My Transformational Travel Experience to Tahiti | Travel Research Online


My Transformational Travel Experience to Tahiti

I don’t normally share my travels with you as this is a newsletter about the business of selling travel, but I would be doing you an injustice not sharing this experience.

I have been fortunate to visit many places, but never had the overwhelming desire to go to Tahiti. So, when our good friend Sandy Stevens, vice president of sales for Paul Gauguin Cruises, invited my wife and me to join her and other travel advisers on a cruise this past January – I was less than enthusiastic at first.

Then, I remembered that Tahiti receives roughly the same number of visitors in a year that Hawaii gets in a week!

We flew into Papeete a few days early and took the 45 min ferry ride to Moorea. We had booked the Intercontinental; however, there was a worker strike, so they moved us to the Sofitel at no extra cost.

Wow, what a first impression! Moorea was beautiful, to say the least. But even more so were the people. They were the warmest, most generous people I have ever encountered. This is engrained in their culture. No wonder Marlon Brando fell in love and lived in Tahiti.

Our over the water bungalow was far enough away from the main building that we had no internet and the tv was French, with only one English speaking channel (Fox News). So, my wife and I had to do the unthinkable – we talked to each other 😉. We have not felt this relaxed and disconnected in many years. It was wonderful.

After the ferry ride back to Papeete, we boarded the Paul Gauguin. Now I have been on hundreds of ships, but this 22-year-old vessel looked like she just came out of the shipyard. She is in spectacular condition. We paid for a butler suite (hey, if you are gonna go – go big!) The suites are not large by contemporary standards, but very well appointed, and the staff – well they were just incredible.

If you want to see the islands, in my opinion, it is best done by ship. They are served year-round by Windstar and Paul Gauguin, both of which provide unique experiences. They are also served seasonally by other lines – typically as a segment of their world cruise.

So why by-ship versus a week in Bora Bora or at the Brando. I am a fan of sampling a destination first, before committing to a week or more someplace that I may not end up enjoying- but that’s me.

Paul Gauguin spends two full days in Moorea and Bora Bora and full days at the other islands on the itinerary. For most of the islands we visited, this is plenty of time to see and experience everything we wanted.

The Tahiti you get is everything you imagine from the photographs in the travel magazines and more. For me, it was an unexpected transformational experience.


Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor and best-selling author. His training and consulting firm helps develop sales focused business leaders and entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism industry.

His book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on For information on the Wealthy Travel Agent Academy’s business transformation programs, visit:


Get Your SHIP Together, will soon be available as an audiobook on

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