4 Best Luxury Tours – 2017 Platinum List

Abercrombie & Kent, Madrid Tapas Tours, Tauck and Private Tours Paris


4 Best Luxury Tours – 2017 Platinum List

The Essence of Italy tour takes visitors to essential locations such as Rome’s Pantheon and Venice’s Grand Canal (pictured).

Abercrombie & Kent - Essence of Italy

Visitors who take this comprehensive 11-day trip get a whole lot more than the predictable must-see checklist

When people first travel to Italy, they typically carry a mental checklist of must-see sights: the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sistine Chapel. But those who opt for Abercrombie & Kent’s “Essence of Italy” tour often find that it’s the unexpected detours that make the difference.

“It’s more than the sights,” says Emanuela Spadoni, an Italian native who has led the tour since 2016. “The focus is on getting to know more, absorbing Italy’s culture and tradition, interacting with locals and tasting and making food from different regions.”

With 52 offices around the world, Abercrombie & Kent offers luxury adventure trips in more than 100 countries on all seven continents. Their programs are intimate (no more than two dozen guests at a time), led by a local resident tour director, and grant behind-the-scenes access to museums and archaeological sites.

The “Essence of Italy” tour is recommended for first-time travelers to the country. From Rome to Venice, the journey ticks off all the major sights with stays in four- and five-star resorts, such as a former 19th-century palace with views of the Baths of Diocletian and an old Franciscan monastery overlooking the Ligurian coast. More importantly, it embeds guests with locals, and ensures time isn’t wasted in lines.

Along the way, Spadoni shares anecdotes about growing up in Rimini on the Adriatic coast and living in Florence. One dinner is served inside a home in Rome’s Trastevere, where guests have candid conversations with their host about the Italian way of life. They stop at some of the country’s oldest churches and synagogues for exclusive insights into restoration projects. In Florence, chefs lead a hands-on three-hour cooking class with recipes for bruschetta, pasta and tiramisu. There are stops in smaller, romantic cities like Verona, Lucca and Siena. There’s even a visit to a balsamic vinegar farm.

“We share experiences together for 11 days,” Spadoni says. “Eventually, our tours begin to feel like traveling with a small family. It’s something very special.”


Madrid Tapas Tours

According to Adventurous Appetites, the best way to explore the Spanish capital is through the stomach. Typically stopping at four eateries, this gastronomic tour steers small groups toward hidden local gems. From cider and sangria to jamón ibérico and croquetas, each tapas order comes paired with a history lesson.


Tauck - Botswana, South Africa & Zambia Tour

On safari vehicles outfitted with night-vision goggles, guests venture deep into the African wilderness past a meerkat colony and a rhino sanctuary. The 12-day tour includes views of elephants, giraffes and zebras from a 1920s train in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Visitors also helicopter over one of the world’s biggest inland deltas and sample traditional African barbeque.


Private Tours Paris - In the Footsteps of the Impressionists Tour

This nine-hour tour takes guests to the places that inspired some of the world’s most famous masterpieces, like the garden where Claude Monet painted his water lilies and the church at Auvers-sur-Oise immortalized by Vincent van Gogh.