Categories: Rambler E-Newsletters, Tour Styles

Spotlight Insights with Monica and Maria Elena

by Carol Busch - Thursday, May 12, 2022

When ExperiencePlus! started developing new tour styles in 2018, little did we know the pandemic would prevent us from launching our inaugural Spotlight tours until 2022. Now that the season is getting underway and we have just one Spotlight Tour available in fall, we want to better explain what this tour style is, how it differs from our Classic tours, and who would most enjoy taking a Spotlight Tour. We recently asked EP co-owners and sisters Monica and Maria Elena for some Spotlight insights. 

Q: Like Explorer Tours, Spotlight Tours are new to the EP Tour style line-up. How is a Spotlight Tour similar to a Classic Tour and how does it differ?

A: Spotlight tours are similar to Classic tours in that we have the same great tour leaders, same level of accommodations and meals, and we will navigate by following our chalk arrows for all the rides. The biggest difference from our Classic tours is that our Spotlight tours are shorter, that is 6- to 7-days long, and we have emphasized multi-night stays, so we will stay in at most three different hotels, usually just two. Another difference is that we’re selecting hotels and towns that offer a variety of optional activities – whether it is a longer ride, a cooking or yoga class, or a kayak paddle.

Q: What inspired the development of the Spotlight Tour in general? Have you done other hub-and-spoke-type tours before?

A: We often hear that people wish they could engage more deeply with a few places while they are on tour, perhaps returning to the same café’ a few days in a row or exploring some of the different features a place offers.

We also know that everyone loves to stay in one place (and not pack and unpack) and that there are certain places that everyone regrets leaving – so we figured, why not cater to those desires? We used to run a similar style of tour in the early 2000s, but we only stayed in one hotel. We felt that adding another hotel (or a maximum of two others) would be just the right balance to provide variety, and still help people truly get to know a place.

Another inspiration is the fact that we have so many returning travelers, several of whom even do the same tour more than once—so creating more tours in interesting regions lets us provide travelers with different experiences and helps us “show off” the region in different ways—a win/win for all!

Q: What kind of rider or group is going to love being on a Spotlight Tour?

A: Families, groups of friends and anybody who wants a more laid-back tour that gives a deeper feel for a place or hotel than a Classic tour. Friends, families and couples with varying cycling abilities will love the Spotlight Tour style. Perhaps someone would enjoy a total pool day while another would rather bicycle miles upon miles. On a Spotlight tour, everyone wins. They are perfect for people new to cycle tours who might just want to dabble in a bike tour before taking on a longer ride.

Q: The 2022 Spotlight tour takes place in Southern Tuscany. For travelers who are looking for a “new” part of Italy to explore, does this tour offer any new sights or experiences that haven’t been included in previous EP tours?

A: This little corner of Tuscany, called Maremma, is not very well known but has everything that makes the rest of Tuscany so famous — beautiful olive groves, vineyards, medieval towns and quiet farmhouses. It also features highlights that aren’t as well known, such as stone “Tufa” towns, Etruscan tombs, hand-carved footpaths that connect villages.

Our first 3 nights are at a stunning farmhouse estate that has incredible food, a beautiful pool and spa and is surrounded by gentle rolling hills – perfect cycling and relaxing all in one spot. The second stay is at a lovely little town in the middle of the Tufa Towns of Tuscany, an area with 1,000-year old archeological sites and beautiful small villages made out of the soft Tufa Stone. Exploring the southern Maremma is like discovering a little-known gem that nobody else knows about.

Q: In that vein, how is the Costa Brava Spotlight tour, which you’re offering as well in 2023, different from your “Classic” Costa Brava tour?

A: The Costa Brava Spotlight tour focuses specifically on two of our favorite areas of the Costa Brava Plus! tour. For the first three nights we stay at a beautiful beach-front hotel on the Gulf of Roses a half-mile from the bustling town of Escala. The area famous for its historic roman ruins. From here we can explore the quiet roads and picture perfect medieval towns of the interior as well as the fascinating fishing town of Cadaques. The second stay is in a quaint farmhouse in the hills at the base of the Garrotxa volcanic mountain region. It’s a lovely place to enjoy the local wine and incredible food. The local riding is stunning. Enroute we’ll pedal by Figueres and get a chance to visit the incredible Dali Museum.

Q: What do you most want EP customers to know about what makes a Spotlight tour so special and why they might consider one for their next vacation?

A: We love the versatility of this tour style. Whether you want to enjoy 5 days of cycling or want to mix it up with a number of activities, these itineraries are designed to be relaxing, flexible and, most importantly, a way to dive deep into some of our favorite destinations.

Carol Busch - Carol had the great fortune to develop her passion for bicycle travel in the late 1990s when she first worked for ExperiencePlus! as a marketing associate, tour guide, and tour developer. Convinced she needed to find ‘more purposeful’ work, she went back to graduate school and spent the next two decades working in non-profit and higher education marketing and communications. Carol returned to ExperiencePlus! in 2021 as Sales and Marketing Manager. Whether mountain biking, backcountry skiing, trail running, fly fishing, or exploring gravel roads, Carol is continually in pursuit of new adventure.

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