We all want to feel unique and understood so why shall we strictly follow checklists and procedures without adapting them to our customers? Guests’ expectations keep on getting higher and the focus should be on them.

This, however, means being truly flexible, being able to adapt at a fast pace and on a daily basis to all potential guests’ requests. All team members must feel like entrepreneurs and need to have enough support from their team and manager to deliver our promise. As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it.

As part of our series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Moritel.

Stephanie was born in France in small countryside town close to Lyon. After studying art in France and Italy, she started her hospitality journey at 21 years old in Bora Bora. Since then, she discovered that her passion for travel could turn into an exciting fulfilling career.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As I was studying Art Restauration in Italy, I went back home for Spring break. My mother signed me up to attend a summer job fair. To make sure I would spend the whole afternoon there, she asked my younger sister to attend with me as her little spy. I thus went from booth to booth collecting nos as an answer as my resume was so specific until I reached the hospitality corner. There, in a very French way, they told me that as I spoke fluently 3 languages, they could most probably do something with me! I got hired after several interviews and a 2-week intensive training to join the Front Office team in a resort in Bora Bora and I never went back to the Fine Art Academy.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Hospitality is all about stories and meeting people and hoteliers in general are great storytellers! On my very first day at La Samanna as a Concierge, I was 22 years old at the time, a guest came to the desk to retrieve the rental cell phone he had ordered. We were in 2010, data did not exist, international calls were extremely expensive. The gentleman grabbed a chair and sat next to me behind the desk, warmly grabbed my hand and told me “Hey, I am Bob! We’ve never met, you are new?!” I was really taken by surprise and felt a little dumb frankly. This classy older gentleman in his kaki being so friendly and warm with the hotel newbie… I then found out who Bob was, friend of the hotel’s founder and multi-repeat guest to this day. The type of guest who asks you how you are and sincerely means it giving you a courtesy call, who wonders whether you are happy with your life and how your son is doing as of course he saw you pregnant.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

You learn making plenty of mistakes. However, there are a few hilarious situations I could share. One of our very loyal guests is a real animal lover: puppies, kittens, she is helping all the lost souls she finds on the island. That year, before departing, the lady asked us to check on her new rescue. I obviously said of course without asking more questions. As I was preparing for a large event at the main pool and as I was pulling electrical cables for lighting, setting speakers and a stage for the entertainers with the A/V team, I saw a young duck paddling into the pool. Obviously, Donald Duck could not crash into our party, so I had to find a solution. I thus called the gardeners to come with a net to relocate our visitor. Two gardeners arrived and froze seeing the rescue duckling. They then explained to me that the famous animal-loving lady had left some Graham crackers as it was very fond of biscuits, but we should find him a real home. Eventually we managed to catch it and to set him up in the natural reserve pond behind the hotel before the event. Lesson learnt, always ask questions before making any promises to a guest!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Obviously, the colleagues and managers you meet along the way shape you and help you to develop. Sometimes you learn the hard way. I remember once I was a very junior Event Supervisor, and my General Manager asked me to reconcile a full hotel buyout event charges and send the invoice to the client. It was 4pm when he asked me. I knew what to do in theory, but I had never done it at that scale. He told me “Well, you have the entire night to figure it out, I told the client they can review it tomorrow over coffee”. I felt a huge pressure and I was a little upset as well but I could hear the clock ticking… I took over the meeting-room and started. The first time I checked the time, it was 10pm and I felt that I would never make it but kept on going. By 3am, I was done, I had scanned everything and shared it by email with the client. The next morning, after a quick night and a double espresso, the General Manager arrived in the office and told me “I always knew you could do it, I would have never promised to the client otherwise”. At the time, maybe it was the best way to challenge me and push my limits. Nevertheless, as I am now a little older and more experienced, I think the genuine and kind transformational management style my current General Manager is using is most appropriate and beneficial in the long run!

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

We are simply putting the guest at the center of everything we do. Delivering a unique, flawless and personalized experience. Sharing our culture, our flavors and traditions. Being genuine, authentic and caring. It is a true savoir-faire, a company culture, and we can innovate and be pioneers in the way we do it. Automating what can be to maximize the engagement. Creating an authentic and genuine emotional connection is obviously a major part of it.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

We all want to feel unique and understood so why shall we strictly follow checklists and procedures without adapting them to our customers? Guests’ expectations keep on getting higher and the focus should be on them.

This, however, means being truly flexible, being able to adapt at a fast pace and on a daily basis to all potential guests’ requests. All team members must feel like entrepreneurs and need to have enough support from their team and manager to deliver our promise. As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it.

Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Covid19 created an urge to gather as a family or as a group of friends but also just to get out of the routine and to travel. Bookings were made at the last minute. There was also a strong need for comfort and safety. In the future, I think sustainability will become a major focus. Guests are also willing to have a meaningful experience whether consuming local products, learning new skills or joining a CSR project through sponsorship or active participation.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I love culturally rich experiences. My last trip in Peru was the perfect example of my ideal vacation. Museums, historical sites, local gastronomy in fancy restaurants but also in very modest eateries, a lot of spirituality and myths — I went horseback riding in ancient temples with an historian who also shared and explained the Inca rituals –, of course magnificent hotels in breathtaking locations, grandiose train journeys and a good massage after a long day exploring.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Developing cultural immersive activities with local experts such as an island archaeologist or naturalist gives a new insight on must-do activities. We designed several signature experiences that quickly became our best sellers. We also consolidated our offer developing a whole wellness program with yoga, Pilates, fit fusion, sound bath meditation as well as energy remastering sessions. In our Spa, we will be launching new locally inspired rituals designed around our island plants by our expert naturopath. Iridology and bioresonance will complement our offer for a new holistic approach to wellness. The real journey would then start from within. Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

I don’t think you need five! As my mentor once said, quoting Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Welcoming each guest just like you would welcome a family member or a dear friend to your home, making sure they feel comfortable and have everything they need, serving a meal they like pairing it with a bottle of their favorite wine, having a pleasant conversation and creating memories. That is what we are all looking for at home or while traveling.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have always believed that you need to give back, at your own level. As the chairman of our CSR Committee, I have been able to get very much involved with a lot of island charities on topics that are deep to my heart such as education, aid to vulnerable populations whether in financial distress, victims of violence or handicapped or animal welfare. Lately, La Samanna has been sponsoring an elementary spelling-bee contest, a spay/neutering campaign for island cats and dogs as well as several joined actions with shelter for women victims of violence. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 I believe education is key. We need to give the tools to the next generation to do better, faster and on a larger scale. An educated child will become a responsible adult, a potential dedicated parent and slowly but surely big progress could be made. It is nothing revolutionary unfortunately, but new challenges are rising, and we need a visionary multi-potential upcoming generation. I would start with a global mentorship program.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniemoritel/

Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.