ROAM is no ugly duckling….or are we?

Recently we became part of a really cool travel network called My Little Swans.  Started by Katrina Garnett as an outflow from requests for information on her personal travel experiences, this is an eclectic collection of top quality, albeit small, travel outfitters who provide personalized travel experiences.  

As part of this process, I was asked to summarize what ROAM was all about and why we were different than the other gazillion internet-based companies out on the world-wide web.  It’s funny to imagine me at a loss for words but I had to pause and ponder.  Below is an excerpt of what I said…

ROAM is a small boutique adventure company that I started back in the late 80’s.  Everyone else was going clubbing to cheesy 80’s music and I was planning remote expeditions to all corners of the earth to get my kicks.  Some things will never change but our trips have become significantly more service-oriented since I started.  We have however maintained our small group size and personalized attention.  I also think we bring sensibility and accountability to the equation without stifling the adventure.

Sadly (because I am a better guide than marketer) we are not a household name for adventure but we have operated trips for Butterfield & Robinson, Mountain Travel Sobek, Off the Beaten Path Adventures, OARS, Natural Habitat, Nimmo Bay Resort and a number of other large companies over the years.  Now that we are long-established, more than 70% of our clients have traveled 3 times or more while another 20% have traveled with us more than 10 times!  Half of our business comes from custom trips and organizing family vacations that no one will forget. (see, happy family to the right)

Although we started out offering outrageous expeditions we have always prided ourselves on amazing culinary experiences, eclectic wine selections and great service-oriented guide staff.  I always tell people that I was never famous, good looking or rich so I had to rely on amazing food, great gear and friendly demeanor.  Some might argue that over the years, friendly demeanor has morphed into blatant sarcasm, but we still have amazing food and gear! 

Oddly, the fastest growing segment of our trips are lodge-based adventures or what we often refer to as “multisports”.  I suppose a multisport can be camping-based (and lord knows we have tried to sell them) but most people prefer “adventure by day and luxury by night”.  The luxurious components of our trips does not take away or diminish the quality of the daily adventures.  These are authentic experiences ranging from swimming with sea lions, to watching grizzlies teach their young, to rappelling down waterfalls to access exciting stretches of whitewater.  We just have remote adventure lodges exclusively for our guests’ use 🙂

The Lodge at Chilko for example, is a 10-million dollar private guest ranch built completely off-the-grid at the north end of Tyslos Park.  A little known gem, just an hour flight from Vancouver BC, the park includes the 55-mile long Chilko Lake which is surrounded by 10,000 foot peaks and no roads or infrastructure.  Our main lodge is where we dine and most of the socializing occurs but guests are outfitted in decadent 1 or 2 bedroom chalets with vaulted ceilings, stunning views and most importantly, privacy.  From here we raft, kayak, wildlife view, bike, hike, heli hike, fish (both spin and world-class fly fishing) as well as horseback ride, ATV and boat on the main lake.  The Lodge can sleep a group of 28 but we only take 12 guests at a time so you can pick and choose your own itinerary.   I think you can get the picture…

Anyways, we have a nice website (albeit a bit utilitarian) and I always speak to people directly about any of our trips.  People often ask me what my favourite trip is and I have a stock answer stating whatever one I am on.  However, for My Little Swans they were not taking “no” or any diversion for an answer.  Subsequently, my top three suggestions are as follows:

The Lodge at Chilko Multisport as it appeals to all ages and abilities.  Our Patagonia Multisport for similar reasons then add Argentine wines and beef, and if they want a mind-blowing Alaska trip (Alaska is a crowd favorite for Americans) try the Tatshenshini River Expedition through the world’s largest protected wilderness.  It’s camping-based and rugged but we have done multi-generational trips-of-a-lifetime there.  Dining while glaciers calve into the river and enjoying scotch with 10,000 year old ice is pretty decadent no matter where you have traveled.