Maybe this is a new trend or I am just now noticing it, but I am starting to see retailers sponsoring travel tours. Obviously there are retail travel companies that run tours, but this is something new. What I am talking about are companies that actually make a product and are offering trips for their connoisseur customers. These trips almost strike me as pilgrimages for committed fans. Here are a couple that caught my eye:
Pub Tour of Ireland
Obviously a brewery sponsoring trip to Ireland is no stretch of the imagination. But if you combine the fun folks from Harpoon in New England with like-minded beer enthusiasts, you’re in for a fun four days in Galway and Dublin in November 2010. With airfare it’ll run you $1445, and I’m guessing that doesn’t include the bar tab.
If you crave rich dark chocolate, then you have probably already heard of Taza Chocolate. They are offering a chance to see how chocolate is made – like really made, starting from cacao farming to harvesting to bean fermentation. While in Belize for 13 day “Chocolate Week”, you’ll also be able enjoy the jungle and relax in a pretty nice looking lodge. I still have not heard back on the cost and inclusions but since this isn’t until March 2012 you have some time to save up.
Study Russian Art in Russia
This is not exactly a retailer but the specificity of the tour made it too good not to mention. I am actually really mad I missed this one. Not because I have already been to Ireland and Belize but because this would be the height of nerd art-lover travel! The Museum of Russian Icons sponsored a 17 day Russian Sacred Art Trip which just wrapped up (July 15-31, 2011). From the itinerary, they visited what seems like every well-known cathedral and obscure rural church between Moscow and St. Petersburg. And since they do not even go to the Hermitage (it has to be added in a trip extension), you know this is a legitimate, hard-core Russian Icon educational tour. Just about everything is included and its only $3800. Sign me up for next year!