The World is VAST (Virtuoso Active & Speciality Travel)

I just returned from Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas. Mind, blown. Ideas, exploded. Contacts, enriched.


The week started with a full day of VAST globe-trotting.  VAST is an acronym for Virtuoso Active & Speciality Travel suppliers. The globe-trotting day was set up for Virtuoso travel advisors to sample the best of what 38 VAST suppliers offered.


An interactive trade show was set up with 38 booths of the best active and speciality travel suppliers from around the world.  There were the standard trade show booths, but this day went far beyond that. Most of the 38 suppliers had video presentations, but many also had very creative introductions to their offerings. There were game show presentations for Backroads, and airline pilot/stewardess theatrical presentations for Absolute Travel – but there was also an executive chef giving out samples of Amazon cuisine you can sample onboard their cruise.

Travel advisors were given a globe-trotting introduction (or update – because there are many suppliers I already knew in the 38 suppliers there, and have booked reliably for clients. However, it’s the ones I hadn’t known well before that was the most eye-opening.) I took away lessons on how these VAST suppliers can help me orchestrate my clients’ travel dreams.


What a fabulous collection of the “best of the best!”


You can be sure these experiential travel items cannot be put together by google. These are experiences that can only put together with my Virtuoso Active & Speciality Travel partners.


There was everything in Vegas.  My partners included Micato Safaris – voted the #1 world’s best safari outfitter and tour operator by the readers of Travel & Leisure a record 9 years in a row, with adventurous luxury safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, and India.   African Travel is another VAST supplier offering tailor made safaris, as well as small group departures to suit all tastes and budgets.


The Mexico, Ecuador tourism boards were there shouting out about all their wonders.  Canadians already know Mayan Rivieria well, and other parts of Mexico; but this year, the Amazon and the Galapagos are beckoning.  Aqua Expeditions were there (experience the world as it was the very beginning of time by sailing the waters of the mighty Amazon).


Turismo Chile  was there to tell us about Patagonia, as well as Nomads of the Sea (offering small cruise options with 28 guests in the midst of the untouched Chilean Patagonia coastline), and Patagonia Cruises by Cruceros Austalis (offering 3-4n trips to visit Tierra el Fuego and Cape Horn – 2 ships are a seamless way to connect Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina).


Peru Tourism Boardwas represented too. Machu Picchu should be receiving much more attention. Think about staying at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (5 hectares of tropical gardens in the cloud forest of Machu Picchu Historical reserve)? Adventure Associates offers Galapagos and South America.


Rico Tours (custom FIT to Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Belize) and Ladatco Tours (destination expertise in South & Central America, Antarctica, and the Falkland Islands) were there. Big Five Tours & Expeditions was also out in force, with a team in 11 countries – this show’s focus for them was Mongolia, but they also do safaris, Costa Rica, Peru, etc.


Butterfield & Robinson (handcrafting the best biking, walking and small-ship trips to the world’s greatest places for 40 years), and Backroads (offering award-winning biking, ultisport, walking, singles + solos and family adventures) had awesome booths at VAST.   And Premiere Sports Travel too (offering experiences at the world’s leading sorting events in person).


Other fab attendees were Zeagrahm Expeditions (offering small ship and overland small groups of explorers and adventurers) and Inner Sea Discovers/ American Safari Cruises (offering un-cruise luxury, active or heritage adventures to Alaska’s inside passage, as well as the Hawaiian islands).


Other partners were Lindblad Expeditions (with National Geographic offering small ship expeditions to the planets most pristine regions accompanied by a team of Expedition leaders, naturalist, historians, National Geographic photographers/ experts, speakers) and International Expeditions (pioneered nature and culture focused tours with signature journeys to Peruvian Amazon, Galapagos, East Africa, India, as well as Cuba, Madagascar, and Guyana). In addition, Orion Expedition Cruises (ships with a vision to access places and events with expeditions to Asia Pacific, Russian Far east, to Antartica) and Natural Habitat Adventures (with unique nature expeditions to secluded spots in Africa, the Arctic, Asia, Galapagos, the Americas, and more).


Satiated yet?  There’s also Swain Tours (with small groups to Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, African and Asia) with trains through Australia?  And the Blue Train (the world’s premiere luxury ail, a five-star moving hotel on wheels that traverses through the soul of South African with inspiring overnight journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town)?  As well, there’s the Rocky Mountaineer (with luxurious train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada’s West, offering the best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies)? And who can forget the Orient-Express?


Cox & Kings offers experiential travel (Africa, Asia, India, the Indian Ocean, Arabia & North Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Antarctica), and Greaves Tours offers unlimited access to ultimate India. Absolute Travel designs privately guided cultural journeys (Asia, Africa, South America, and South Pacific).  Remote Lands (offers luxe and ultra-luxe trips through Asia) and Heritage Tours Private Travel (offers luxury travel experiences to Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and all Southern Africa).


Arctic Kingdom Polar Expedition offers unique trips to the High Arctic. Knightly Tours specializes in custom vacations (Alaska, Yukon, Vancouver Island, Canadian Rockies, Western Canada), and Horizon & co also does personal bespoke travel (from coveted sporting events to Canadian experiences to safaris). Alpine Adventures offers ski, snowboard, an mountain vacations to US, Canada, Europe, and South America. And Triple Creek Ranch offers the unique ‘cowboy’ culture of the US West.


The world is VAST!