Toronto-based Butterfield & Robinson (B&R) originally made its name for luxury cycling tours – the kind of top-level affairs when one night, at dinner, the tour guide might turn to a guest and say “you choose the wine for all 14 of us tonight” – not realising he was talking to a connoisseur.
Now, the company has expanded. It offers bespoke trips, biking or walking or in some cases on canal boats. LTE (Luxury Travel Essential) particularly likes one of B&R’s new suggestions, for multi-active families:
• Day 1: Check into the Casa Medina in Bogota to freshen up before a walking tour of the city. Go galavanting with your host and explore trendy neighbourhoods, peek into quirky cafés and sample local treats.
• Day 2: Peruse the city’s vibrant food market with a local chef. Carefully select your fresh ingredients, then head to a closed-door restaurant for a private cooking class.
• Day 3: Fly to Armenia, the heart of Coffee Country. Head to your hacienda for lunch paired with a mountain backdrop before joining your guide to traverse through the surrounding cocoa plantations and bamboo forests.
• Day 4: Venture to Valle del Cocora, home of Colombia’s iconic wax palm trees. After a leisurely walk up to the valley for panoramic views and an unforgettable lunch, explore the quaint colonial town of Salento.
• Day 5: Visit a traditional coffee plantation where a local family invites you into their breathtaking home for a brewing and tasting session. After visiting the fields, they’ll prepare you a home-cooked lunch.
• Day 6: Wander through plantations to the river’s edge. From here, gallop away on horseback and soak up the stunning scenery as you trek along the Quindio River, passing pineapple and banana plantations along the way.
• Day 7: Get familiar with Cartagena on a scavenger hunt, discovering its historic sites and hidden treasures. This afternoon, put on your dancing shoes and learn how to salsa with some pros.
• Day 8: Head to Cartagena’s dock where your boat awaits to take you on an island-hopping adventure along the Islas del Rosario archipelago. Spend the day cruising between islands and snorkelling at your rhythm.
• Day 9: After breakfast at the hotel, a private driver will take you to the Cartagena airport for your onward travels. So long!
LTE would add to this:
The ‘Casa Medina’ listed above is in fact Four Seasons Casa Medina. 21 of the 62 rooms have real log fires, and for a family take one of the two-floor, integral villas, say Colibri, which has four bedrooms – hotel GM is Mark Bingle, who speaks not only Spanish but also fluent Japanese.
Extend your stay in Cartagena to appreciate the unique Sofitel Santa Clara, a conversion of a 17th century convent for Claris nuns – its 1621 restaurant is their one-time refectory. Of the 160 keys, a favourite is #511, looking down centrally across the hotel’s pool and out to sea, though others prefer one of the themed suites, say #316, the Botero Suite, was designed by the sculptor’s daughter, Lina Botero. Do not miss looking at the indigenous plants in the original 17th century cloisters. GM is Nicolas Pesty.