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Tailored Treks

For many travelers, nothing beats one-of-a-kind trips that cater to their particular interests, however luxurious or off-the-wall
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, July/August 2008

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Telio puts it this way: "You can book yourself into the Four Seasons Whistler without any help. We often achieve private access, such as arranging for our clients to play golf with the mayor of Whistler, or have a private performance of Cirque du Soleil." Micato guests routinely meet Masai elders and enjoy other invitation-only experiences such as meeting with paleontologists Philip and Louise Leakey, the grandchildren of Louis and Mary Leakey. Latitude International is built almost entirely on the concept of access and special handling, as its owner, Dominic Hampshire, was an equerry, or personal aide to the British royal family, and takes the concept of treating clients like royalty seriously.

"We literally hold the keys to the castle, and our connections allow for visits to otherwise private castles, golf clubs, after-hours private tours of museums with the curators, those kinds of things," says Hampshire. "A lot of our clients want to meet local people during their travels, not celebrities, but rather to visit a Scottish castle and not just see the castle, but sit down to tea with the 16th earl." Catherine Heald of Remote Lands notes that "it could be palaces with royalty one day and sitting down to a dinner at a remote indigenous village the next. "The point is to have a profound, life-changing experience."

Sometimes this access comes in the form of personal connections money cannot otherwise buy, but more often it is simply a matter of expertise: any traveler could theoretically hire the best guide in Florence, except that he would not be able to find him. Either way, from dining with royals to kayaking with Olympians, bespoke travel offers truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Still, there are limits to what even the best companies can arrange. "People often ask to meet the queen," says Hampshire, "but it's something even we can't do."

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