WHY IT RATES: Marco Polo journeys are limited-edition adventures that give travelers special access to iconic destinations. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer
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When the greatest luxury is access–whether venturing behind closed doors to shed light on an iconic destination, or blazing trails in pursuit of the path less taken–Abercrombie & Kent delivers with limited-edition Marco Polo Journeys.
For 2020, Abercrombie & Kent has crafted four new journeys that offer the thrill of discovery to South Korea & Japan, Rwanda, India and Bilbao & Bordeaux, as well as reintroduced guest favorites in England and Turkey.
“Through Abercrombie & Kent’s offices around the world, we have crafted experiential journeys that appeal to travelers interested in venturing off the beaten path and delving deep beneath the surface of a culture,” explains Abercrombie & Kent President Keith Baron. “This luxury of experience is as easily found gorilla tracking in the jungles of Rwanda as it is in the private cellar of a chateau in Bordeaux.”
Discover South Korea’s ancient history in the former capital of Gyeongju and more recent history in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. Search for India’s rare exotic birds, leopards and the world’s largest concentration of elusive Bengal tigers in Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks. Explore Rwanda’s wildlife and history, as well as its emerging fashion scene, meeting with a local designer in her workshop to be fitted for a custom-tailored garment.
Savor the flavors of northern Spain and southern France, such as oysters freshly plucked from Arcachon Bay and Basque cider, as well as tastings of some of the world’s most coveted wines. Get a glimpse into the life of England’s aristocracy in the private apartments at Blenheim Palace, quarters ordinarily closed to the public, and enjoy private access to the country estate of the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. Privately visit Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and join a local family for lunch in their home in Cappadocia.
“With the release next month of the Downton Abbey movie, we’ve brought back England’s Stately Homes with some enhanced offerings, including a private tour with the owner of Kingston Bagpuize House, one of the places where the television show was filmed,” explains Baron. “And we’re already seeing a resurgence of interest in Turkey; the combination of pent up demand with an increase in Tailor Made travel led us to reintroduce a Marco Polo small group journey.”
New for 2020
Abercrombie & Kent Marco Polo Journeys include privileged access to events and celebrations that lend each destination its unmistakable character. Each journey is limited to no more than 18 guests, opening up insider-access opportunities only possible for small groups, from private museum openings to visits with local people in their homes. The intimate group size also means more one-on-one interaction with A&K’s Resident Tour Director who shares their beyond-the-guidebook knowledge of life in the place they’ve lived for decades. Travelers can book with confidence knowing that each departure is guaranteed to operate with a minimum of two guests.
South Korea & Japan: Cultural Legacies of the East
Visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, including the Third Tunnel. Discover South Korea’s imperial legacy in the temples and monuments of historic Gyeongju. Take in a dazzling array of exotic seafood in Busan’s bustling Jagalchi, the largest fish market in South Korea. Savor the time-honored tradition of a Japanese tea ceremony in a Kyoto temple. Learn the finer points of appreciating Japanese sake at a local brewery visit with a tasting. Ride Like a Local on a high-speed train along an iconic route passing majestic Mount Fuji. Experience the art of sushi-making with help from a local expert in Tokyo. Eleven days from $14,795; two departures: May 12-22, October 13-23, 2020.
India: Wildlife Safari
Set out on morning and afternoon game drives in Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks, home to rare exotic birds and the world’s largest concentration of elusive Bengal tigers. Become one with nature with authentic accommodations in the heart of India’s jungles and wildlife. Explore culturally diverse Delhi and the glorious Taj Mahal in Agra. Eleven days from $8,995; two departures: October 12-22, November 8-18, 2020.
Rwanda: Land of a Thousand Hills
See three of the world’s most iconic primates up close: chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Visit the Rwandan Genocide Memorial, and discover how the country has worked to move beyond its troubled past. Learn the art of making the perfect cup of Rwandan coffee with a visit to a coffeehouse. Meet the scientists at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center to learn about ongoing efforts to preserve this critically endangered species. Nine days from $15,795; two departures: June 16-24, Oct 6-14, 2020.
Turkey: A Journey Through History
Explore Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace on private before-hours visits arranged exclusively for your group. Visit a traditional farmers market, then enjoy a cooking demonstration in the countryside. Privately cruise the Bosphorus, serenely passing palaces, mansions and gardens along the shore. Experience Cappadocian culture firsthand when you join a local family for lunch in their home. Eleven days from $6,495; six departures: May 11-21, June 1-11, August 31-Sep 10, September 7-17, September 21-Oct 1, October 5-15, 2020.
Bilbao to Bordeaux: Celebrating Cuisine and Culture
Tour the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Frank Gehry-designed architectural icon, and visit Guernica, the city that inspired Pablo Picasso’s masterwork. Explore local flavors with a cooking class in San Sebastián, the cradle of Basque cuisine. Go behind the scenes inside Bordeaux’s finest châteaux. Cruise the coastal waters of Arcachon Bay, enjoying oysters plucked fresh from the sea. Nine days from $9,295; two departures: June 14-22, September 13-21, 2020.
England’s Stately Homes
Gain access to ornate Waddesdon Manor, including the Baron de Rothschild’s original wine cellars, for a tasting of fine wines. Tour Kingston Bagpuize House, a filming location for Downton Abbey, during a private visit. Explore the private apartments at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and home to over 300 years of British history. Enjoy private access to Badminton House, the country estate of the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. Walkthrough the award-winning gardens of Sudeley Castle during a private tour with a local expert. Tour the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace during their annual summer opening. Eight days from $8,995; two departures: July 31-Aug 7, September 11-18, 2020.
Every Luxury from Start to Finish
All Marco Polo Journeys feature exclusive, locally-inspired moments designed for A&K guests, such as the opportunity to Ride Like a Local and explore a charming neighborhood by rickshaw or enjoy a Scenic Sundowner, a refreshing cocktail in an unforgettable location as the sunsets. Exclusive amenities for A&K guests include the New-for-2020 Breakfast in Bed, providing guests with two opportunities to enjoy continental breakfast served in the comfort of their hotel room, as well as Traveller’s Valet with complimentary laundry service at the midpoint of the journey. Private arrival and departure transfers are included, regardless of when guests arrive or depart, as are all gratuities, except for the resident tour director, which is at guest discretion. A&K guests also appreciate Traveling Bell Boy service to transfer luggage from one hotel to the next, as well as complimentary Internet Access.
For details about Abercrombie & Kent’s 2020 Marco Polo Journeys, contact A&K at 800-554-7094, www.abercrombiekent.com or your travel professional.
SOURCE: Abercrombie & Kent press release.