Jamaican-born Aeon Cummings, founder of Connecticut-based Otaheti Travel, aims to deliver the "all" in his curated, all-inclusive tour offerings.
The new tour operation is named after the otaheite, (the spelling varies a bit from the company name) a pear-shaped, deep crimson Jamaican apple and a favorite fruit of Cummings.
"My brother and I have traveled for years," he said. "We've stayed at all-inclusive resorts, but we wanted to get back to exploring Jamaica as we did when we were growing up. We knew that there are travelers who want immersive, customized tours that explore the hidden tourism gems on the island, including local artists, chefs, musicians, farmers as well as some of the lesser-known attractions."
Although the company officially launched earlier this month, Cummings plans to wait until late summer or early fall to offer his tailor-made programs, "and then we'll ratchet up for the winter season. Nobody wants to quarantine now, anyway."
Jamaica's current Covid protocols do not mandate a quarantine period for visitors, but travelers are restricted to the Resilient Corridors on the north and south coasts, and they must stay in Covid-19 Protocol Compliant Approved accommodations.
"We want to deliver awareness experiences for our clients by using many of the people we know on the island," Cummings said. "A local artist, for example, might be the official driver on a trip, taking travelers off the beaten path to get an understanding of local culture.
"We'll stop at jerk shacks as part of one itinerary and learn how to cook Jamaican food, visit small galleries with resident artists on another or hike mountains on a third," he said.
He has high on praise for travel advisors and plans to work with them, offering incentives and a 15% commission.
Although there no set prices for his programs, as they all will differ from another, depending upon the clients' "dreams," as he says; three price levels of silver, gold and platinum will range from approximately $2,500 to $4,000 per person, including air, high-end accommodations in villas and boutique properties, all meals, excursions and the services of a local guide and driver.
"I like the time frame of five to seven nights with a group of six to eight people who know one another. We're open to taking kids along who are used to traveling," Cummings said.
The itineraries will focus on specific locations, locals and experiences on the north coast or the southeast and southwest coasts.
The Kingston and St. Andrew Parish itinerary is geared primarily to arts and culture aficionados.
Experiences fall into four groups of client interests, focused on arts and culture, adventure, foodie tours and wellness. A fifth experience, labeled corporate training and development, focuses on team building activities, retreats and conferences.
Travelers will visit Jamaican jerk centers during their visit.
"Our Otaheti Ambassadors will show our guests a good time. If our guests tell them what they want to do, they will curate it," he said.
The goal is to provide trips that enrich people's lives and create lifelong memories, using the vast pool of talented underutilized human capital in a sustainable, responsible way, according to Cummings.
"We won't compromise on the quality of any trip," he said.