About gbooks

Our luxury travel service puts the ultimate touch on Journeys reflecting a unique experience of a lifetime; we design Legacy Travel for our clients. Our focus on bespoke Journeys entails more than a creative idea and a few reservations. We hand select our land teams, guides, behind the scenes experts - all who reflect our passion for excellence and personalized service. I’m passionate about travel and unique experiences; interested in meeting local people,studying architecture, discovering and learning as much as possible about every city I visit. I adore Paris, yearn to see more of Africa, a recent visit to Istanbul reminds me that there is much more to see in Turkey. A passage to India allowed me to explore the rich and diverse culture, and I barely scratched the surface of this amazing country. Love to sail, discover music and indigenous food of each region, seek out the best markets and design, and of course dine at the local restaurants. I particularly love roaming Africa, recently explored Argentina and India, which deserve another visit. A devoted Francophile, love all things Parisian, world music, excellent wines & champagne.

The Marquesas, Tattoo Art

Historically there was no writing in Polynesian culture, so the Polynesian’s used tattoo art filled with distinctive symbols to express their uniqueness and individuality. Tattoos can indicate status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and one’s rank within the local society. Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed. Tattooing has a long history in the Oceania region, with some of the earliest examples of Polynesian tattoo art showing up more than 2,000 years ago. Each Polynesian culture has its own interpretation on tattoos, from the varied motifs to the tools and techniques. The work is often intricate and deeply meaningful.

French Polynesia, farewell.

The Polynesian islands that were first visited were the Marquesas Islands, which were found by European explorers and the Spanish navigator, Alvaro de Mendana de Neira, in 1595. However, the European navigators showed little interest due to the lack of valuable resources. Captain James Cook was the first navigator trying to explore the Polynesian triangle. In 1771, when James Cook first returned to Tahiti and New Zealand from his first voyage, the word “tattoo” appeared in Europe. He described the behaviors of the Polynesian people in his voyage, which he called tattaw. He also brought a Tahitian named Ma’i to Europe and since then tattoo started to become rapidly famous, primarily because of the tattoos of Ma’i.

Hiva Oa

My epic Journey on Lindblad National Geographic Ship Orion from Papeete to the Marquesas yielded a small collection of photos of local tattoo art.  I expected to discover more, however the locals were very pleased to let me photograph their body art. One man in Fatu Hiva asked me for $30 to photograph him, he explained there was no work on his island. I later discovered he told another guest five dollars. Lesson: hard not to look like a tourist on remote islands! Half of his face was tattooed, a work in progress, and I didn’t provide the additional funds for the second half.

A few centuries ago, one of the easiest ways to figure out where a Polynesian person came from was to look at their tattoos. Marquesan art and architecture were highly developed and Marquesan tattoo designs, which often covered the whole body, were the most intricate in Polynesia.

Tools of the Trade. Although many years have passed, the tools and techniques of Polynesian tattooing have changed very little. For a very traditional design the skill of tattoo art was usually handed down through generations. Each tattoo artist, or tufaga, was said to have learned the craft over many years of serving as an apprentice. A young artist in training often spent hours at a time, or even days, tapping designs into sand or bark-cloth using a special tattooing comb or au. The tattoo master was a highly-regarded position within the ancient Polynesian culture. Regarded as spiritual leaders, these individuals had many responsibilities, from mastering the art of Polynesian tattooing to extensive travel within islands to perform their rites. The position was so demanding that they rarely had families.

Placement on the body plays a very important role in Polynesian tattooing. There are a few elements that are related to specific meanings based on where they are placed. A tattoo placement above the waist indicates that the design is related to someone’s spiritual nature or the heavens. If the tattoo is below the waist, then it goes down into the earth. The placements of some elements on the body, such as genealogy tracks on the back of the arms, suggest that the back may be related to the past and the front to the future.

In ancient times, you could distinguish the social class of the tattooed subject, as some were intended for gods, others for priests and still more for ari’i. The hui ari’i type is reserved for chiefs, whereas those of the hui to’a, hui ra’atira and ‘īato’ai, and manahune types are seen on war leaders, warriors, dancers, rowers and people of similar classes.

French Polynesia

Geometric patterns are the most common element you’ll see. The shapes, placement and other details change dramatically depending on the tattoo master, the location and other factors. For example, Tongan warriors had triangles and solid black parts that were placed down to their knees from their waists.

Welcome at Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas

As beautiful of a practice as it is, Polynesian tattooing almost suffered the fate of extinction. When Catholic and Protestant missionaries came to the islands in the 1800s, they forced islanders to dress in traditional English styles, therefore covering tattoos. Eventually, tattoos were banned, but as the 1980s came about, Polynesians started reclaiming their cultural identity. Since then, the practice has been revived and now flourishes throughout the islands.

Fatu Hiva French Polynesia
Hiva-Oa French Polynesia

Looking Forward Private Islands & Villas

Private Islands — a sea full of enchanting locations: The Brando Resort, Fiji, Necker Island…we have a black book brimming with private island Villas. Ponder Isola D’Ibiza, Amalfi Coast, the Maldives, Moskito Island, Necker Island to name a few… Private Yacht Charter—With more than 8,000 miles of coastline and over 2,000 islands to discover, the best way to experience Greece and her many destinations is by boat. A Greek sailing vacation allows you to explore the ruins of Ancient Greece, nosh on traditional mezé at waterside tavernas, sailing in Greece is a near-mythical blend of line-of-sight cruising with enchanting anchor outs. There are gorgeous summer yachting locations in the South of France: St Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Ville Franche, Cap Ferrat, Antibes and Monaco. Discover the beauty and splendor of the South of France from the idyllic perspective of a yacht – from the beautiful coast, employ the tender to pop in at famed locations for lunch and avoid the crowded avenues and hotels. The South of France beaches and coves provide excellent sunbathing spots which can only be accessed by luxury yacht. Diving in many locations can be included in your coastal sojourn. Villas — In Italy, France and Spain, clients are clamoring, as many Villas reserved in 2020 will be utilized in 2021, the collection will be limited. Imagine a month long summer sojourn in Tuscany or Umbria or Puglia. A private villa allows leisurely day trips, base near a cosmopolitan city or wander through the countryside. The coast of Spain also offers Villa options. Oh, Mallorca would be an astonishing late summer location!Villa outside Avignon Amalfi Coast Private Island. Formerly owned by an iconic super star ballet principal this luxurious, private island paradise has been entirely renovated to pristine condition. It is the ultimate getaway for those wishing to have paradise all to themselves while able to enjoy the mainland when desired. A 27 foot launch is included for trips to the mainland or to Capri or to Positano, Amalfi, or Nerano; anywhere on the coast one wishes to go. A full staff is on hand to provide all services. All the best, activities and water access of boating, diving and lazy beach days. A 120 ft yacht is available for charter as well. This yacht can be chartered by guest on a daily or  basis for overnight trips to other parts of the Mediterranean – Sardinia, Sicily, Portofino.

Loire Valley Chateau with your own lake & private golf course

France, oh so many chic choices for mountain villages, small islands for a rural lifestyle or lavender scented countryside.  A historic Château sitting quietly within the picturesque Loire Valley landscape, generations of discerning guests have retreated to this elegant Château since it was first built in 1775 during the reign of Louis XVI, the last King of France. in 2013 a private family undertook a full renovation of the Château with a world-class golf course meticulously crafted, intertwining through the vast woods. Imagine a luxurious escape, steeped in the rich culture of French joie de vivre. Le Mas Chateau is an 18th century farmhouse in Provence, located near the Medieval city of Avignon. The property’s 65 acres offer true privacy and seclusion. The home and gardens sit amidst working pear orchards and sunflower fields on an island in the Rhone River. Within easy reach of Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gordes, St Remy and Aix-en-Provence, Le Mas Chateau is ideally situated to access all that the region has to offer, should you decide to spend a day away from the peaceful property.
The World Is Your Oyster!