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What does a Tahiti vacation or honeymoon cost?


St Regis 1

It’s rare for a day to go by without being asked “what does a trip to Tahiti cost?” and while I would be a very popular travel agent offering a Tahiti vacation for $1500 or overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for $2000 it won’t be happening soon… or maybe ever… But there are lots of ads that make Tahiti appear affordable so let’s look at the individual components and get down to the bottom line of what a vacation in Tahiti really costs!

Getting to Tahiti – There is only one international airport serving the group of islands referred to as Tahiti or more properly the Society Islands of French Polynesia, and that is Papeete (PPT). To reach Papeete Tahiti from the United States all flights connect through Los Angeles (LAX) or Honolulu (HNL). However only LAX has daily service and offers the flexibility needed by most vacation and honeymoon travelers. Honolulu has only one flight a week each direction and the flight times do not easily connect with other U.S. cities without a stopover. And while a stopover in Hawaii is always an option, it is rarely an effective strategy to reduce the cost of a vacation in Tahiti.

There have been occasional exceptions over the years, but a normal fare between Los Angeles and Tahiti starts around $1200 per person and during the high season, May through October, $14-1800 per person is more common. To that you would add the cost to reach LAX.

Getting around Tahiti – Once you reach Papeete you’ve got a bit farther to go before you’ll find the Tahiti of your dreams with white sand beaches, turquoise water and fabulous snorkeling because Papeete is a busy international gateway and can be crowded, congested and noisy. So a typical Tahiti vacation budget must also include local and interisland transportation. These options range from a 35 minute ferry or 10 minute flight to Moorea, one hour flight to Bora Bora and other outer islands, or even a Paul Gauguin or Windstar cruise departing from Papeete. Regardless you will spend money getting to the other islands.

So let’s assume Moorea as the least expensive dream satisfying island destination in Tahiti and work out those costs. A roundtrip ferry ticket is about $35 per person plus the cost of a cabs from airport to ferry and ferry to resort. Assuming two people traveling by cab I’d plan about $100 roundtrip.

Le Truck and the local bus would be less, as little as $15, but you’ll need extra time, be careful of travel times and dates, and be willing to walk with luggage.

A flight to Moorea is around $100 per person roundtrip but you eliminate $50 in cab rides so not a big difference compared to the total cost of taking the ferry. So unless every dollar matters, I tell my clients to fly to Moorea if they arrive in PPT early morning and take the ferry if there is a forced overnight.

Getting to Bora Bora and the outer islands – An interisland flight from Papeete or Moorea to the magical island of Bora Bora is about $400 per person roundtrip in the off season and closer to $500 during high season. Flights to other islands such as Rangiroa, Tikehau and Huahine are about the same, but if you have the time and budget for more extensive island hopping a pass is the way to go and will reduce costs somewhat.

So an average honeymoon couple traveling in the summer months will spend more than $4K getting from Los Angeles to Bora Bora and back. More if they’d like to stay on two outer islands. Then we need a roof over their heads, hopefully in an overwater bungalow, and enough food to keep love alive . Thank goodness the sunsets are free!

Accommodations – Here we have more variables so I won’t be able to address every option, but assuming you prefer a bungalow over a hotel room and wish the amenities of a 4 or 5 star resort the following general statements should apply.

Most resorts in Tahiti offer an enticement such as free nights or free meals with longer stays so your best value is often 3+ nights on Moorea and 4+ nights on Bora Bora or another outer island. Resorts that have more than one location in French Polynesia may also offer combination rates. So if you stay at the Moorea Pearl and Bora Bora Pearl Resorts you may get a better deal. The challenge here is that the best resort on one island may not be the best on another, so value will be in the eye of the beholder.

Garden bungalows are less costly than beach bungalows and overwater bungalows without a view are less than those with a Mt Otemanu view. Pretty much everyone averages $600 or more per night even with the best deals if they include Bora Bora or another outer island.

Dining in Tahiti – The food is excellent but expensive in the Tahitian islands and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re a light eater (I am), vegan or carnivore. Everything is flown in except the fish from the sea and those wonderful French chefs that work their magic with sauces and desserts don’t come cheap either. Most will spend $125 or more per person for two meals a day and my best advice to economize is to eat a hearty breakfast, skip lunch and enjoy an early dinner just after sunset.

It is possible to bring unopened sealed foods (e.g. granola bars) into the country to tide you over between meals or satisfy a snack attack but the idea of stopping at a market and picking up groceries isn’t a practical option for most. You can however pick up some local rum at a fraction of the price the resort’s charge for a cocktail. Which reminds me, there are no all inclusive resorts in Tahiti but meal plans are available at almost every resort.

So what’s it going to cost? There are lots of variables but here’s a quick bottom line to know if a Tahiti honeymoon or vacation is within your budget -

With air from Los Angeles traveling during high season, 3 nights on Moorea, 4 nights in an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora, breakfast and dinner daily and transfers the total will be $8-10K for two using the best available specials at 4 star resorts. If you want to spend less we can look at off season travel, shorten the stay, give up the overwater bungalow or give up Bora Bora.

Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora are expensive but the destination provides a once in a lifetime fantasy experience and is worth every penny. Please give me a call or shoot me an email with your vacation wish list. I’m here to help, have decades of experience finding the best value, guarantee the lowest price on all Tahiti and Fiji vacation packages and am happy to suggest other unique and special options if the cost of a Tahiti vacation is too high. Mauruuru!

 

Summer specials at one of Fiji island’s best adult only resorts – Qamea


Wow! This doesn’t happen very often… Qamea Resort and Spa in Fiji is offering two free nights during the high season summer months. So you can stay 7 nights and pay for 5  through October when the weather is at it’s absolute best and couples need a way to stretch their budget for a last minute adult only inclusive honeymoon in the romantic and idyllic Fiji Islands.

In addition to free nights you can choose either a free scuba package or free massage package daily and the resort is picking up the tab for one of the interisland flights between from Nadi to Taveuni. Qamea offers room only rates and a meal inclusive  package which is the better value and honeymooners will receive a bottle  of French champagne and 30 minute massage with a one week package.

Air Pacific airfares are also lower than normal for summer travel because the airline is changing its name to Air Fiji and expanding service from 4 days a week to daily service with delivery of several brand new Boeing airplanes with in flight upgrades and amenities. Check out the current Qamea special and call or email me for  more South Pacific packages and suggestions. I visit Tahiti and Fiji regularly and am here to help!

A pick for best adult only resort in Fiji – Likuliku Lagoon Resort


 

Likuliku

Click for slide show

 

In celebration of an imminent reopening I wanted to review one of Fiji’s best resorts, the beautiful, luxurious and immensely popular Likuliku Lagoon Resort. So with all the wonderful resorts in Fiji what makes Likuliku Resort one of the best?

1. Exceptional accommodations with the Fiji Island’s only overwater bungalows. Plus my favorite deluxe beachfront bures with private pool and gorgeous ocean views. Amenities include a comfy king bed, luxurious bathroom with indoor and outdoor garden shower and Pure Fiji bath products, freshly baked cookies and mini fridge with beverages near the living area, generously sized beach bed on a wrap around furnished porch and more. All just steps from the sand and water’s edge… paradise!

 

2. Gourmet dining that will delight every foodie’s heart and stomach with breakfast, lunch and 5 course French inspired Polynesian influenced dinners included in the room rate. An extensive wine list adds to the experience and many guests linger for hours at their candlelit table with quiet music from handmade Fijian instruments playing softly in the background .

 

3. Ultra romantic adult only ambiance with private nooks and crannies near the beautiful 2 level horizon edge pool, flower strewn pathways, flickering Tiki torchesan

 

4. Sunsets and a very special place to enjoy them with toes in the sand and favorite beverage in hand at the sunset bar on the pier.

 

5. Watersports and activities with snorkeling, kayaks, sailboats and more free of charge. Guests can arrange a private sand spit picnic, island hop and visit Tom Hank’s Castaway, rent jet skis or go deep sea fishing. It’s all available and nearby.

 

All these features are important and add to an amazing vacation experience but what truly sets Fiji apart from Tahiti, Bora Bora, the Cook Islands, Caribbean and other tropical destinations are the Fijian people. And the staff at Likuliku  is incredible. From the first warm welcome to the flowers petals on your bed and traditional good bye song as you leave this island  paradise you will be treated like royalty. So plan some time to get away from it all and put Fiji on your honeymoon or anniversary wish list. It is a magical place you will never forget!

Vacation planning events for Tahiti, Fiji, Sandals Resorts & Australia


Sandals Grande Antigua Dickenson Bay Beach

Totem Travel is hosting free honeymoon and vacation planning events for Tahiti, Fiji and the South Pacific islands; Sandals adult only all inclusive resorts located on five islands (soon to be six) in the Caribbean; and Australia – The Land Down Under. Dates and details follow.

  • Feb 23, 2013
    Tahiti and Fiji – The South Pacific Islands
    Kirkland
    12-2p Saturday
  • March 2, 2013
    Sandals Resorts – Honeymoon Planning Event
    Meet Me Conference Call
    12 – 1 pm Saturday
    Receive a $250 spa credit in addition to available discounts and promotions on qualified bookings
  • March 15, 2013
    Australia – The Land Down Under
    Kirkland
    12-2 pm Saturday

Please call or email linda@totemtravel.com for additional information and to RSVP. In the Seattle area you can reach Totem Travel at (425) 821-4100 or toll free (800) 321-7907. We hope to see you soon!

Updates at Royal Davui Island – Fiji



Click here for more photos of Royal Davui – Fiji

Royal Davui is one of our favorite private island resorts in Fiji. The island resort is all about romance, luxury, gorgeous architecturally designed private vales (villas) with plunge pools and quiet island life in the Fijian islands. Royal Davui is the perfect locations for a special anniversary, honeymoon or much needed escape if your budget allows.

As one of the top agencies selling Fiji in the United States, we are often visited by the remote island owners and managers whom we have strong professional relationship with. It’s great to see them every year so we can give them our client feedback on their resort and see what is new on their island. Chris Southwick from Royal Davui recently stopped by and had some exciting news!

The Deluxe Vales now have heated plunge pools, so both Deluxe and Premium Vales have the heated pools. This leaves the only difference, size of vale (the Premium Vales are a little bigger) and the Premium Vales have the sunset view.

Royal Davui has created a new “Love Shack” on the island which can be reserved for any couple wanting a private area with open air daybed nestled into the hillside with a wonderful view of the sea.

Finally, the last bit of big news from Royal Davui is that the ever popular “Sand Spit Picnic” can now be pre-booked as part of a romance package with spa treatments and sulus. There are only two times of year that the Sand Spit cannot be accessed, but now you can be assured of getting to experience this wonderful, private and romantic escape during your stay.

We have two Fiji Matai Specialists in the office so just give either Linda or Patty a call at 1-800-321-7907. Or you can email Linda at linda@totemtravel.com for more information about Royal Davui and other Fijian Island Resorts. You can also view our blogs, reviews and sample packages on our website at www.totemtravel.com We are happy to help you discover the magic of this fabulous destination.

Where To Zipline On Your Vacation


For most people on vacation, a white sand beach and crystal blue water isn’t the only thing on their wish list. Add to that list, fancy pools with swim up bars, good food, cultural experiences and fun activities to nearby. One of the more popular activities that clients always ask me about is ziplining.

Where in the Caribbean, Mexico or the world can you Zipline? Well, there are many fantastic destinations that have ziplines available nearby. Let’s start with Mexico. You can zipline in Puerto Vallarta which is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The Ziplines in Puerto Vallarta are located up in the hillside jungle and lots of fun. On the Caribbean side of Mexico, a fun spot to Zip Line is on Isla Mujeres where you can zipline over the ocean at Garrafon Park. There are also many spots to zipline south of Cancun if you are staying in the Playa Del Carmen or Tulum area. Combine a nice all inclusive family vacation at a resort like the Iberostar Quetzal with a zipline/Mayan ruin excursion and you will have great memories to last a lifetime.

Heading south of the Yucatan into the countries of Belize and Costa Rica you can zipline in Belize from resorts located in the interior area of the Cayo District. Or in Costa Rica activities like ziplining can be found in the Arenal area where there are some amazing resorts with gorgeous views of the Arenal Volcano. Be sure to travel sometime between November and April when the weather is at its best!

The Caribbean is full of islands with zip lines and some of the more popular islands for honeymoons that have zip lines are Jamaica, St. Lucia and Antigua just to name a few. Combine a nice honeymoon stay at one of the many romantic Sandals Resorts with a fun zipline tour and you will have the perfect honeymoon. In Jamaica, you can zipline at Mystic Mountain in the Ocho Rios area. In St. Lucia you have Treetop Adventures or in Antigua, the very popular 12 ziplines and rope bridge. You can find the cost of ziplining in the Caribbean on the website for Island Routes.

The Fijian Islands are quickly becoming a favorite destination for honeymooners and families who want to avoid hurricane season in the northern hemisphere. May through October is the best time to travel to the South Pacific and yes, you can zip line in Fiji! :)

The adventurous can also zipline in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Or you can do the famous “bridge climb” in Sydney. These are just some of the most popular destinations where you can zipline, but there are still more. Let us know if you need help with your trip planning and don’t forget to ask us about ziplines! We have three destination specialists in our office, so just indicate what part of the world you are interested in by filling out a request a quote form on our website and we’ll get back to you!

 

Tips On How To Pick The Best Spot For A Destination Wedding


Destination Weddings are on the rise and becoming more and more popular. Many couples just want to skip all the detailed planning at home and have a wedding consultant at a beautiful resort in a romantic location do all the work for them. I can’t say I blame them and destination weddings can take the stress out of wedding planning!

As a travel agent who has helped plan a lot of destination weddings throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and places like Fiji, there are several important factors to consider when selecting the perfect spot for your destination wedding.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want/expect your family and friends to be a part of this special occasion. If the answer is yes, then you absolutely have to not just pick a destination and resort based on YOUR budget, but you should consider your guests and what you would expect YOUR GUESTS to be able to afford. Do any of your prospective guests have children? If so, then you will want to consider a family resort rather than an “adult only” or “couples only” resort like Sandals or Couples Resorts where often a destination wedding can be free even if no guests stay at the resort.  Along the lines of budget, you need to consider which cities most of your guests will be flying out of and look at how expensive airfare is to your destination of choice. The easier and more affordable you make it for friends and family to attend, the more will!! If you want to have a smaller and more private ceremony, then somewhere like the Fijian Islands is a fabulous choice providing you pick the correct time of year for weather.

Other factors to consider are the requirements in each destination for getting married there. Some destinations require 4 or 5 days residency before you can be legally married and they usually do not count the day you arrive, weekends or holidays. So if you have a limited timeframe, then you might consider somewhere like Jamaica where 48 hours is required and the day you arrive counts. Other factors to consider are requirements like blood tests (Mexico) and translation of wedding documentation in countries like Dominican Republic.

When I work with couples planning a destination wedding, I usually go through these factors right off the bat so we can eliminate spots that won’t work and get right to the best options that fit what the couple is looking for. Budget and time of year you want to get married are some of the other things that play a large role in finding the best spot for a destination wedding. We have three Royal Chairman’s Club Sandals Specialist in the office and we each have planned many destination weddings all over the world from Tahiti and Fiji to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. Give us a call if you need help picking the best spot for your destination wedding. We are happy to help take the stress out of the planning any way we can. You can reach us at www.totemtravel.com or call 1-800-321-7907 and ask for Patty, Sandi or Linda.

Qamea Resort in Fiji is all inclusive with upgraded bures & surfing!



Click for slide show of Qamea Resort in Fiji

Qamea, one of my all time favorite resorts in Fiji, has enhanced an already outstanding experience with its new all inclusive format, resort renovations, upgraded bures and expanded activities.

Qamea has always included meals in the room rate but for those wishing an all inclusive vacation in Fiji Qamea now includes a lovely selection of wines, domestic beer and soft drinks by the glass between noon and 10 p.m. Non motorized watersports and many activities are also included in the room rate and for a limited time, airfare is on sale.  So if your travel dates fit and everything is available a complete package starts around $7.5K  total for two for a 7 night stay with airfare from Los Angeles.

Other recent enhancements at Qamea include

  • Upgraded bathrooms in all Beachfront Bures with rock wall and stone basins in addition to the lovely and popular outdoor showers.
  • A new jacuzzi at the main pool.
  • Full size jacuzzis in both Honeymoon Bures in place of jetted tubs.
  • A surf pro on site November through March with 3 breaks within 15 minutes of the resort which can  accommodate beginners as well as those more experienced with surfing.

Popular activities available year round include daily snorkel trips, an excellent scuba diving operation with 5 star PADI dive center, kayaking, sailing, beach volleyball and Fijian arts and crafts. And Qamea Island Resort and Spa offers the area’s easiest access to Taveuni Island’s most popular attractions – Buomo waterfall and national park and the pearl farm.

For information on Qamea vacation packages or assistance planning a honeymoon in Fiji, please contact Linda or Patty or Request a Quote from the Fiji vacation specialists at Totem Travel.

Beware of Fiji groupon deal and Tahiti online pricing


Since returning from Fiji a few days ago I’ve been asked if I can beat a number of deals including Groupon, Expedia and Kayak and in each case Totem Travel’s normal package pricing was lower than the perceived deal. This was good news for my clients that were up front enough to ask, but I suspect many bargain hunters simply assume that Groupon deals and online travel agencies are offering deep discounts when in reality they are charging more.

The one that troubled me most was the Online Travel Agency that offered the St Regis Bora Bora for $850 night or $853 night “including tax”.  As a Tahiti honeymoon specialist I know the real tax rate is 14% and that’s before all the other “extras” collected at check out, long after the reservation is made and way too late to make a different purchase decision.  The bottom line for my particular customer was an undisclosed $1011 for a 7 night stay.  Yikes!  Another was the groupon deal that encouraged clients to buy a package at Toberua, a lovely little island resort in Fiji, for $2079.  That deal excluded the 20% VAT tax while my everday price for the same Toberua Resort package is $1810 including tax so almost $700 less.

So BUYER BEWARE and do yourself and your travel agent a favor and work together in good faith. A good travel agent guarantees the lowest price on their packages (we do) but  can only deliver on that promise if there is open, honest communication.  A professional travel agent is on your side with the goal of finding best possible vacation experience at the lowest possible price. So go team and thanks to all my wonderful clients that understand the value of collaboration!

Review of Uprising Beach Resort,Fiji from a Totem Travel Client



Click here for a slideshow of Uprising Resort

Uprising Beach Resort recently added some fantastic Commodore Villa Bures located both on the beach and in the gardens.  These villas are spacious with big bathrooms and outdoor showers while retaining a authentic “Fijian” atmosphere.  The resort offers budget to moderate accommodations and is on one of the nicer beaches in the area.  Uprising Beach just might be the best value dollar for dollar in Fiji and because the resort is located in the Pacific Harbour area on the main island of Viti Levu, there are many off resort activities at your disposal in addition to activities on the water.  Here is what my family of four (2 adults and 2 teenage sons) wrote about their 7 night stay at the end of August 2011.

Patty,

It was a wonderful trip and Uprising was much much better than the reviews.  The bures were great and the one we stayed in very new and right on the beach.  The beach was very very nice sandy and could walk right in and still sand.  Some of the other beaches we went to very nice but rocky.  We walked to Pearl and there really is no comparison in fact a couple of folks from Pearl walked down the beach and saw Uprising and moved to it so that they could have Bures right on a beach.  We were in the newer bures and some folks preferred the older ones since more traditional but either way they are both nice.

The service was great and people were very nice.  The food was good and well priced.  It is low key since not a lot of bures but the boys still had fun especially since the “Experience Fiji” for 18-23 age folks goes through there every couple of days so interesting crowd from different places (Chicago, London, Ireland etc).  Also walking distance to different places.   We did the Kayak all day trip and the boat excursion to one of the islands and it was very nice.  We especially enjoyed the kayaking since included a village visit, waterfalls hike, water boat.  The village we went to at the time was hosting the monthly province meeting of chiefs so very interesting and lots of Chiefs/Kava all around.

The staff during the day tries to have entertainment like a big barbeque, another time coconut and historical uses of it presentation, live bands, bon fires, free catamaran trips so overall they make it interesting. 

We definitely would go back.  You were right the Fijians are very very nice people. 

Thank you for all your help in setting everything up.  Will be posting pictures soon.

-Nancy

At Totem Travel, we specialize in various destinations and we have two Fiji Matai Specialists in the office to help you find the best spot in Fiji for either the perfect family vacation or special occasion such as a honeymoon or anniversary vacation.  We travel to the islands every year and know them well.  Give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 and ask for either Patty or Linda.

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