In October of 2015, Southwind Adventures welcomed a new member to its highly selective team of travel consultants. Marc Ahumada, a seasoned pro in the field of travel, relocated from his sea-level home in Laguna Beach, CA to try out life in mile-high Denver, CO.
As Marc learns the Southwind brand and style, he finds himself in familiar terrain. He’s been designing upscale Latin America travel adventures for years. Everyone on the team is excited for the firsthand knowledge, experience, and passion that Marc brings to the table.
Learn a little more about Marc with us as we interview him about trip design, travel, and life:
Southwind: HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY INTO THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?
Marc: I actually grew up in the travel trade – my family owned a wholesale tour operation for Mexico for many years. So with all the background I had working in all the different departments in my family’s travel company, I ended up back in travel doing custom trip design to Central & South America.
Southwind: DESCRIBE ONE OF YOUR EARLIEST TRIPS TO LATIN AMERICA
Marc: In 1974, I traveled to Mexico with my father, helping him with a group trip to the then all-new destination of Cancun. There was one hotel in the whole place! No retail, a couple of restaurants, no other tourists, and whole lot of empty beach. Needless to say, it has certainly changed a lot!
Southwind: YOU HAVE TWO KIDS WHO ARE ALSO PASSIONATE TRAVELERS. WHAT KINDS OF FAMILY TRIPS HAVE YOU TAKEN TOGETHER?
Marc: I have always been a waterman, growing up by the ocean. My kids are exactly the same, so most of our trips have been set on a beach. Favorite family destinations have been Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador, and Peru. Active adventures filled our trips – always doing something, always exploring. I guess it set in, as my son and a friend take off for an exploration of Latin America by camper van. They’ll be driving from California to the southern tip of Argentina over the next couple of years.
Southwind: WHAT’S THE BEST HOTEL IN LATIN AMERICA THAT YOU’VE EVER STAYED IN?
Marc: I’d have to say Peace Lodge, located in Vara Blanca between the Poas and Barva Volcanoes in Costa Rica. It belongs to my friend, hotel visionary Lee Banks. His imagination when it comes to hospitality is genius! Peace Lodge overlooks the lush and verdant La Paz Valley, a beautiful jungle location. The rooms’ balconies are brimming with luxe details, the large and open sleeping area features a very romantic canopy bed, and … well, I won’t spoil all the surprises here, but I’m always thrilled to weave this property into customized private Costa Rica adventures.
Southwind: BEST KEPT TRAVEL SECRET?
Marc: I’m going to have to say secrets – two countries come to mind whose main attractions overshadow other amazing, lesser-known sides. In Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands steal the show, but the mainland offers so much! Andean highlands, pristine swaths of the Amazon, steamy cloud forests, and a beautiful nearly-empty tropical Pacific coast.
The other “secret” country is Panama, eclipsed by the canal. Panama offers a great diversity of destinations that are only just now starting to be visited – Bocas del Toro, The Volcan Baru highlands, the beaches of both Farallon and David, the jungles of the Darien, and the San Blas Islands.
What’s cool about both of these countries is that they both use the U.S. Dollar as their currency, making travel that much easier.
Southwind: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO REACH TRAVELERS LOOKING FOR A CUSTOMIZED TRIP?
Marc: I’m a big believer in the travel agent community. In spite of the proliferation of online travel booking, I feel that a high-quality travel experience will always require human expertise and a personal touch. Travel agents (the generalists) are a perfect go-to for time-strapped travelers. Travel designers such as myself are the specialists that provide the in-depth knowledge of a specific place. Together, we bring a much-needed voice of authority to the trip planning process. I’ve fostered deep ties with the travel agent community over the years, and the result has been countless ‘wow!’ trips for our shared clients.
Southwind: TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR FIRST TRIP PROJECTS AT SOUTHWIND.
Marc: Well, I’m currently fine-tuning an itinerary for a pair of twin brothers who have been dreaming of a big South America adventure together for decades. We’re focusing on Brazil, hand-selecting top lodges in the Amazon, Pantanal, and Iguazu Falls.
Southwind: IF YOU WEREN’T A TRAVEL DESIGNER, WHAT COULD YOU IMAGINE YOURSELF DOING?
Marc: My other dream job would be marine archeologist. A love of history, culture, and exploration really define both occupations, so I’d say I’ve found my true calling!
At Southwind Adventures, Marc customizes private itineraries for discerning travelers to Central and South America. To get in touch with Marc to design your own unique Latin America journey, email him at [email protected]
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