The overwater bungalow – that iconic pitch of a paradisiacal pleasant vacation, station in transparent blue H2O on stilt legs – turns a large five-oh this year. The thatched huts, mostly given with such oppulance amenities as thrust pools and potion floors to improved see a fish below, are a tack on a bucket lists and Pinterest play of aspirational travelers a universe over. Yet their start lies in a surprisingly boring practice in problem-solving.
Back in a ’60s, 3 tanned, party-hearty California kids – Hugh Kelley, Don “Muk” McCallum and Jay Carlisle – left their 9-to-5s in office of their pleasant dreams in French Polynesia. Opening hotels on Moorea and Raiatea, a contingent was dubbed a Bali Hai Boys, after a visionary island in James Michener’s novel “South Pacific.”
Carlisle, now in his 70s, reminisces about those days:
“Our Hotel Bali Hai on Moorea thrived with a beachfront property, nonetheless Hotel Bora Bora on Raiatea struggled,” he says. “It didn’t have any beaches.” A critical problem, indeed. “Inspired by a vernacular thatched-roof fishing huts,” he goes on, “Kelley subsequent a thought of building bungalows on petrify stilts out on a bay, providing approach entrance to a lagoon. We drilled down by hand; there were no electric drills or anything. We did all of a work.” That was in 1967.
The contingent positive a supervision that a pretentious bungalows wouldn’t repairs a environment. “We built tiny docks that extended out into a prosaic place in a firth and trustworthy them to pylons, ” Carlisle said, “The coral grows around a pylons and attracts a fish.”
They built 3 bungalows “with Plexiglas on a vital room building so we could see a embankment below.” That underline shortly became famous as “Tahitian TV,” a must-have in any overwater bungalow.
People favourite a bungalows, so a Bali Hai Boys built 6 more. And afterwards another three. Then other hotels in a segment started duplicating them. Even nonetheless a originals were never luxe, they lighted a series in posh hotel architecture, and French Polynesia became synonymous with pleasant glamour.
Today, with a other men’s children, Carlisle oversees a Club Bali Hai Moorea Hotel, a smallest and final of their properties. (McCallum now lives on a U.S. mainland, and Kelley died in 1998.) The hotel stays utterly rustic, and Carlisle insists that he has no skeleton to change that.
Royal Caribbean and a El Dorado Maroma in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Both are luxurious, charity forever pools, outside showers, two-person Jacuzzis and, of course, a glass-floored vital room to perspective a pleasant fish. The categorical difference, Wade is discerning to add, is that while these new Caribbean bungalows are set in really transparent bays, their waters don’t review with a bright lagoons of a South Pacific or a Maldives.
Other destinations have what Wade describes as “eco-resorts” that take a overwater judgment to rivers and lakes. You’ll find them in Guatemala, Panama, even Honduras. “They’re not utterly a same,” Wade says. Meaning, they don’t have a beautiful, transparent waters that make a South Pacific bungalows so alluring. Nevertheless, they offer a sublimity of being dangling overwater.
According to Wade, a direct for overwater bungalows shows no signs of diminishing. “Resorts have popped adult in Qatar,” he says, “even Africa has a couple, in Kenya and Mozambique.”
There aren’t any in a United States – yet. In a meantime, with a 50th anniversary in full swing, including special anniversary packages being charity by hotels around a world, Carlisle admits that a Club Bali Hai Moorea Hotel is not observant a occasion.
“I didn’t even know about a anniversary,” he says. “I theory we’re not doing anything special.”
No need. They did that 50 years ago.
If You Go:
Where to Stay
– Club Bali Hai Moorea Hotel
BP 8, Maharepa, Moorea 98728, French Polynesia
The Club Bali Hai Moorea is a Bali Hai Boys’ fourth hotel, dating to 1982, and a usually one still remaining in their island empire. It’s really rustic, even a small dated, nonetheless that’s a approach Jay Carlisle, who still oversees a operations, likes it. The overwater bungalows here are a slightest costly in a South Pacific. Rooms from $260 per night.
– Four Seasons Bora Bora
BP 547, Motu Tehotu 98730, French Polynesia
The summary of honeymoon happiness, these lush bungalows embody plasma TVs, WiFi, marble bathrooms and jaw-dropping vistas of a gin-clear firth or Mount Otemanu. Some have a private thrust pool and potion building panels charity aquarium-like views of pleasant fish. The 50th anniversary package, including $2,200 in review credit on stays of 6 or some-more nights and a “make your possess mai tai” kit,” is current by a finish of a year. From $855 per night.
– Sandals Royal Caribbean
Mahoe Bay, Montego Bay, Jamaica