Posted on 20 March 2012
Butterfield & Robinson's new Bistro Trips
By Steve Jermanok
Other biking outfitters have tried to emulate Butterfield & Robinson, but none can approach George Butterfield’s panache. Since he started his company in 1966, Butterfield’s ultra-sybaritic jaunts have included biking through France’s Loire Valley where you spend the night at a different private castle each evening. All vacations should be this glamorous. Or should they? B&R has just announced that they will be offering a more casual alternative in 2012 called Bistro trips. Instead of castles, you’ll be staying at independent 3 and 4-star hotels and pensions. Instead of a gluttonous multi-course feast, expect simpler dinners that feature indigenous fare. Pricing on these Bistro trips is $2,000-$3,000 lower than their signature biking trips and initial destinations include Provence, Tuscany, Puglia, and Normandy.
Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels. Follow him @activetravels
Posted on 03 March 2010
I first met Erik Blachford at a dinner in Whistler a couple of years ago, when we got into an extended discussion about the merits of the Burning Man Project. He is a devoted attendee while the jury is till out as far as I'm concerned. No matter, Erik is not the type one might think of when one thinks of the desert free-for-all called Burning Man. He's currently the Chairman and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson, the pioneer of upscale biking and walking vacations, as well as Chairman of Terrapass, Inc. He was formerly president and CEO of Expedia and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp's travel division. Very early in his career, Erik spent several years guiding and developing trips in Western and Eastern Europe for Butterfield & Robinson, as well as managing the company's student travel division.
On the other hand, maybe this is exactly the guy you'd expect to find at Burning Man. I recently got around to asking him some other questions in his new leadership role at Butterfield & Robinson, where founder George Butterfield is now the self-styled "CEO of all things slow."
Erik, you did a stint at B&R years ago. What were you up to then?
I started guiding for B&R in 1988, and spent four great seasons guiding bike trips in France as well as in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. I also managed the B&R student trips for those years. Four weeks, 30 kids, carrying all their gear in pannier bags –quite an adventure.
Clearly, the company, and the world, have changed mightily since then. What kind of changes have you seen in the luxury biking and hiking market?
Back when I was first guiding, the whole idea of getting a little exercise while on vacation was still a bit revolutionary, especially when combined with the idea of arriving in athletic gear at some of Europe's finest hotels.
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