Collaborations between experts, artists or designers and manufacturers or producers are nothing new, this has been going on for decades, but ever since some slick marketing folks figured out that they can combine any two words with a lower case x and get consumers excited, these kinds of collaborations have exploded in popularity. Hardly a week goes by without a press release pitching something x something hitting my in-box, and frankly, most of these are a waste of everyone’s time.
But in the world of luxury travel, this concept increasingly makes sense. That is mainly because what has been really hot in recent years is “experiential travel,” a trend that shows no signs of cooling off. Basically, people want to do more with their precious vacation time than just lay on the beach - they want to learn something, do something, try something and really experience something. But for the most part, the companies that are really good at running active or immersive trips are different from the companies operating great hotels or cruise ships, so there is a natural opportunity for partnerships between the best-in-class upscale adventure companies and tour operators and the best accommodation providers, and there are several notable recent examples - all of which make for amazing vacations.
For instance, I’ve written in these pages before about my very favorite travel provider of any type, the highly acclaimed Micato Safaris, the most awarded safari company in history, winner of just about every award you can win in the travel industry (including the World’s Best Tour Operator title nine times, spanning every category), and easily the top of the heap of safari tour operators, whether you go private and bespoke or on a group scheduled departure (I’ve done both, and you can read more about what makes Micato so great here). But not everyone wants to fly to Africa just for a lengthy safari vacation, and for this reason, Micato has partnered with high-end Azamara Club Cruises to offer safari extensions following some of the luxury line’s popular cruise itineraries. The result is two different types of high-end vacations in one trip.
Likewise, two of my favorite active travel specialists, cycling and hiking experts Butterfield & Robinson and Backroads, both standout, award-winning companies with 40-plus year track records of excellence (I’ve happily traveled with both), are teaming up with top river cruise operators. River cruises are currently the hottest segment of the cruise industry, and lend themselves to be being a floating hotel home base for weeklong cycling or hiking itineraries. I have a friend who is an avid cyclist who just did one of these with Backroads and loved it. She had done other similar trips but noted that there was something appealing about not constantly packing and unpacking and changing hotels (even though guides move luggage for you) and having one familiar base for the whole trip, albeit a base that moves from country to country.
Backroads has gone mainly with luxurious AMA Waterways, as well as other operators, offering a vast slate of cruise options, from the major European cities to Southeast Asia to the Galapagos Islands. B&R started with a simpler approach, and teamed up with Uniworld, another acclaimed luxury river cruise line, to offer three different 8-day itineraries on the Rhone, Danube and Rhine, all in top shelf ships. (Read more about B&R, Backroads and Trek Travel, mentioned below, here).
But the newest and to me most interesting mashups involve one of my absolute favorite companies, a family-owned hidden gem, Explora. Explora operates environmentally responsible all-inclusive adventure lodges in amazing destinations across South America like Easter Island, Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and several others. They have created a really unique model where they employ the best local guides as full-time staff, and rates include not just superb lodging, delicious local foods and Chilean and Argentinean wines, but also a vast slate of half and full day adventures, many to choose from every day, a mix of hikes, boat outings, horseback rides, cycling and all other sorts of activities. There is nothing quite like what Explora is doing, and I have been to three of the company’s locations, and was blown away every. Most recently, Explora launched a pair of new collaborations.
Explora x Trek Travel teams up with another of the world’s top cycling/hiking tour companies to offer a 6-day guided multi-sport week called “The Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu” based out of Explora’s Peruvian lodge. This is the inaugural offering in the partnership, with many more itineraries expected, but the program launches with four sessions this summer and fall (August 18-23 and 25-30; September 1-6 and 8-13). These are “arrival-to-departure” experiences, all-inclusive with airport transfers, meals, beverages and one full day or two half day guided adventure outings daily. Here is a much more detailed look at the program.
Explora also teamed up with a world-renowned luxury adventure river cruise specialist. Explora x Aqua Expeditions combines a minimum of three nights at the same Peruvian Lodge, including explorations of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Bucket List destination Machu Picchu, with three or more days afloat on the Amazon on the Aria Amazon. This trip is called “From the Andes to the Amazon,” and you can find much more info here.
The bottom line is that regardless of wealth or budget, for every traveler time is the scarcest and most precious commodity, and anything that lets you leverage your vacations and get two different complementary experiences out of one trip makes sense. These collaborations do just that. I expect to see more and more of these, and that’s a good thing, because the world is a big place and there is a lot to see and do out there.
Let's block ads! (Why?)