Travel Leisure

Where Was ‘Couples Retreat’ Filmed? How the Tropical Paradise Came to Life

“Couple’s Retreat” is a 2009 romantic comedy film that follows the lives of four different couples. After reaching a crossroads in their various relationships, the couples go on a vacation that is set in a luxurious paradise. The Paradise is an all-inclusive couple’s retreat that has many surprises in store for troubled couples. The movie stars acclaimed actors and actresses like Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Ken Jeong, Kristen Bell, and Tasha Smith, who are all known for their comedic chops, so viewers are in for a treat. The film’s exceptional (and sometimes satirical) retreat may even inspire travelers who want to travel to similar destinations. 

The setting of the retreat is jaw-droppingly stunning, and the relaxing environment along with high-quality service even compels the couples to remain in questionable (and hilarious) situations. With overwater bungalows, a no-tipping policy, glass-bottom accommodations, an indulgent maître d’, private pools, and all-you-can-eat restaurants, the movie resort offers a five-star quality stay to its guests. These offerings set the scene for some hilarious relational breakthroughs that occur during the couples’ stay on the island.

So, it is no surprise that viewers of the movie are curious about the real-life destination where the resort scenes were filmed. Let’s dive in. 

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is the main filming location of the movie "Couples Retreat" due to its striking views. pictured: Bora Bora overwater bungalowa

The primary filming location for “Couples Retreat” is the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. The resort is referred to as “Eden” in the film and resembles its namesake as a paradise on Earth. The resort brings a sort of bliss over the characters that stay on the island and can even be a paradise for travelers in real life. The St. Regis has the largest overwater bungalows in all of French Polynesia and the South Pacific. Guests of the resort can view the beautiful turquoise waters of Bora Bora from glass panel floors in many of the rooms. With 24-hour butler service, a Lagoonarium and Polynesian-inspired cuisine, the resort has an array of offerings. This resort is the only Forbes 5-star resort in Bora Bora. 

Travelers who enjoy outdoor activities will thoroughly enjoy a trip to Bora Bora since it is private and spacious. Resort guests can paddle a kayak or canoe on the lagoon, take a dip by the pool or beach, and snorkel in the Lagoonarium all in one day. Guests also have access to complimentary fun like the tennis courts, communal bikes to ride around the grounds, and even a marine biology session at the Lagoonarium for couples who want to learn more about the fish.

Unlike the characters in the film (who only had access to the couples’ side of the island), visitors to the island have great opportunities to explore the entirety of Bora Bora. One of the most popular excursions to take is the island’s ATV tours, which can last about three hours and take guests on a journey throughout the jungle. While on it, they can explore the local flora and fauna of the famous Mont Popoti, which stands at 207 meters. Once the top of the mountain is reached, guests can observe the island with stunning 360-degree panoramic views, capturing the views of the paradise in all its glory.

Bora Bora is a picture-perfect getaway that makes visitors feel like they have walked into a screensaver with sweeping views of Mount Otemanu (the highest point of the island at 727 meters tall) and plenty of opportunities to keep active or unwind. In fact, overwater bungalows originated in Bora Bora, so it is the best destination for travelers who want to indulge in relaxing activities and experience a full-service luxury resort. 

It is no surprise that Bora Bora was selected as the primary filming destination for “Couples Retreat” due to the nearly perfect landscapes.

California – Universal Studios

California's studios are the setting of some of the "Couples Retreat" film. pictured: Universal Studios lot in Los Angleles

In the earlier plot of the movie, Dave (Vince Vaugh) and Ronnie (Malin Åkerman) visit a home goods store to choose materials for their house renovation. This store sequence was filmed entirely on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood. This lot is made up of many stages and backlots and provides the production team with a completely customizable space. By using generic and plain backgrounds before introducing the audience to the tropical paradise of Eden, the producers of the film created a comparison between the two realities, one stunning and the other … not so much.

Universal Studios is often a destination spot for tourists who come to Southern California for vacations. The studios offer tours of active movie and television sets, as well as other sets that are preserved for the tourist attraction. Along with set visits and guided tours, vacationers can visit the Universal CityWalk area to enjoy restaurants, shopping, and even catch a movie at the local theater.

Scenes depicting the resort’s lagoon and other night scenes that occurred near the end of the film were also set in California studios as well. Downey Studios was used to film these scenes because the St. Regis in Bora Bora does not have the waterfall or lagoon that producers wanted. Despite this, the tranquil waters and lush waterfall still made it seem as though the characters were at the Eden Resort. 


Surprisingly, Illinois is one of the film location of tropical paradise film "Couples Retreat". Check out where else the movie was made. Pictured: Illinois in the winter

A small portion of the filming was done in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. At the beginning of the film, Dave and Ronnie get into a heated discussion while dropping off their oldest of two boys to hockey practice. The streets are lined with picturesque and well-manicured homes. As the only representation of the nuclear family in the group of couples who go to the resort, the small town feel represents their family dynamic. By selecting a suburban town in the winter, the juxtaposition of the island paradise makes an even greater impact on the audience.

“Couples Retreat” is a fun comedy starring many of today’s big-name comedic stars. Perhaps more important to the movie is the role the resort plays as a co-star. The St. Regis Bora Bora resort is truly stunning and one destination not to be missed if traveling to the islands of French Polynesia.

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