If you want to visit an exotic locale and expand your horizons, I say that’s great. But you still might be nervous about pushing your comfort zone and might prefer the security of a tour. Well, we’ve found two companies now offering the luxury tour experience without the luxury “bubble”. We’ll profile the first this week and the second in next week’s post.
Abercrombie & Kent luxury tour operators recently expanded its offerings with “Connections”, a group of tours that gives you freedom and flexibility to explore at the same time providing that sense of safety that comes from traveling in a group of 24-28 people. Yes, that may seem large but it’s smaller than your average elementary school class size.
“You are still staying in four and five star hotels, but instead we’ve chosen hotels that represent the unique character of a place, a blend of boutique hotels and familiar names,” said Jean Fawcett of A & K.
Fawcett explains that sometimes the hotel selected is the same for all groups, sometimes there’s really one best place to stay. For example, the hotel in Agra, India (the Oberoi Amarvilas), is the same for all groups because of its stunning views of the Taj Mahal.
I know you’re wondering — how is this group really any different from any other group tour? Well, A & K says their network of trusted local guides and professional tour directors (who act like a trip concierge, staying with you the entire length of your trip to assess and meet your needs) are factors that set them apart. If your tour director notices you have a predilection for sampling gelato, he or she could work with the local guide to find the best local gelateria. Not too shabby.
“One of the things we effort in our plan is to experience the place like a local,” Fawcett said.
If you’ve been reading this blog you know we truly appreciate tours that offer that local flavor. Fawcett says A & K originally started offering Connections tours to Egypt as a way to lower the price point for budget-conscious explorers. I think they’ve developed something far better: the opportunity to visit fantastic locations around the world in a safe group setting that avoids the tourist traps.