Austin Adventures’ legacy of arranging small group, vacations to the world’s most enticing destinations for active travel spans more than four decades. This legacy also leads to trend spotting.
The latest direction in luxury travel that Dan Austin, Founder and President of Austin Adventures sees is the “ultra-high-end”, over-the-top custom trip for multi-generation families. What was once a rare request, his team is now asked quite frequently to arrange a week of adventure wrapped in luxurious amenities where price is no object. According to Austin, demand for this level of spending on vacations is up 40 percent from just three years ago.
Multi generation family travel has been on the upswing for some time now. A trend of its own, Austin Adventures has seen an increase in this demographic as well, up nearly 50 percent over the past three years. According to the Virtuoso Luxe Report, in 2014 three out of 10 grandparents traveled with their grandchildren and eight of 10 families arranged for the grandparents to join in the fun.
“We are seeing more clients who say price is not a concern when planning an exclusive, custom-built adventure. However, creating a special VIP experience with lasting memories is an imperative!” Austin said. “Total privacy, security and discretion are also priorities that we understand and know how to provide.”
His staff is uniquely positioned to satisfy this growing market. “Whether searching for the hidden property in Belize or finding the best secluded spot for a backcountry birthday party in Zion National Park or figuring out how to fly in a band for a musical surprise, it’s extremely gratifying putting our decades of experience in the field to use planning something incredibly special,” Austin said.
A list of Austin Adventures’ over-the-top experiences reads like a billionaire’s bucket list. One such vacation took place on the island of Kauai where 10 friends shared a 60th birthday party with helicopter rides, a champagne brunch at the top of Waimea Falls and a private Luau and Pig roast with a musical trio. Flowers were dropped on the party from a helicopter.
His company recently fulfilled a request from a pair of grandparents who wanted to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary and treat their kids and grandchildren (14 in total) to a two week Western adventure from Yellowstone and the Tetons to South Dakota’s Black Hills. The itinerary included a private walking tour of Little Bighorn Battlefield with a local historian and a hike up Harney Peak (highest point east of the Rockies at 7,244’) enjoyed by part of the group while the kids went hiking and swimming at Sylvan Lake with the grandparents. The trip also included an all-day horseback ride with fourth generation Montana ranchers and a private chuck wagon dinner just for the family at a secluded spot overlooking the Tetons.
Thanks to the Austin Adventures team, an international celebrity and his family toured incognito behind the scenes in Yellowstone National Park. And an exclusive yacht for an extended family of 20 was secured for the Christmas Holidays in the Galapagos. Their wish to cross the Equator on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve was fulfilled.
Austin Adventures’ reputation among the famous and ultra-wealthy has spread. “Our guest list, if we could publish it, would read like a Who's Who in this country: governors, congressmen, Forbes 100 list makers, philanthropists, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Television and Hollywood personalities and more,” Austin reports.
A recent satisfied client wrote, “Austin Adventures definitely wrote the book on customer service. From hand-written notes when we booked to friendly follow-up calls before departure, then the personalized messages every day and treats left by the guides in our hotel rooms, this trip was the best experience imaginable.”
Austin attributes much of their success in being able to pull off the impossible to their recent induction into the Xanterra Parks & Resorts family of companies. This connection, especially when it comes to tours in National Parks, helps his team meet the needs of what can be a demanding market.
“Austin Adventures was one of the first tour operators to offer multisport family trips in National Parks over three decades ago. And to this day, our guests benefit from our expertise and connections. Because we are owned by Xanterra Parks & Resorts we can offer the best rooms in national park lodges (think views of forest and wildlife not the parking lot), VIP services from park staff, behind-the-scenes access, insider conveniences and more. Through long-standing relationships and knowing who to negotiate with, we can provide VIP and behind-the-scenes access to experiences not readily available to the traveling public.”