Abercrombie & Kent Debuts New “Connections” Value Tour Brand
By James Shillinglaw
August 13, 2012 1:19 PM
Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary in business as a luxury tour operator, this September is introducing a new brand that will be priced on average 30 percent less than its current products. “Connections by Abercrombie & Kent” features 17 new itineraries over six continents and is designed to offer an intimate, first-hand perspective exotic places and cultures, combined with A&K’s traditional high-end service. A&K made its announcement at a reception for travel agents in Las Vegas at Virtuoso Travel Week.
“Today we are previewing a new tier of A&K travel that delivers an incomparable local experience to a whole new world of travelers,” said Phil Otterson, president of Abercrombie & Kent USA. “Connections by Abercrombie & Kent provides the same expertise and support for which A&K is known -- at an unexpected price.”
“Connections” journeys are designed by A&K’s destination experts located at its offices around the world. The itineraries were created with experience and value in mind, giving the traveler a deeper understanding of a destination’s culture, history and natural beauty, without the extra amenities that make up a traditional luxury journey.
Group size remains small at no more than 24-28 guests, which allows more personal contact, less time spent boarding and disembarking vehicles and ample one-on-one interaction with A&K tour directors, who are part storytellers, part scholars and part tour organizers. Assisting these tour director in the destinations visited are local guides who provide access to special events, ceremonies and interaction with local cultures.
A&K’s local guides include a former violinist for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, who provides a first-hand perspective on Vienna’s musical heritage. In China, guests are welcomed into the home of a family living in one of Beijing’s last surviving hutongs and taught how to make traditional dumplings by the family’s matriarch. A local fisherman in Croatia shows guests how to harvest oysters and describes why they are considered to be among the best shellfish in the world.
“These journeys are designed by A&K’s local staff, men and women who have spent decades, and in some cases lifetimes, getting to know the people and places guests will encounter on their journeys,” said Otterson. “Their contacts and insider knowledge are what make Connections journeys so memorable.
Connections by Abercrombie & Kent features itineraries in Italy, France, Eastern Europe, Croatia, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Peru, Canada and the western United States.
Connections guests are housed in luxury resorts or boutique lodgings. “We’ve chosen hotels that represent the unique character of a place, a blend of boutique hotels and familiar names including Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Inter-Continental, Le Meridien, Marriott, and Sofitel,” said Otterson.
Meals on Connections programs will be representative of the destination visited, but also will offer guests the freedom to explore personal preferences and indulge in local dining. A&K will continue to offer special welcome and farewell dinners as part of the Connections price. An A&K representative will meet Guests arriving at the airport. In addition to arrival and departure transfers, most taxes and gratuities are covered in the trip price, with no hidden fees or surcharges beyond what is clearly listed in the itinerary. Sample programs include:
Croatia: Jewel of the Coast: This nine-day program, priced from $3,675 per person land only, allows participants to explore Split’s Mestrovi Gallery as its curator opens its doors to the group for a private guided tour. They meet a local fisherman and sample his harvest of Croatia’s famous oysters. They attend a private talk in Dubrovnik with a local resident who relates her experiences during the Balkan War. They also meet traders and craftsmen of Dubrovnik. The program also immerses guest in Croatia’s musical heritage during a local brass band performance.
India: Spiritual Splendors: With this 11-day program, priced from $3,990, guests experience both sunrise and sunset at the Taj Mahal. They enjoy an elephant safari on a private Rajput farm and witness the evening Aarti ceremony on the Ganges, complete with chanting prayers and mantras, drums and bells. They go on a sunrise boat ride on the sacred river Ganges and take a rickshaw ride through the colorful shopping district of Chandni Chowk. They also visit the Deepalaya School for local underprivileged children.
Peru: Land of the Incas: This nine-day program, priced from $4,185, provides guests with two opportunities to explore Machu Picchu, including a sunrise visit. They meet a local family who welcomes them into their home in the Sacred Valley. They visit a private residence with a collection of Incan and colonial artifacts and meet an internationally renowned weaver who introduces them to this traditional craft. They also hear an Andean musical presentation by Tito Leon, a regionally famous musician from Cusco.
North America: Canyons of the Southwest: This 10-day program, priced from $4,845, gives guests the chance to stay inside some of America’s great national parks. They can discover Monument Valley in the company of a local Navajo guide and explore Rainbow Bridge on foot.
East Africa: Tanzania & Kenya: This 11-day program, priced from $5,195, allows guests to Experience east Africa with the company that pioneered the modern safari adventure. They meet with a Maasai village elder, who welcomes them into the community, and pay a visit to a local school, one of the few that educates special-needs children. They also see how an organic garden has transformed a coffee farm.
Australia: Adventure Down Under: This 10-day program, priced from $5,350, gives guests the opportunity to learn how to live in the bush at a family-run sheep ranch. They visit the Great Barrier Reef to get insights from an expert marine biologist and follow a local indigenous guide down tribal paths through the Daintree Rainforest. They also get a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House.