Despite uncertainty in travel due to COVID-19 border closures and regulations, global tour operator Intrepid Travel has seen unprecedented demand for its family tours over the last several months, prompting the company to create new Retreat-style tours geared towards the demographic, with safety and quality as top priorities.
The just-debuted itineraries embrace ‘slow travel’ in remote locales like Morocco’s Mt. Toubkal National Park, Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and England’s Cornish countryside. Operated under Intrepid’s new Safe Travels health protocols, each itinerary has been designed to benefit local communities impacted by the pandemic, while also incorporating immersive activities for children and parents who have spent the majority of 2020 at home due to the pandemic.
Intrepid has found that a quarter of the top 25 itineraries booked by its customers globally over the past three months have been family-themed tours, compared to just 12% during the same period last year, indicating a desire for families to go abroad in 2021 after months spent distancing. These small group tours (max. 12 people) also allow like-minded families to travel together as a bubble. According to Virtuoso’s recent poll, 79% of respondents said they’d take part in a travel pod, which consists of two or more households.
Currently, the top family trips booked globally are all based in Africa and Asia, including the South Africa Family Safari with Teenagers and a family tour of Vietnam, while North American families are also interested in adventures in the Middle East, particularly Jordan and Egypt.
“After months spent indoors away from friends and classmates, we’ve seen families are eager to get out and explore the world once it is safe to do so, and have a desire to reconnect with both nature and like-minded people,” said Dyan Mckie, Intrepid’s family product manager.
The four new Family Retreats, based in Morocco, Turkey and England, will have groups immerse themselves in one location in handpicked accommodation with nearby experiences. This new tour style celebrates ‘slow travel’ and allows adventurers to engage with the surrounding communities away from the crowds and in a more controlled setting.
Each itinerary has been designed to benefit local communities affected by the pandemic, while also providing enriching activities for children and parents who have spent the majority of 2020 indoors due to the pandemic. For example, in Turkey, families will visit a sea turtle rescue center – supported in part by donations from Intrepid travelers – to learn about conservation efforts and rehabilitation. In Morocco, they’ll break bread with a local Imazighen family in their village, getting an insight into daily life in the High Atlas region.
Each tour will operate under Intrepid’s new Safe Travels health protocols, developed in partnership with the WTTC. All travelers will complete a health screening at the start of the trip and be required to wear masks in certain settings, in line with local laws and regulations. Groups are accompanied by a local leader who has received specific COVID-19 training, which covers hygiene, sanitation, physical distancing, PPE as well as supplier monitoring.
In preparation for travel to resume, Intrepid recently introduced a new Flexible Bookings policy to make travelers feel at ease when booking their holidays, which permits changes to travel plans 21 days before a scheduled departure, allowing for new travel dates or an entirely different trip with no change fees.
The new Family Retreats include:
Turkey Family Retreat: Fethiye (5 Days, from USD $790 per person)
This tour has families reconnecting with the natural beauty of the world with a retreat that celebrates nature, wildlife and local cuisine. In addition to visiting a turtle rehabilitation center, they’ll also enjoy the clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean and enjoy an easy hike through the stunning mountainous terrain between Kayakoy to Oludeniz Beach. Travelers will also learn some new family favorites in a traditional meze cooking class with locally foraged produce.
Morocco Family Retreat: Ouirgane (4 days, from USD $445 per person)
The calm and comforts of Amazigh (Berber) hospitality await on this retreat to Ouirgage on the edges of Mt. Toubkal National Park. Travelers will leave the modern world of Marrakech behind and journey to a home away from home to enjoy time to reconnect with their family. Families will hike the hills through small villages and farms, hang out with the locals, try their hand at making some iconic local dishes and enjoy a pool overlooking the mountains.
England Family Retreat: Cornwall (4 days, from USD $745 per person)
Travelers will explore England’s southwest coast, soaking up the views of sun, sand and sea from their family-run accommodation and during walks through the history and nature of this proper ‘ansom section of Cornish countryside. Also included is a private yoga and wellness session and a visit to a small, family-run bakery that makes Cornish pasties the traditional way.
England Family Retreat: Peak District (3 days, from USD $510 per person)
Families will enjoy Britain’s first national park and explore its forested valleys and small stone villages threaded by walking trails during this new retreat. Based out of the quintessential country town of Castleton, travelers will walk their way to the scenic villages of Bamford and Bakewell, along the banks of the River Derwent, passing farms, woods, cottages and more, while stopping along the way to grab a tea in a shop that supports, and is run by, the local community.
Due to the continued demand, Intrepid also has plans to launch several family-focused tours within the U.S. and Canada later this year for those who can’t or won’t feel comfortable going abroad yet.
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