2019 Travel & Tourism Awards

www.lux-review.com Page 23 Amber Road Tours was founded by Jonathan Bassett who emigrated to Italy from the US in 1995, and Sonya Conti, an Italian from a small town near Lake Como. They manage operations from Spoleto, Umbria and have their administrative and customer service offices in Charleston, South Carolina. Spoleto and Charleston are sister cities, and both host the international music festivals conceived by the composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Jonathan and Sonya created Amber Road after his time working as a tour manager for a large travel company, leading Providing small group cultural package tours to English speaking travelers the world over, Amber Road Tours offers its guests unique experiences originating from the owners’ local knowledge and cultural familiarity. As part of our overview of a selection of winners from the 2019 LUXlife Travel & Tourism Awards we profile the company and invited founder Jonathan Bassett to tell us more. Amber Road Best Boutique Italy Tour Operator 2019 groups of 50 participants in a rush to cover the Italian peninsula from Venice to Sorrento and back in six days. From this emerged the concept of a much slower, in-depth cultural experience - regional tours with smaller groups, using smaller coaches, minimal coach time, historic center hotels for maximizing both structured and free time on tour, fine dining in small restaurants. Equally important is their use of native tour managers and local guides who give their travelers a background and flavor of Italy they would otherwise miss. Jonathan provides us with a fascinating insight into the firm and how it came into being. “Amber Road Tours offers regional tours because the essence of Italy is local: many Italian cities and towns pre-date the ancient Romans and their cultural uniqueness persists today. Each region has its own history, traditions, gastronomy and wines; its people speak with a distinct accent and oftentimes in dialect. Exploring one or two regions at a time provides a richer, more meaningful experience. It reduces travel time and requires smaller coaches (hence smaller groups) for getting off the main highways and negotiating back roads. In our Spoleto office we have a metal backed map of Italy from the 1950s – all the secondary roads are the color amber. That’s how we got our name. “When we began Amber Road Tours we were living in Tuscany, and Umbria was practically our backyard. This part of Italy we knew very well, its incredible combination of history, extraordinary art & architecture, it’s wonderful landscapes, exceptional food and wines. We did not have to go far to discover more than we could possibly include in one tour. As our explorations took us further south and north we found that the rest of the peninsula possesses an equal wealth of cultural heritage, so our new itineraries also found their best expression region per region.” Since initiating their first Tuscany/Umbria trip in 2003 the agency has been upgrading and expanding its services with twelve additional 7 to 13 day tours. They attract an international clientele originating from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Ireland that returns again and again. In 2018 fifty percent of their bookings came from repeat clients. Additionally, Amber Road Tours also offers its guests the opportunity to experience the beauties of some of the most glorious jewels in Europe’s crown. These include Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Slovenia. Looking ahead, the ART team will continue to explore and develop trips to Southern Europe’s most stunning destinations to offer their guests new and enriching experiences. Company: Amber Road Tours, Inc. Contact: Jonathan Bassett President Address: 272B Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina, USA Phone: 843-579-2828 Email: [email protected] Website: https://amberroadtours.com/ “From this emerged the concept of a much slower, in-depth cultural experience - regional tours with smaller groups, using smaller coaches, minimal coach time, historic center hotels for maximizing both structured and free time on tour, fine dining in small restaurants.” Image: Spoleto Duomo (Cathedral) © Amber Road Tours

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