pacific, I knew at last I had found a place so special and so secluded not even a New Age guru could give me.

The fact the Le Meridien Bora Bora Resort was accessible only by boat, and surrounded by a stunning lagoon and the beautiful black lava boulders of Mount Otemanu, only added pizzazz to my quest for paradise. With its lush gardens, fragrant with Tiare flowers and rows of tall coconut palms, Le Meridien welcomed me to an intensely relaxing world where there are no clocks, few activities, and the only sounds are the water lapping against the bungalows, or the warm breeze rustling through the palm trees.

The place is a healing force unto itself, but it’s also magical and spiritual. Sure, it’s every bit as seductive as I imagined it, too, with those dreamy thatched-roof bungalows suspended over the turquoise waters of its embracing lagoon. But that wasn’t all. With an ever-changing kaleidoscope of brilliant blue hues in the sky and in the waters below my personal bungalow, I felt a calming, tension-releasing effect the moment I settled in.

Escape the blues with hues
During the day, the waters turn a different shade of blue. From the purest-aquamarine in the mid-day sun, through the sight of a brilliant-blue hummingbird’s wings, to a peacock’s feathers, to the palest blue of a baby’s eyes against white coral sands, through to the deep, inky midnight sky and star-lit reflections in the water at night– it was blue like nothing I ever experienced any place before.

Once Bora Bora’s powerful aura centers your soul, you have no resistance to relaxation. And once you’ve spent a day watching the light play on the water, you’ll start noticing how friendly everyone is here. From other guests to hotel staff to native islanders, including the turtles and fish that surround you, they share the same daily injection of pure joy. It was as though my eyes and my heart needed the spiritual re-adjustment I found here, deeply renewed and ready to discover my fellow creatures.

Nourishment for the soul
To nourish the soul, Le Meridien’s cuisine spans all tastes, but is aimed toward wellness and healthy living. With menus able to accommodate even my own, mostly vegan diet, I was thrilled by the variety of choices I had every meal: exotic fruits for breakfast, fresh-caught fish for lunch with organic veggies for dinner. In a place as healthy and wholesome as this, yes, you feel as though nothing can harm you, but Le Meridien honors your healthy choices with abundance.

What’s funny is my spa-seeking compass was not the least concerned that Le Meridien doesn’t sport a full-service spa, as might have been found in a place as blissful as this. The cosmic, core sincerity of the natural environment, dealt with the equal effortless comfort of my own over-the-water bungalow seems to cover the services that might otherwise have been offered by the best on-premises spa. Besides, if a massage is what you need, just call the front desk and— voila— a massage you will have.

Even better, I discovered something I’ll just call “turtle therapy.” The interior lagoon ofLe Meridien is actually a private marine sanctuary where guests can go through the rare and humbling experience of swimming with green sea turtles, some of which have arrived here, I realize, just like me, to recuperate and regroup before being returned to the wild.

The immersive sensation from so much beauty and tranquility is a strange thing. After days lying on the perfect beach, snorkeling a crystalline lagoon filled with sea life, watching magnificent sunsets, and plunging off my bungalow’s private deck whenever the urge hit me, one’s perspective shifts. Whatever I thought the world was before, magically all that mattered now was blue sky, white sand, peacock-blue water and swaying palm trees.

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Elina Fuhrman is an intrepid traveler based in Los Angeles. She grew up in Russia but knew before she was 10 years old that she would spend her life exploring the world. She is now a contributing editor to Travelgirl and JEZEBEL magazines. Her work has appeared on CNN, in The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Conde Nast Traveler, InStyle and other publications. Fuhrman’s photos often accompany her stories. To see more, visit her website

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Kristin Dillon

Kristin Dillon

Kristin Dillon is a Chicago-based editor with a serious thing for hotels. In addition to her ever-growing collection of books about hotels from around the world, she loves the show "Hotel Impossible," and once lived in a 14th century hotel in Florence, Italy.

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