Imagine a trip to Morocco where travelers helicopter from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert where a private desert camp awaits, complete with staff. After awakening with the sunrise, guests board their helicopter and are whisked off to the Skoura Valley for a private picnic lunch under olive trees.
This private, luxury experience is just one example of the type of customized tours that Blue Parallel offers its clients. The U.S.-based travel boutique is expanding its offerings after 10 years solely offering tours in Latin America, adding the Mediterranean to its roster with five destinations: Corsica, Morocco, Turkey, Greece and Andalucia, Spain.
“It took me 10 years to create the footprint that I really feel comfortable with in Latin America. There are so many things going on in the region where we are already operating that we need to travel there on a regular basis so we can be on top of the destinations,” says Emmanuel Burgio, the president of Blue Parallel.
Burgio noticed a trend in clients who have been to five or six destinations within Latin America with Blue Parallel and who wanted new destinations. “The demand dictated the supply, but we need to have a certain structure in place,” he says.
Burgio, who grew up in the South of France, says that the company is coming full circle, bringing its product to the Mediterranean Basin and starting with five destinations, all linked with some type of educational component, historical significance and outdoor activities.
“We’ve been focusing up to now on Latin America, the natural and cultural wonders of Latin America (UNESCO World Heritage sites), catering to the luxury travelers; it’s very high-end. The common theme of all our trips is that we combine the notions of adventure, outdoor activities, explorations with luxury and insider access,” he says.
Part of the appeal of this insider access is opening doors that aren’t usually open and catering to clients’ needs. For example, private access to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, or exclusive access to the dome of La Compañia de Jesus to get a complete view of Cusco in Peru.
“Our clients are the opposite of cruise passengers; they don’t want to stand in line or be surrounded by people,” Burgio says.
In addition to insider access and meticulously planned transportation and accommodations, Blue Parallel ensures that its clients’ experiences will be consistent throughout the regions they travel, maintaining high levels of service with great amenities and accommodations. Every trip features onsite Blue Parallel staff, such as guides and drivers, who act as the main points of contacts and who even stay on the property, assisting with clients’ every need.
“In many cases in Latin America, what happens is that we fall in love with certain properties because of the view, the location, the amenities, but what’s lacking is the service,” Burgio says. Blue Parallel, therefore, becomes a one-stop shop for agents having teams on the ground who are experts in what they do. “From an agency point of view, working with us is an advantage because we have a footprint throughout these regions,” he says. “Agents get the best of both worlds: an American company, but with a local presence.”
Blue Parallel offers agents 12 percent commission, except for the Galapagos Islands and villa rentals, where it offers 10 percent commission.
Sample rates for an 8-day stay in Morocco range from $19,500 to $21,500 pp for a private party of two. For more information, visit blueparallel.com.
Reporting by Paloma Villaverde de Rico.