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Posted on April 22nd, 2020 in Our Stories
At Holiday Vacations we believe in empowering the communities we visit and make an effort to support local economies as often as possible. We feel that by visiting the local farmer, eating at the local restaurant, or hearing about local history from the people whose ancestors have lived it creates a more genuine experience. Plus, many of these communities rely heavily on tourism to fulfill day-to-day life. By keeping profits within the community, we can help those destinations continue to exist and prosper for years to come. This ripple effect demonstrates the truly positive power of travel.
While our list of local partners is quite large, we have chosen a few to talk about. The examples below showcase some of our local partners and the value they bring to our guests including farm-to-table experiences, song and dance to delight, educate, and honor local cultural heritage, family-owned restaurant gems, and other residential attractions that have us supporting the local while touring the globe.
Nestled among massive ancient geological formations, dramatic geysers, and staggering waterfalls of the Golden Circle lives Efstidalur II Dairy Farm. This Icelandic dairy farm is run by four siblings who are the seventh generation living on the property, dating back to around 1750! In 2013 they opened their own restaurant and café, featuring savory delights made from their milk and meat. The vegetables used are sourced from other local farms, providing a true farm-to-table experience. A stop here is not complete without trying their famous Skyr, a delicious cultured dairy treat with a similar consistency to Greek yoghurt. This breakfast staple in Iceland has been a sweet and creamy treat since the Viking times!
In 1946, Walter and Emily Smith started a small family business with the intent to share their love of Kauai’s rich cultural heritage. Equipped with a small rowboat and a borrowed outboard motor, they would take enthusiastic patrons up the scenic Wailua River Valley. Four generations later, that small boat has been replaced with spacious open-air boats, powered by a rear-engine system invented by Walter Smith Sr. himself. Take in the lush riverbanks and tropical breezes as you experience the sacred capital of ancient Kauai. We even learn traditional songs of ancient Hawaii and the hula! At the Fern Grotto landing take a walk on the wild side as we make our way through the rainforest into the geological wonder. Within the Fern Grotto discover vibrant exotic plants and ferns, some even growing upside down.
The real story of the vonTrapps is just as fascinating as “The Sound of Music” portrayal. In 1926, Maria was chosen to help the Baron Georg von Trapp with his seven children, particularity to care for young Maria who had Scarlet Fever. One year later, in 1927, they were wed. The family’s passion for music started very early on, awarding them first prize during a choral competition in the 1935 Salzburg festival. Three short years later, as Hitler entered Austria, they decided to leave their material possessions and large estate behind. With nothing but their hiking knapsacks and mountaineering clothing, they traversed the Alps by train and made their way to London before taking a boat to America. The family, nine children with a tenth on the way, were accompanied by Father Wasner who helped them turn their singing into a profession – “The Trapp Family Singers.” In 1941 they bought a large farm in Vermont that reminded them of the Austrian landscape they missed so much. After nearly 20 years of concerts in over 30 counties, they decided to turn their chalet into a lodge and welcome guests. In December of 1980, that lodge was destroyed by a devastating fire and was replaced by the remarkable 96-room alpine lodge we visit today.
Not too far from the iconic Cliffs of Moher, you’ll find the quaint, family-run Rathbaun Farm. Brimming with “warm Irish welcome,” Frances and her team offer home-baked scones with fresh whipped Irish Cream along with coffee or tea. After taking time to truly savor your snack, learn about farming life in Ireland. Fintan carries on farming traditions from generations past and present, specializing in sheep. Learn all about the animals that live there and how daily life is spent on the farm. Bottle feed baby lambs and make friends with the resident sheep dog who will proudly demonstrate his skills. There is plenty of time to walk the grounds, appreciating the 250-year-old thatched roof cottage and other enchanting buildings on the property.
What happens when you combine a love of cooking with your mother’s collection of mouthwatering recipes she adoringly penned in Jacksonville, Florida? The perfected art of BBQ! Nearly 40 years ago, Woody and his partner Yolanda teamed up to open their own restaurant. With a little help from Woody’s mom, they transformed their passion for the perfect BBQ and heartfelt community relationships into Woody’s Bar-B-Q. Not only do they offer exceptional cuisine, but also a passion for helping other families pursue their dreams as well. In 1989 they sold their first BBQ franchise as a family-owned concept. This concept has evolved over the years, and with the help of their second generation, Woody and Yolanda continue helping with day-to-day operations at the corporate office as well as several restaurant locations.
Holiday Vacations Tour Directors are some of the finest in the industry. As a destination specialists responsible for efficient tour operations, their genuine warmth and contagious passion ensures a worry-free vacation. While our Tour Directors offer incredible commentary about the places we visit, many of our international and Hawaii tours team up with local guides to offer the most authentic experience possible. Nothing compares to learning about the history, geography, and culture of the places we visit than through the eyes of someone who calls it home. In Hawaii, many of our local guides come from Hawaiian decent and not only tell their personal stories about life so far from the mainland, but also help us expand our vocabulary. Another example is in England where we work with the legendary Blue Badge Guides, ensuring an informative and entertaining experience. They truly are the best of the best.
No matter where we visit, we do so with intention and awareness. Travel can empower local communities and protect the natural environments we adore. We look forward to sharing more about our local partners in the future.
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Tour days tend to be shorter in length, at a relaxed pace, and include lots of unscheduled time for leisure. Expect standing and walking for extended periods of time on flat surfaces, mostly low altitudes, and consistent temperatures.
Tour days usually move at a leisurely pace. Some days’ scheduled activities last longer than others. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on occasionally uneven terrain. You may experience changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a consistent pace, and may include long travel days. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on uneven surfaces. Some destinations may have changes in altitude and/or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a brisk pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on uneven surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a vigorous pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on rough surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.