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French Polynesia has been one of my dream destinations. The beautiful scenery of Tahiti and nearby islands, often depicted in travel magazines, world calendars, and TV ads, was something I had to experience for myself one day. That day finally came as my wife and I began our two-week journey September 20th of this year. This put us right in the middle of spring in the southern hemisphere, a perfect time to go. We visited three Tahitian islands—Moorea, Vahine, and Bora Bora. Our trip was everything we dreamed of and more. The photos and videos we had seen hardly compare to the breathtaking views and exhilaration you feel when you set foot on these islands. The lagoons around the islands are crystal-clear and brightened by every shade of blue you can imagine. The islands are lush with greenery and tropical flowers. The atmosphere on each island was laid back and relaxing with no crowds, beautiful scenery everywhere, incredible snorkeling, warm, friendly, and happy people, and great food. It was as close to paradise as we had ever been.
Our travel planner, Kleon Howe, was wonderful. Kleon has vast experience in the South Pacific islands, traveling there for extended trips every year to stay updated on the resorts, restaurants, excursions, flights, etc. that he recommends. Kleon was a joy to talk to, gave us as much time as we needed, listened to what we had to say, and noted our likes, dislikes, and activities we enjoyed. In addition, he made some great recommendations on things we hadn’t even thought of. The itinerary he put together gave us exactly the trip we were hoping for and more, all while staying within the budget we had set. Kleon was always just a phone call or text away, quickly resolving the few issues that came up. Kleon was also very familiar with the airlines and schedules to and from Papeete. We flew Air France to Papeete, the capital of Tahiti and a hub for flights to the other islands. We were very impressed with the service and food on Air France. Kleon had also suggested Air Tahiti Nui, which we took for the return flight. It also provided excellent service and food.
Our flight from Los Angeles to Papeete was an 8-hour overnight flight, and we arrived in Papeete early in the morning, giving us most of the day to start our journey. Upon exiting the customs area, Kleon had arranged for a representative from Tahitian Travel Services to welcome us with a flower lei, the first sign we were on a tropical island. We were also given a packet of travel documents, including an itinerary updated with any last-minute changes, an envelope with travel vouchers, and another with inter-island air e-tickets. The detailed itinerary covered every aspect of our trip and was very easy to follow. We always knew where we had to be and when, what to expect from each activity, and what items to bring along. An extensive information guide was neatly organized into sections of a notebook. This guide was loaded with information about each island including maps, history, geostats, sightseeing, recreation, boating and sailing, scuba and snorkeling, shopping, dining, weather, what to wear, tipping, internet access, currency, transportation, newspapers and magazines, tourist offices, dos & don’ts, and recommended reading. That information allowed us to become quite familiar with the islands before arrival, made it easy to plan our free time, and protected us from the unexpected during the entire trip.
Also waiting for us at the exit was a private vehicle that drove us to the Papeete ferry terminal. After a quick lunch we boarded the ferry and began a 30-minute ride to Moorea. We stood on deck the entire trip watching in anticipation as we closed in on the beautiful crystal-clear blue waters and green hills of the island. At the Moorea ferry terminal we were greeted and transferred by private vehicle to the Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort, a lovely, cozy resort. Kleon had booked us into a charming, well-equipped bungalow that sat right on the beach, giving us a full view of the large beautiful beach and lagoon, the ocean beyond, and Tahiti in the distance. The bungalow was air conditioned (as were all our accommodations), with ample space between bungalows to give us a plenty of privacy. The food at the resort was very good.
Activities for all three islands were booked by Kleon, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of them. On our first night at the Sofitel we attended a Polynesian dance show with a great buffet dinner. If you have never been to a Polynesian dance, it’s worth seeing. The next day my wife and I went on our very first ATV ride. We had a blast. It took only 10 minutes of instruction and practice to get the hang of it. The ATV was high-quality, comfortable, and felt safe. You do get tossed around a little as you navigate big rocks, but that just adds to the fun. A big advantage of an ATV is that you can get to places not accessible by cars, or even Jeeps in some of the narrower paths. Following a guide, we climbed a couple of mountains, including Magic Mountain where, at over 600 ft., we were rewarded with absolutely stunning panoramas, bordered by the brilliant blue shades of the ocean. Depending on the depth, lighting, and makeup of the ocean floor underneath, we were told that you can see about 50 shades of blue on the islands. You could never get enough of the beautiful watercolors! Even the deepest areas were a rich dark blue. Other highlights of our ATV journey included a visit to a pineapple plantation where we enjoyed the mouthwatering, sweet taste you can only get from just-picked fruit, a stop at a stream where we fed freshwater eels, and a stop at one of the beautiful mountain scenes from the movie “South Pacific.” On our last day on Moorea we took a private tour of the northern lagoon of Moorea. Highlight of the trip was snorkeling with 3-4 ft. wide stingrays and 4-6 ft. black tip sharks. The sharks were not aggressive, and any apprehension quickly dissipated. Watching these graceful creatures swim around you is awe-inspiring, a real adrenaline rush! While sailing we enjoyed a rum punch and delicious island fruits while listening to our navigator, Herve, describe the formation of the island and lagoon from ancient volcanoes.
Our next stop was the little-known, privately owned Vahine Island. This motu (tiny island), one of thousands found in the South Pacific, was formed by crushed coral and sand. The resort has only 9 guest bungalows, so we were quite pampered for our four days there, to say the least. Before our trip, we were a bit concerned about having enough to do on this tiny island, but we ended up with some wonderful experiences in this mini-paradise. The employees at the resort were as warm and friendly as you’ll ever meet. The food, prepared by skilled chefs, was amazing. Meals were served in a cozy open-air dining room and kitchen sitting right by the beach. Each day we had a made-to-order breakfast, including a delightful fresh fruit juice mixture and, in the evening, we had delicious 4-course dinners served with wine. Most couples chose to have a table to themselves, adding to the romantic ambience we enjoyed each evening.
Our rustic and very comfortable beach bungalow sat right on the water and provided immediate access to some of the best snorkeling in the islands. The coral gardens, as they are referred to, provide an incredible kaleidoscope of brilliant colors right at your feet, with many areas to explore around the island. (Be sure to bring along a good pair of rubber ocean shoes, as you’re likely to step on some of the closely spaced sharp coral.) While on the island we took a half day snorkeling trip, part of which we had to swim against a mild current for about 10 minutes. If you’re not in reasonably good shape, you may want to think twice about this excursion. It was a lot of fun, though, one of the highlights being laying our hands on the (squishy) side of a beautiful orange-pink ocean anemone (be sure to keep away from the venomous tentacles on top) and watching little clown fish coming in out among the tentacles. They looked right at you, daring you to come any closer. While at Vahine Island, we also spent a half day on the island of Tahaa, a 10 minute boat ride to the other side of the lagoon. Tahaa produces almost all of Tahiti’s vanilla exports, much of which goes to chefs around the world, as the vanilla is prized for its strong and clear taste. While there we visited a vanilla plantation and listened to a very interesting presentation on how vanilla beans are processed. I never knew vanilla beans came from the seed pods of an orchid vine that can grow to 30 ft. long! We came home with a bag of vanilla beans which are now soaking in alcohol and will produce vanilla extract in about 3 months. We can’t wait! Following the vanilla plantation we were taken to a black pearl farm where we saw a fascinating demonstration of how cultured pearls are produced. Personally, until this tour, I had no idea what was meant by “cultured.” We watched as a technician inserted a tissue graft from a donor mollusk (in this case from the Mississippi River!) into the oysters, which were then placed in a metal cage for 3 years, at which time the smaller pearls are harvested. The process can be repeated two more times to grow larger pearls. While at the pearl farm we also learned how to grade pearl quality, and saw examples of the many beautiful glistening shades of dark greens, blues, purples, silver, gray, and the most coveted coloration, “peacock.” Equipped with this knowledge, we did come home with black-pearl jewelry for my wife, daughter, two daughters-in-law, and 6 granddaughters! The pearls were probably a bit more costly than what we might have spent in some of the pearl shops in Bora Bora, but we did feel confident we were getting good quality at a fair price. Our final stop on Tahaa was a very interesting tour of a local rum distillery which used island-grown cane sugar. We were treated to a taste test of 3 progressively higher-alcohol-content rums, followed by a couple of flavored rums. With 5 shots over a period of about 15 minutes, we were feeling pretty good when we left! We brought home a small bottle of vanilla-flavored rum, one that cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
Our final stop was Bora Bora, considered one of the most beautiful and romantic islands in the world and, if that is what you are looking for, you won’t be disappointed. Even from the air, you could tell this island was something special.
After picking up our luggage and walking out of the terminal, the view that greeted us was like a WOW Moment in of itself! The dazzling turquoise lagoon, a tiny palm-covered islet in the middle, and the beautiful green shades of the iconic Mount Otemanu in the background, makes for an unforgettable, jaw-dropping scene. For our stay in Bora Bora, Kleon put us in a 1-bedroom overwater thatched bungalow at the lovely Intercontinental Resort Le Moana. The resort is on the main part of the island, just across from the reef surrounding the lagoon, with easy access to the beaches and a small town, and wonderful restaurants within walking distance. The resort sits on the island’s only road, which serves as a perfect bike route and a great way to see the island. Staying over the water with a beautiful view of the lagoon was an absolutely wonderful experience, unlike any place we’ve ever stayed. A deck with a table and a couple of lounge chairs came with an outdoor shower. A short ladder on the side took us right into the shallow lagoon, where you can snorkel and see plenty of coral, stingrays, and a variety of colorful fish. The bungalow interior is beautifully decorated, comfortable, and well equipped. One thing that is really cool is a glass coffee table attached to the floor in the sitting area. It sits over an opening in the floor which provides a great view of coral and fish swimming beneath our bungalow. It could be lit up at night.
The restaurant on site provided an excellent buffet breakfast, and very good lunches and dinners. Restaurants right down the road provided great scenic alternatives. We loved the Beach Club restaurant, which sat right on the beach and treated us to a beautiful Bora Bora sunset.
Our favorite snorkeling tour of all the islands was “Reef Discovery” by Pure Snorkeling. During the 3.5-hour tour we encountered leopard rays and manta rays—a real treat, especially if you have never seen these graceful creatures. The highlight for us, though, was a magnificent coral garden. We could have spent hours exploring the vast array (I got lost once!) of so many shapes, sizes, colors, and groupings of coral. It felt like we were in another world. The crystal-clear shallow waters made snorkeling on all the islands among the best my wife and I had ever experienced, and this one was particularly mesmerizing. We had another interesting adventure on a two-person aquabike driven by a small propeller. This unique underwater scooter had us sitting in a chamber with pressurized air for breathing and keeping the water at chest level. We were lowered to a depth of about 10 ft., then followed a guide for the 30-minute dive. At first we were completely surrounded by colorful fish (lured by food). The guide put on a comical show of sorts and made several stops to pick up and hand us strange sea creatures through an opening in the side of the vessel. One of these was a starfish about a foot long and in the shape of a big blob with a star on its underside. It was a fun experience, although the coral in the area was not as impressive as the others we saw. Plus, during pressurization of the chamber, I experienced mild ear pain for a few minutes. This tour was worth doing once, but it wasn’t one of our favorites.
In the evening we were fortunate to receive a WOW Moment selected by Wendy Perrin and Kleon. It was a private sunset cruise and photo shoot on a luxurious 21-foot Bayliner named “Love Boat.” It was a beautiful, romantic experience. The captain was a charming man raised on the French Riviera, who had moved to Bora Bora 20 years ago and never looked back. The photos of my wife and me against beautiful background colors of the setting sun have provided us with wonderful memories of our trip to paradise. We were given a USB key with close to 100 HD photos at the end of our cruise. Glasses of sparkling wine and interesting stories and history of Bora Bora added to the ambience of the evening. At the conclusion of the cruise our captain dropped us off at the St. James Restaurant (a cool experience in itself) for an excellent dinner in a picturesque setting overlooking the lagoon.
Our last day in Bora Bora started with a ride around the island. No bikes were available during our stay, so we ended up renting a tiny Renault Twizy car. It’s a cute car and easy to get around in, but my wife had to sit in back of me in an uncomfortable spooning position, with almost no padding underneath. As such, I would recommend renting a bike (electrics are available) for a half-day. It will give you plenty of time to see the entire island, stop at a number of interesting sites, tour the main town of Vaitape, and eat lunch there. Although we did not enjoy the rough ride, we did see some beautiful panoramic scenes. One of the most interesting things we came across was one of eight 7-inch naval cannons that the U.S. military placed on the hills of Bora Bora during World War II. The hike to the canon took about 20 minutes and required moderate effort. As you would expect, the views from the hill were gorgeous.
All in all, the beauty and serenity of these magical islands, and the warmth of the gentle, happy people that inhabit them, is something I’ll never forget. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up visiting these islands again some day. I just wish they were closer.”
We had an amazing time and are so happy to have finally taken the trip. Kleon was very helpful and we worked with him for over 18 months when you factor in delays. The trip was worth the wait! We secured our own air travel to and from Papeete, but we had Kleon arrange all of the hotels, transfers, inter-island travel and excursions.
The airport in Papeete was a breeze with the expedited immigration, a suggestion from Kleon. All of his arranged greeters, tour guides, and transfers were all on time and easy to find. We thought the hotel, The Intercontinental, in Papeete was beautiful, although time there was brief.
The ferry to Moorea was quick and fun! Thoroughly enjoyed our transfer ride from ferry terminal to the Hilton. The Hilton is definitely in need of a face-lift, more specifically the rooms. The crepe restaurant was wonderful, as well as the breakfast buffet, but the other food there was just so-so. Our room location was very convenient and the resort was easy to get around. We found the bartenders/pool guys on the beach to be the most accommodating and helpful. We loved how you could walk off the beach and snorkel. The weather wasn’t the best in Moorea but it didn’t dampen our fun.
Our excursions in Moorea were a mixed bag. Loved the kayak tour and luckily had this on the best weather day. Our refresher dive was also a good tour but the dive conditions weren’t the best, as we were fighting a strong current. Good practice, though! The whale tour was not a favorite. The weather and the seas were not conducive to the excursion, in my opinion. It was no surprise we didn’t see any whales. In hindsight, we think we would have liked to do an ATV tour to see the inner part of the island, or even have rented a car to tour all around the island. But Kleon has so many great suggestions on things to do, there is no shortage of opportunity and fun.
All of the meals we went off the resort for were outstanding. Kleon was able to work with the hotel so we had reservations confirmed when we checked in. Many of the restaurants offered transportation!
Departing from Moorea was easy and we had no issues with Air Tahiti. We were so impressed with our pick-up in Bora Bora. The boat and the crew were wonderful. The St. Regis was OUTSTANDING! We LOVED it. WOW! The staff is kind, efficient and knowledgeable. Our over-water villa was beautiful and spacious. We absolutely loved the bikes and took them everywhere. Every meal there was outstanding. Loved the Vitamin Sea catamaran sail and the dives. The St. Regis has an amazing snorkeling lagoon. We had a few hiccups with excursions on the island but Kleon secured our refunds without any issue.
The airport departure in Bora Bora was a bit more confusing to non-French speakers but we got on our flight without issue. One thing we didn’t realize is we could have had Priority tickets for Air Tahiti. I think that would have been helpful departing from Bora Bora. We were glad we had plenty of time at the Papeete airport because security was slow, with a lot of cruise-ship passengers hitting the line as we did. Tourism is definitely back in French Polynesia.
We can’t thank Kleon enough for all of his guidance and dedication in the planning of our trip. He was patient, kind and a pleasure work with. His knowledge of the area is vast and thorough. He definitely made the trip better with his suggestions and arrangements. We didn’t have to worry about anything. All details were taken care of by Kleon, which makes relaxing so much easier. We have nothing but wonderful stories to tell and memories to share. No small hiccups spoiled the trip—it was the best!
We married and honeymooned in October 2022 in French Polynesia. I had no time for planning and the good sense to know I knew nothing about our chosen destination, so we chose Kleon Howe to plan for us. Kleon is a compassionate man who truly listened to all our quirks and wants and dreams, and then he turned them into a reality. He added experiences to our trip that brought me to tears because they were so beautiful. My husband just told a friend yesterday that he thought it was fantastic, and then each step of the journey was even more fantastic. It just kept getting better and better. As far as value, I joined Facebook groups for travel to French Polynesia and was surprised to see the cost others booked their travel for. Our travel costs were about the same, but we had upgraded rooms, drivers, guides, day rooms, etc., where others were asking for suggestions for where/when to go to various places, what to do with overly long layovers, etc. We never had to wonder where to go or what to do. We are ever so appreciative, and we would recommend Kleon to everyone!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Great Recommendations and deep knowledge of the area…..
Just back from a lovely trip to French Polynesia. Kleon Howe did a great job of recommending interesting places to stay and things to do, helping us to narrow and hone our itinerary. He suggested two things in particular we would not have known about otherwise–the magical Vahine Island Resort which would not be perfect for everyone but he understood how much we would respond to its charm and also the delightful Villa Mahana restaurant on Bora Bora. Both those, and our Bora Bora hotel, the St. Regis, knew him and greeted us warmly as his clients with personal notes and welcome treats. All the connections and details were flawless and made everything easy. He also was responsive and current on Covid concerns and regulations. In addition to our travel materials, we appreciated that he provided an informative and curated packet on the islands and their history and culture with maps and resources.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband, daughter (21), and I visited French Polynesia. We were there from January 1-8, 2022. Kleon Howe was our travel planner. I wanted a planner that specialized in that area and he did a remarkable job for us. I can’t imagine planning all of this myself especially during a pandemic. Omicron was just hitting the U.S. and the world right at the time we were to depart. Kleon was able to keep us informed of the constant changes in testing and vaccine requirements. Of course, he also made sure we had proper travel insurance well before our trip.
After listening to what we were looking for in this vacation, Kleon suggested spending time on 2 different islands: Le Tahaa and Bora Bora. He sent us many options for restaurants and activities. He had first hand experience with some of the resorts, restaurants, and activities. This insight was invaluable. The best thing about using Kleon and Wendy Perrin’s other agents is that every thing goes so smoothly. At every point, we had someone to greet us and lead us to the next stop. We never had to wander around and try to figure out logistics ourselves. Kleon even made notes on our local flights as to which side of the plane we should sit on to get the best view.
This was the trip of a lifetime. I won’t hesitate to use another agent on The WOW List!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to French Polynesia on October 9 to November 3, 2021 included the islands of Tahiti (Intercontinental), Huahine (Lapita, and Le Mahana), Vahine motu near Tahaa, atoll Tikehau (Pearl Resort) and Morea (Sofitel), all highly recommended.
What a pleasure it was to have Kleon arrange another vacation trip for us to French Polynesia in October 2021. Kleon had organized a memorable wedding anniversary trip to Tahiti for us two years ago, so in early 2021, expecting that the Covid-19 pandemic with its associated lock-downs would hopefully soon be over, we asked Kleon, through Wendy, to arrange another trip to Tahiti with the excuse it was to celebrate a significant birthday.
We had very specific requirements for our trip: about 4 weeks long with stays in about 5 different islands or atolls, small resorts, quiet, all within our budget, but with the option of exceeding the budget for something exceptional. Leading up to the trip, Kleon kept us informed about changing requirements for entry to French Polynesia, so we could get prepared and schedule any required tests.
Kleon provided everything we asked for, small quiet resorts on 4 islands and one atoll, ocean front & spacious bungalows with privacy, all with snorkeling, great food and wine and friendly congenial staff. Kleon also arranged for a very appropriate WOW Moment, two bottles of French wine and a massage. It was such a pleasure to make the trip arranged by Kleon, because we did not have to worry about any of the details: internal flights between the islands were all pre-booked, the transfers between the airports and the resorts mostly private…..no more having to deal with aggressive taxi drivers or overloaded vans, or wondering how to get to the next location…….It was all seamless: we got off the plane, were met by a driver and van or a boat, and were promptly delivered to our next location.
Of course, the concern about Covid-19 was everywhere, but we felt safe and secure thanks to Kleon’s advice and familiarity with the resorts. At all the resorts we visited, guests were required to wear masks when in contact with other people (even if most of the guests were double or even triple vaccinated), and certainly ALL the staff we encountered in Tahiti wore masks.
Getting our Covid-19 test before leaving Tahiti was of great concern to us. We had to get the Molecular PCR test to enter Canada, which usually takes 24-48 hours. It just so happened that we were leaving on a Tuesday evening, and the labs were closed on Sat, Sun, and Monday since it was a Tahitian holiday. Kleon overcame all obstacles about getting us the test. We were staying at the Sofitel on the island of Morea, and Kleon arranged for an early Tuesday morning taxi to take us to the testing lab for our Covid PCR tests. When we checked out of the hotel at 4 pm same day, the hotel’s reception, plus the concierge, each handed us copies of the Covid test results. We would not have been able to get that organized without Kleon.
Thank you, Kleon, for another great trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This is the second trip that Kleon has planned for us to French Polynesia, and as expected he did not disappoint. He went above and beyond to incorporate experiences we were adamant about, while also educating us as to the best experiences in each unique place we visited. He effortlessly took all of the high points from our first trip, and built on them to give us new unique experiences catered to our preferences. We’ve traveled to many wonderful countries through Wendy Perrin’s Wow List, but Kleon is without question our favorite.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our end of July anniversary trip to French Polynesia was awesome! We have wanted to take this trip for close to 15 years. While we didn’t necessarily choose the destination solely because of the pandemic, it was a location we felt comfortable with during the pandemic. Kleon offered us key information and great perspectives that helped us pick the St Regis in Bora Bora as we were also considering several other Bora Bora resorts. Kleon was also essential in helping us navigate the Covid 19 requirements for entry. He was on the phone with us for almost 2 hours helping us fill out the multiple online entry forms and followed up with us to make sure we received all of the necessary forms back with the approvals. We would not have wanted to manage this process on our own. The St Regis was phenomenal. It was such a beautiful setting. The villas were spectacular. The food was wonderful. The staff were amazingly attentive and friendly and they were all masked inside and almost always outside too. Kleon helped us pick two off-resort excursions. The first was a great snorkeling trip where we stopped at 4 spots and got to see manta rays, leopard rays and an amazing collection of fish and coral. There were only 2 other couples with us along with the guide. The second one was a whale watching trip that we couldn’t book until after we arrived and the first whales were spotted, as we were there at the very beginning of the season. We ultimately booked a private trip on our last day through the St Regis concierge, as Kleon had advised us to check in with them on our arrival as they would be the first to know if and when the whales were there. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales BUT it was a beautiful day, our guides were wonderful and we got to circle the whole island and learn quite a bit of island history and whale knowledge. A few minor disappointments: 1) the second resort pool was closed for renovations; we were disappointed that Kleon’s contacts hadn’t shared that information with him so that our expectations could have been managed ahead and 2) although our villa was truly spectacular as said above and we had the mountain view Kleon recommended, we were not as far along the dock as we would have liked and which was what Kleon requested for us. Overall, it was a phenomenal trip. It is absolutely a place we would love to return to except that there are so so many other places in the world we still want to visit! We will absolutely recommend The St Regis Bora Bora and Kleon to our friends.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Kleon was absolutely fantastic to work with! He was very responsive to questions and emails and I always felt like he had time for us and our questions or needs. We didn’t call often, but especially when we were getting our covid tests, he always answered our calls. I don’t remember ever needing to leave him a voicemail. He has a really calm and easy going demeanor that was so helpful with all the changes and restrictions due to covid. With covid, he was so helpful in making sure we had everything we needed to get in. He even filled out our paperwork online with us on the phone so that he would know how it worked for future clients (we were his first clients to go since the second closure). I am so so grateful we had Kleon to help us get through all the covid stuff, it was so helpful and he was just amazing.
We absolutely loved the trip he planned for us! I have never been on a trip where every guide was great, but that happened on this trip. There was not a single activity we scheduled that wasn’t amazing. He even helped make sure that I could go on a food tour with my dietary restrictions, and even though he never got verbal confirmation before the tour (and he offered to refund us my portion if it was not acceptable), the tour went off without a hitch. At the end of the tour, our guide told us that whoever we had hired was amazing and persistent, so clearly Kleon had really been making a huge effort for me.
I think in my mind, I always thought there was a good chance this would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip because it’s just far. Our return trip was 23 hours or so, thanks to an awful 7 hour layover in LAX. But after being there, I’m quite confident we’ll be going again, it was just too amazing. And when we go, we’ll be hiring Kleon again, no question.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL There were three areas where Kleon provided super value.
First, I would have passed on The Brando if it wasn’t for Kleon, and that would have been a mistake. Why? The price—it’s expensive. But it was well worth it. … It’s the finest resort we’ve ever stayed at anywhere in the world, in terms of service, privacy, and attention to detail.
Second, I don’t think we could have found testing, if it were not for Kleon.
And third, not huge, but we made a decision while at The Brando that we wanted to visit a pearl market, and he made those arrangements for us on the fly and organized the transportation for us.
Without Kleon, the trip would have been a much less enjoyable experience—or we might not have been able to go at all. That’s because French Polynesia’s entry requirements changed while we were going through the planning process. Just having Kleon hold our hand through it and make sure we did it correctly was very reassuring.
Editor’s note: You can read a full interview with the Gobles here.
Kleon went truly above and beyond….to understand our interests and desires and then craft a perfect travel experience. To begin, we spoke on the phone for 45 minutes–building confidence and trust, through great communication. My adult daughter and I are fairly seasoned international travelers. It was Kleon who suggested the Cook Islands. (…..and what a super destination. The islands were not on our radar, at all.) We had a wonderful Christmas, beside the world’s MOST lovely lagoon. We loved meeting the Cook Islands folks and learning some new crafts. We are completely hooked on using a Wendy Perrin recommended travel expert to help us plan our future trips. The most delightful and unexpected moments of a lifetime are just around the corner.
Kleon is extremely knowledgeable about French Polynesia and the options available to explore the islands. With his guidance, our family of 4 chose an amazing 9 night catamaran charter followed by a luxurious 5 night stay at the Intercontinental Thalasso in Bora Bora. At the Intercontinental, we received special treatment that can be attributed to Kleon’s influence.
Thanks to Kleon, each portion of our trip surpassed our expectations, and we will remember it forever.
Kleon is very easy to work with and is great about clearly sharing the rationale for his recommendations. We only made a few tweaks to his original recommendations, In retrospect, I could have been clearer with about our family’s willingness to get up early – we had one connection that required a 5:40 am wake-up – but this was a minor glitch in what was otherwise an awesome trip.
Kleon designed our 50th Anniversary celebration trip exactly as we requested, and within our budget. We stayed in small boutique resorts on six different islands (Tahiti Iti, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Fakarava, Rangiroa), always in a beachfront chalet, once in an over water bungalow and once on a steep mountainside with spectacular views of the lagoon, reef and ocean beyond. Each accommodation and setting was different from the previous ones, so we had a chance to experience a broad range of seashores, mountains and culture.The associated restaurants were mostly excellent, serving fresh fish and seafood. Only once we were assigned an unsuitable bungalow and Kleon immediately responded to our e-mail and arranged for a change.
In the past 30 years, we usually planned and organized our trips ourselves (including a trip to French Polynesia and Cook Islands 20 years ago). This time we were looking for a bit upscale treatment. Designing this trip on our own would have been a real challenge, choosing the right accommodation and coordinating all the flights and transfers. Kleon was always very responsive to our multiple queries and questions and we would highly recommend his services.
Kleon planned an extraordinary adventure for our 50th wedding anniversary!
He asked very specific questions and was meticulous about making sure that out trip to Tahiti catered to our wishes and contained everything we requested and more.
We stayed at two very different hotels (one on Bora Bora and a second on Tetiaroa). The service at each was impeccable. Everyone seemed to know our names and go out of their way to help.
There was never a “glitch”- each day was perfect!
I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate a life event.
Thank you Kleon!
This was our second trip with Kleon Howe, and it lived up to the expectations created by the first trip. This time we were returning to Samoa, where we first visited 25 years ago. This was a little different than the first trip Kleon did for us, where we didn’t have a clue about what we wanted to do; this time we had some knowledge of the place and at least a general idea of where we did and did not want to go. Working with Kleon was just as satisfying under these circumstances. It’s easy to assume that a specialist agent won’t be as helpful when you are on a return trip than he was when you were in terra incognita, but this is absolutely not the case. Kleon steered us toward the best kind of car, hotels that weren’t under construction or where the beach was better, and helped us stay away from the flash but generic resorts we dislike, without resorting to “garden toilets.” With his help, we were able to appreciate what is new about Samoa, but also to re-experience the things that led us to return, to begin with.
Kleon listened closely to our interests and did an excellent job planning appropriately. He matched us up to excellent whale tour operators. In fact, he helped add additional whale watching trips while we were there, during his weekend off. I was able to swim we have a whale for 2 1/2 hours, some time getting as close as 10 yards. The trip flowed smoothly . He recommended excellent accommodations on the three islands we visited, each with very good snorkeling.
When recently planning a long trip to Australia, we contacted Kleon Howe when it became clear that we did not have a good way of sorting out and coordinating the many, many possible destinations, activities, hotel choices, and options so that they would fit into the allotted time, flow reasonably from one to the next, allow enough time (but not too much) at each destination so that we could really get to know it without getting bored, and satisfy our desire for detailed, flexibly-paced encounters with nature and culture and our wish to avoid groups and crowds. The trip Kleon put together for us was practically perfect in every way. He found us great hotels, wonderful guides who seemingly knew everything (including the names of the koalas and who had a new joey), and created a pace that suited us exactly. We were not overscheduled or rushed, we were never bored, and we saw and learned so much more than we expected! As an example, it would never have occurred to us to book three days with a guide at Uluru—as far as we could tell, it was a big rock, right? Instead of a superficial glance, we had long excursions over terrain that varied culturally as well as geologically, and learned about the many factors that have shaped this region. We saw vistas and differences in the texture of the rock from place to place, and we learned how the land is managed. By the end, we saw the outback with completely different eyes than we had coming in. The same thing happened everywhere we went—thanks to Kleon, we spent our time with guides who had deep knowledge of and affection for the places they showed us. Our WOW moment in Cairns was a wonderful gift—dinner under ancient trees, with stories and lessons on didgeridoo technique from our indigenous hosts. This kind of trip planning takes time and team work, but the end in our case was OUR trip, and not anyone else’s. We had a wonderful, wonderful time.
Hi my name is Patricia Ilisu, on your recommendation I have used the services of Kleon Howe to assist us with the organization of a once in a lifetime trip to French Polynesia. This was very short notice and Kleon was wonderful in lining up a lovely trip in a very short period of time. I told him our style of travel, no crowds, no touristy stuff just experience nature, culture, food and photography. His recommendations were perfect. Had I organized this I would have never picked Huahine as an island to visit and it was beautiful and the hotel, although rustic, had the best food we had on the entire trip. The highlight of the vacation was the catamaran sail from Huahine to Taha, Rangiroa and Bora. A boat picked us up from the hotel dock in Huahine and dropped us at the hotel dock in Bora. The crew was fantastic Tamatoa the skipper took us to amazing snorkeling sites and Virginie our hostess cooked most amazing meals and made sure we had a memorable experience. Bora Bora is a must do the first time around but I would not go back if we decide to go back to French Polynesia, and that is just because it is so darn expensive and touristy. The only thing Keon could not fix was the weather :))), we had an unusual amount of rain for the period.
Kleon was an excellent resource during the planning, scheduling and actual trip we took during the holidays. We knew we wanted to go to the South Pacific but had no idea where to start. Kleon “interviewed” our wants and budget and put together the perfect package. During our almost 3 week adventure, we enjoyed both the Cook and Tahiti Islands (5 islands total) with virtually NO issues. Our favorites were Aitutaki and of course, Bora Bora. Each resort stay was perfect with extra touches like flowers on the bed and complimentary champagne/wine. My birthday is New Year’s Day, so Kleon arranged for us to stay at the perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve on Rangiroa where the buffet and fireworks were AMAZING!!! If you are considering traveling to this area, I HIGHLY recommend Kleon.
Kleon listened to our desires for the details on how we like to vacation, such as quiet locations, no cities or crowds, and to have a relaxing schedule. Not having been to French Polynesia, we had no idea where to go, or even if our timeframe made sense. He explained all those specifics to us, to help in our date planning. He even suggested airlines and routes. The trip was planned end to end, so we didn’t have to figure out the maze of airport to hotel to ferry, etc, which made for a very stress free trip. He documented the specifics of our trip in our itinerary so that we knew what to expect every step of the way, including phone numbers if something went awry – it didn’t! He provided restaurant and activity suggestions that were included with our package. Made it very nice to not have to remember all the details, we could always refer to the package.
One big item he suggested, that we never would have thought of ourselves, was to charter a catamaran. What a wonderful suggestion! Our captain and cook were so nice and knowledgeable. We were on the boat for 5 nights, and our only regret is that we didn’t have the catamaran booked for longer! What was truly wonderful is they took us to many coral gardens that we never would have made it to ourselves, and we were typically the only people there. We also got to see sharks, and feed the sting rays. The crew was very excited to share the spots with us, and to provide us with an amazing trip.
We highly recommend Kleon!
Kleon helped us plan a superb trip to French Polynesia. He listened carefully to our requests and arranged things seamlessly. He offered suggestions that we hadn’t considered— several days on a catamaran were a highlight.
He added extra touches. Our overwater bungalow in Bora Bora was at the end of a row of several bungalows, looking out at what seemed to be our own private lagoon—we could watch colorful fish pass by right from the deck—and we found several surprise amenities upon check-in (including champagne). He got us a perfect table at Villa Mahana, on the third level of a Mediterranean-style villa—very private, overlooking a reflecting pool and the candlelit tables of the other diners below. And our beach bungalow on Vahine Island (one of only nine bungalows on the island) was ideal—and spacious, with multiple areas to lounge in, including a front and back lanai and several seating areas inside. We wouldn’t have been able to know of these fine points without Kleon’s expertise.
He was supremely accessible both before and during the trip. When our flight was delayed he arranged for updated arrangements such that everything continued to go smoothly, greatly soothing my anxieties. On the return home, we decided to spend an extra night in Papeete in order to guarantee timely travel home – he handled this without a hitch. I would highly recommend Kleon and look forward to traveling again using Wendy’s recommended agents.
Kleon did an amazing job coordinating my trip to Tikehau, French Polynesia. He considered my strict timeline and added value by coordinating all transfers and choosing the perfect resort. Because he’s a diver himself he knew the right questions to ask to help me pick the right scuba club, and the capstone of my trip was two interactions with a wild dolphin on my second day of diving. I wouldn’t hesitate to book with Kleon again and recommended him highly.
There were so many specifics that warranted the across-the-board excellence of planning our trip to Tahiti with Kleon. Overall, he really got to know myself and my husband, our travel style, and what we were looking for out of our trip. Because we were planning this with short notice, just over two weeks, he was able to apply his expertise in finding new activities and locations when our first choices were already booked. Beyond the planning aspect of our trip, he also taught us a lot about the local culture so that we were able to enjoy it more. To give you an example of how well he got to know us and apply that knowledge to our trip, he was even able to give me a list of unique local oils produced only in the Islands that I should bring home after mentioning that I hated generic souvenirs.
Just returned from a month in the South Pacific planned for us by Kleon Howe. After a conversation between the two of us where he asked about our travel style, he made many suggestions as to where to go, what to see, where to stay, etc. After we chose our itinerary he sent a list of what to do at each stop and even made restaurant recommendations. It’s clear that Kleon is very experienced and knowledgeable about this part of the world. We divided our time between French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. We stayed in several different places and with all those different flights, ferries, transfers etc. everything went off without a hitch. I highly recommend Kleon to anyone thinking of visiting his neck of the woods.
Kleon Howe planned our trip perfectly. The first part of the trip was a no-brainer. We stayed at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora as this was the one request my 12- year-old daughter made. However, our family is more adventurous than that and the trip only got better from then on. For the next portion of our trip, Kleon persuaded us to charter a catamaran. I was skeptical about this as I was concerned we would not have enough to do or that we would be bored. Kleon assured me otherwise. He advised me that we would experience the culture and geography much differently by doing this. He was right. We loved this portion of our trip. The final part of our stay at a high-end eco resort was extraordinary. Kleon was always informative, collaborative and cheerful in my dealings with him. He knows the area extremely well. He had many suggestions but carefully listened to what each family member wanted from our trip and then came up with an itinerary that suited us well.
Highly recommend Kleon. Every detail was exactly as planned, his recommendations were spot on, the people he referred us to were exactly what we needed. Kleon has clout! Upon arriving at a restaurant that he reserved, we were escorted to the very best table. Not sure how he could have done better!
Kleon Howe took our thoughts and ideas about traveling to Tahiti and made it a reality…and he didn’t have much notice considering we wanted to travel over Christmas and New Years! We are a family group of 5 who travel frequently together but rarely use the services and support of a Travel Agent/Planner so the ease we all experienced on this trip made it all that more enjoyable. Kleon listened to what we were looking for, considered our style of travel and budget then worked his magic with the destination, flights, room configurations and availability. We so appreciated his creativity and willingness to rework and revise the details until we were satisfied. We all were especially grateful for the extra effort Kleon took to ensure that my oldest nephew who has autism, would have certain needs met. Rangiroa and Le Sauvage hold some very special memories for all of us. Thank You Kleon!