TOURS WITH A THEME
planning to me was creative and fun, especially when I had decided on a theme
and began to work around it! The idea of a theme brought focus to the planning
process and seemed to get my creative juices flowing.
am often asked how I decided on a particular destination or theme for my tours?
Sometimes it was as simple as a personal preference. If there was
somewhere that I had always wanted to travel to and learn more about, I would
do my research, take a site inspection visit to experience it first hand, and
then come home and put together a tour! If I was excited about a
particular destination, I found that those who traveled with me picked up on my
enthusiasm and got excited as well!
great resource for coming up with ideas for my tours was the annual American
Bus Association Marketplace. Becoming a member of ABA was truly one of the best
moves I made to grow my small company and enhance my tour offerings.
Marketplace was a weeklong event providing tour operators such as myself the
opportunity to meet with representatives from Convention and Visitors Bureaus,
hotels, restaurants, museums and other tourism attractions from all over the
United States and Canada. The networking possibilities were endless, and
the relationships developed over the years with travel industry partners helped
make my tours extra special. Attendance at Marketplace kept me up to
speed on what was new in our industry. It helped my trip planning to know
well in advance what special exhibitions might be coming to a museum, what hot
new show might be playing on Broadway, or what neat new hotel was soon to be
opening. I give a lot of credit to ABA.
sometimes the inspiration for a tour came to me like a bolt of lightning, striking
the inner core of my imagination. Like the time I went to the Phillips
Collection in downtown Washington DC with two of my best friends. We were
going to see a special exhibition entitled: Impressionists on the
we started through the exhibit, a light bulb went on inside my
head! My friends actually saw it happen and marveled with amazement!
Wouldn’t this make a fantastic tour, to take our travelers to France and
actually put them in the scenes that these wonderful artists had painted? This
led to an incredible tour to France, where we stayed in a chateau near Monet's
home in Giverny, traveled along the Seine all the way to Honfleur and Etratat,
and had our farewell dinner at Maison Fornaise in Chatou, the setting Renoir
used for his "Luncheon of the Boating Party" masterpiece! As an added
touch (a little lagniappe) we took along a friend who was an
artist. Out on the
expansive lawn of the Chateau where we stayed Leanne gave us all lessons on
same thing happened after reading Frances Mayes popular book: "Under the Tuscan
The light bulb again went on, and I decided that this could make a great
tour! My husband and I drove all over Tuscany on our site inspection visit,
trying to find just the right villa hotel for my group to stay in on my
"Foothills of Tuscany" tour. I wanted my travelers to feel as
if they were guests in Frances Maye's book, and I was delighted to find the
Hotel Belvedere di San Leonino to fit the bill! On the actual tour, we visited the town of Cortona, and
hiked out past the park to find and take a picture of Bramasole, the home
Frances had so lovingly restored.
We even had lunch at the Ristorante La Loggetta overlooking the colorful
Piazza della Republicca described so vividly in Frances’ book.
decision to take my group to Argentina resulted from my friendship with
Patricia and Marianna, two great friends whom I had met on the tennis courts at
Ft. Myer, Virginia. Their husbands
were the military attaches stationed at the Embassy of Argentina in Washington
DC. When their tours of duty ended
and they returned to Buenos Aires, we stayed in close touch. We made a few visits to their country
over the ensuing years, and before I retired I wanted to share this wonderful
friendship with my travelers. I
knew Patricia and Mariana would make the tour very special, as it is always an
added benefit to get to know the people of the country to which you are
great example of how I played a theme was evident on this tour from the get-go.
One of our travelers had also been a dance instructor. Jim generously agreed to
give the group “tango” lessons as a precursor to our trip. We all had great fun
counting out our steps and giving it a try! When the group gathered at the Community Center prior to our
departure for the airport, the tour leaders were dressed as gauchos. We greeted
our travelers with a glass of Malbec wine and some delicious empanadas while we
checked them in and tagged their suitcases. In Buenos Aires, at our welcome dinner at Las Lilas, each
tour participant had a gift on the table in front of their place setting. Patricia had taken care of getting
“mate cups” and “bombillas” (straws) to go with them. Later on the trip we learned about this ubiquitous drink
that is as common to the Argentine people as our lattes are to us.
MORE TO COME..........