A new breed of fixers for the itchy-footed are offering made-to-measure trips tailored to a client’s pocket, pace and passions, writes Tim Pile
On his way home from a recent Nato summit in Wales, Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at Stonehenge. The prehistoric monument closed early so that the president of the United States could soak up the atmosphere without being gawked at by day-trippers. He was given a personal tour by an English Heritage curator before continuing his helicopter journey to London. Describing the ancient stone circle as “cool”, Obama told reporters that he had “knocked it off his bucket list“.
The president’s sightseeing sortie might seem beyond the reach of ordinary mortals but his stopover was merely a high-profile example of a global tourist trend.
A growing number of tour operators specialise in putting together one-of-a-kind adventures. Like buying a tailor-made suit, discerning clients – many of whom have been there, done that, and bought the vineyard – are willing to pay for a “made-to-measure” experience. Add a whiff of one-upmanship and it’s easy to understand why this sector of the tourism industry is becoming increasingly popular.
The high-end holiday market encompasses a pigeonhole-defying range of possibilities. A customised itinerary can mean gaining entry where doors are usually closed while neatly sidestepping the tourist herds. The best companies can fix up tee times on a Ryder Cup golf course or charter you a steam train in India. They’ll arrange for a historian to accompany you around first world war battlefields or set up a meeting with the president of the Maldives to hear how climate change is affecting the low-lying archipelago.
Firms that put together special-interest programmes usually give clients the opportunity to unpick and reassemble itineraries to suit individual tastes. Perhaps you’re fed up with arriving at all the best sights at midday, leaving you with overexposed, washed-out photos. Someone a phone call away will be happy to tweak the tour so that you arrive in Vienna for sunrise and Budapest for sunset.
Read the full travel story here: http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1656313/call-travel-designer-ultimate-bespoke-holidays