1.20.2015

Le Taha'a Island Resort | casual luxury in Polynesia


view from a Beach Bungalow at Le Taha'a Resort (c) 2014 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

When I picture the perfect beach resort, the black and white photo above pretty much says it all for me. Sand and sea, a hammock hanging underneath shady palm trees, a clear view of the horizon, and a few overwater bungalows to lend perspective to the view.

I had the pleasure of visiting Le Taha'a Island Resort one morning during our Paul Gauguin cruise of French Polynesia's Society Islands. Le Taha'a is the perfect resort if you're seeking totally casual luxury, a sand-between-your-toes kind of existence where you just lay back, relax, and enjoy. This is a place I'd love to spend a week.

Fans of the former Kona Beach Resort (on the Big Island), or the Napili Kai resort (on Maui) will know exactly what I'm talking about. With just 60 suites, Le Taha'a is situated underneath the palm trees on a sandy knoll of land jutting out into the sea. While Four Seasons Bora Bora has a manicured elegance, Le Taha'a is laid back and casual. A wonderful spa takes advantage of a wholly natural setting, and you'll enjoy the great food you'd expect from a Relais & Chateaux resort.

No crowds whatsoever and no other resorts in sight, Le Taha'a is a place to go snorkeling and enjoy life in your own overwater bungalow. But if you want to take the path even less travelled, stay in one of the resort's Beach Bungalows — spacious suites with private plunge pools and a backyard that's exactly like the picture above.

Your Virtuoso travel consultant can provide you with valuable amenities (daily buffet breakfast, 75€ spa credit, a cocktail voucher, and an upgrade if available) in conjunction with some great promotions available for longer stays.

Special promotion just announced — stay 5 nights and save 50% on all room categories except the overwater suites. Includes breakfast for two daily. Travel dates: 1APR-30JUN, 1OCT-31MAR of 2016. A great reason to stay in a Beach Bungalow!!!

copyright (c) 2015 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

1.14.2015

got the polar vortex blues?

a clever ad from Cap Juluca, Virtuoso luxury beach resort in Anguilla

The weather outside is dreadful in so many parts of the country, with the polar vortex bringing arctic temperatures to the midwest and east coast of the United States and Canada. There is an alternative to suffering the cold and damp of winter ... a warm, sunny tropical beach somewhere south!

Cap Juluca created the clever ad at the top of this article. "Exchange white snow for white sand" was the subject of their email blast, and I share the sentiment. Cap Juluca is a tropical resort in the British West Indies on the island of Anguilla, named #1 Best Beach Resort Worldwide by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report 2013. One of dozens of Virtuoso luxury resorts in the Caribbean, guests booking through a Virtuoso travel consultant receive complimentary extras — daily breakfast for two, a $100 resort credit, and an upgrade if available when you check-in.

So whether your travel dreams take you to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Hawaii, ask your Virtuoso travel advisor for some winter vacation ideas... and beat the polar vortex blues! We can provide you with great money-saving amenities at virtually any luxury resort you'd like to visit.

copyright (c) 2015 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

1.08.2015

Bora Bora | overwater honeymoon bungalows

view from the beach at FS Bora Bora  — (c) 2015 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Where to stay in Bora Bora? I've enjoyed two different visits to this idyllic atoll with its incredible blue-green water, and while there's a resort for most every budget, here are my impressions of the three resorts I visited during my December trip to Bora Bora.


Four Seasons Bora Bora is by far the resort I am most frequently asked about, so I was glad to be able to spend a day last December. Only 5 years old, the resort is beautiful and will only become more impressive as the extensive landscaping matures. FS Bora Bora has a warm, informal elegance with a contemporary Polynesian feel.

There are 100 overwater bungalows and 7 beach bungalows. The OWB we were shown was spacious with separate bedroom and living room.  Rooms are decorated using natural light woods on the walls, darker wood floors, and bamboo ceilings. Connecting bungalows are available for families.

But the best part was the beach — large and uncrowded — and you can swim and snorkel in the various inlets and the coral garden. We spent the afternoon between the beach and the spa — heaven!

Other features are an impressive spa, complimentary laundry facilities, free programs for children and teens, and a wonderful Relaxation Room that guests can use if their bungalow is not ready in the early morning when their flight arrives.

Book through a Four Seasons Preferred Partner to get even more value for the same price!


InterContinental Thalasso is a five star "trendy" option on Bora Bora (with a bar designed by Philippe Starke). Public buildings are constructed with coral rock, providing a sense of place, and natural woods are used extensively in the interiors. The spacious guest rooms have a contemporary feel with a cool color scheme using quiet, subtle shades of blue and grey. The best part of the design: your bed directly faces a floor-to-ceiling glass window with a dramatic view of Bora Bora's incredible lagoon. Book an Otemanu Diamond room for the most breathtaking views when you wake up each morning.

Why consider IC Thalasso? The top reason is the spa! The Thalasso Spa uses sea water for treatments, and if you book a treatment, you get the use of the innovative spa facilities for the entire day. (Or you can buy a day pass, but a treatment is just slightly more).

The food is wonderful (we enjoyed our lunch), and prebook one of the 14 tables at Corail, Thalasso's new signature restaurant with Michelin-starred chef.


InterContinental Moana is a good choice for price conscious honeymooners on a four star budget. IC Moana is an intimate four star resort with a family ambiance and a traditional Polynesian feel, more relaxed and "comfortable" than Thalasso's "trendy" styling. It is located on Bora Bora's central motu, great if you'd like to explore the island and eat dinner at Bloody Mary's or the exquisite La Villa Mahana.

Just 50 overwater bungalows and 12 beach bungalows, each is 36 square meters in size. Rooms are very pleasant with rattan walls and bamboo ceiling beams. Bathrooms have an open-air shower that may appeal to some! A sliding door can close between the living room and dining room, and the sofabed can accommodate one child in an OWB or two children in the beach bungalows.

copyright (c) 2015 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

12.30.2014

5 reasons to cruise on the Paul Gauguin

view of Bora Bora one morning aboard the MS Paul Gauguin

Is a Paul Gauguin cruise in your future? This was our second visit to French Polynesia — and also our first time ever on a cruise ship. Here are five reasons you might want to consider a cruise on the MS Paul Gauguin for your honeymoon or anniversary trip to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, and French Polynesia.

1. You pack and unpack just once. No living out of a suitcase as you visit from island to island.

2. Your logistics are taken care of. Cruising is the easiest way to get from island to island without having to deal with airports and ferry terminals. From your arrival in Tahiti to your departure, someone else is dealing with all of the hassles.

3. Control over costs. Most everything is included on the Paul Gauguin — your cabin, all of your meals, cocktails and wines at meals, even gratuities. Shore excursions, spa treatments, and premium wines are extra.

4. Meeting fellow travelers. You're onboard with 300 or so fellow passengers who, like you, love to travel. It's easy to meet people, start conversations, and make friends.

5. Access to quality tours at every port. Paul Gauguin will offer excursions at every port, or you can arrange your own.

Voyager Club amenities. On some Paul Gauguin cruises, you benefit from Virtuoso's Voyager Club amenities — a $150 shipboard credit or $175 towards the purchase of other Virtuoso products in connection with your cruise. Just book through your Virtuoso travel consultant, or email Sarah@ourismantravel.com for immediate personal attention.


copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

12.25.2014

Donald Trump | 4 Virtuoso hotels



I had the Christmas Eve buffet last night at Mar-a-Lago Club, the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post that Donald Trump has transformed into an incredible Palm Beach club, and had the opportunity to meet the iconic Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump is a unique individual; there is nobody else in the world whose name graces four Virtuoso hotels. As a Virtuoso travel consultant (whose job it is to sell his hotels), I reasoned that we were business partners and that he would agree to have his picture taken with me. I think he rather admired my chutzpah!

As with any Virtuoso hotel, you receive a significant value-add when you book through any Virtuoso travel agent (at no additional cost to yourself). Here's the deal with the four Trump hotels and why you should consider them for your next stays.

Trump SoHo, New York City
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests via room service
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay

Trump International, Chicago
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Resort or Hotel credit, to be utilized during stay
  • Additional Seasonal Welcome Amenity for Virtuoso Guests
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability

Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, (County Clare, Ireland)
the former Lodge at Doonbeg
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests at restaurant
  • 75 euro Lunch Voucher for Darby's Restaurant
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability

Trump Turnberry, Scotland
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • A complimentary round of golf for two on our Kintyre Course OR Afternoon Tea for two in our Grand Tea Lounge once per stay*
  • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
  • *PLEASE NOTE: This amenity is booked and confirmed at check-in and cannot be booked in advance during the reservation stage

Donald Trump is all about the art of the deal, and here's your chance to get the best deal from his association with Virtuoso!


copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. As affiliates of Brownell Travel, we can provide our clients with Virtuoso amenities and amenities from other Brownell preferred hotel partners including Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and more. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

12.21.2014

Mt. Mouaroa, Moorea

Mt. Mouroa, Moorea (c) 2014 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Just back from my Paul Gauguin cruise around the Society Islands of French Polynesia, so I'll begin with this shot from the last day of my trip. Our group enjoyed a 4x4 excursion around the island, viewing some of the spectacular scenery — Moorea's jagged mountain peaks and panoramic views of Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay from high above the sea. It was a misty and sometimes rainy December day, but the weather made the scenery even more dramatic. See above my picture of Mt. Mouroa taken from a pineapple field.

Moorea is a destination for adventure travelers, and the especially daring can take these tours on an individual ATV for a thrill-filled outing. Other activities include snorkeling or SCUBA diving over reefs abundant with colorful coral and tropical fish.

Also great for a romantic holiday, Moorea has overwater bungalows and white sand beaches. Contact me if you'd like specific resort information or would like to plan a complete honeymoon package.

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

12.13.2014

Christmas at FS Maui, anyone?



A 2 Bedroom Oceanfront Suite at Four Seasons Maui just became available overnight for Festive Season.

Dates of stay: December 24 - January 1

Terms of reservation: Nightly rate is $6100 + tax. Full deposit taken at booking, and the reservation is non-refundable.

Preferred Partner amenities
  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
  • Food and beverage credit of USD100
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas)
  • Now standard at all properties: Complimentary basic Internet (up to 2 devices) in all guest rooms, complimentary premium Internet (up to 4 devices) in all suite
How to book. This will not stay available for long. Call my office immediately (510.647.8444) or phone the resort directly at 800.334.6284. Mention that your travel agent is David from Brownell Travel so that you can receive the Preferred Partner amenities.

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.