LOCKPORT, Ill. -- Singles Travel International, a group touring
outfit that caters to middle-aged, single adults, introduced a
motorcoach tour of Michigan's wine country.
The all-inclusive, four-night trip departs Chicago on June 26.
The cost, which starts at $998, includes luxury accommodations, six
meals, three wine tastings, a cream sherry tasting and a champagne
and wine reception.
The trip starts with visits to two southeast Michigan wineries:
Karma Vista in Colmar, and Fenn Valley, south of Holland, which is
a Dutch-influenced village and summer resort on the shores of Lake
In Holland, the group will spend an hour and a half touring
Windmill Island, where they'll stop at the Posthouse museum, be
entertained by Dutch dancers and learn how wooden shoes are
From Holland, the motorcoach will head inland to Mount Pleasant,
where guests will spend two nights at the new, 512-room Soaring
Eagle Resort & Casino, Michigan's only Four Diamond Resort
The hotel is motorcoach-friendly and offers packages for
motorcoach groups on its Web site at www.soaringeaglecasino.com. Phone: (877) 232-4532.
From Mount Pleasant, the group travels to Frankenmuth, a
Bavarian-style village where they'll be treated to lunch, a cream
sherry tasting at St. Julien and a visit to Bronners, "the world's
largest Christmas store."
Bronners, a 50-year-old, family-run business that said it brings
in 2 million visitors a year, features 400 styles of Nativity
scenes, 6,000 different types of glass ornaments and decorations
and gifts from 70 nations. The store's wholesale division sells to
900 other stores. Items can be purchased on the Web at www.bronners.com.
Directly north from Mount Pleasant, at Mackinac City in the
southeastern part of the state's Upper Peninsula, the group boards
a high-speed catamaran that takes them to one of Michigan's most
popular tourist spots, Mackinac Island, located in the Straits of
Mackinac connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
Horse-drawn carriages meet the guests at the dock and take them to
the Grand Hotel, the centerpiece of the island.
Built in 1887, the hotel is a member of the National Trust's
Historic Hotels of America. According to the hotel's Web site
(www.grandhotel.com), each of its 385 rooms is decorated in its own
unique style and character.
Mackinac Island constitutes a wrinkle in time. Cars were banned
there in the 1890s, and horse-drawn carriage is the chief mode of
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours lays claim to being the oldest
operating horse-and-buggy touring operation in the country. Its
origins can be traced to 1869, when Irish carriagemen began
conducting tours of the island. Their descendants still manage the
company. Narrated carriage tours begin in the center of Main Street
and stop at points of interest. For information, call (906)
847-3307 or visit www.mict.com.
A private carriage ride, followed by lunch and a free afternoon
to explore the island, precedes an evening in the Cupola at the top
of the hotel, beginning with a wine and champagne reception and
ending with dinner and dancing. Dress code is jacket and tie for
gentlemen and dress for ladies.
The last stop on the itinerary is Traverse City, a short ride
from Mackinac City. Travel is interrupted by a wine-tasting lunch
at Black Star Farms, a family-owned winery, creamery and horse farm
on Leelanau Peninsula just west of Traverse City (www.blackstarfarms.com).
Overnight is at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. With 660
rooms, suites and condos, a 100,000-square-foot spa complex and
three championship golf courses, the resort is the area's largest
lodging property. Phone: (800) 236-1577; Web: www.grandtraverseresort.com.
The return route follows Lake Michigan via Saugatuck, where
guests will stop for optional lunch and shopping.
For more information, call (877) 765-6874 or visit www.singlestravelintl.com.
To contact Destinations Editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to
What agents should know about selling singles
LOCKPORT, Ill. -- There are two things Singles Travel
International's founder, Tammy Weiler, wants agents to know about
First, that it's here. "Lots of travel agencies have found out
about us, but we can't afford to advertise," Weiler said of the
10-year-old outfit, which pays agents 11% commission.
Second, the tours are for singles only, but Singles Travel is
not a matchmaking enterprise.
"There are a lot of matchmaking groups out there," she said.
"This is different; it's all about travel."
Weiler maintains that her tours -- which she said are upscale,
attract 40- to 65-year-old professionals and number 20 to 60 people
-- is exclusive in that it brings together people who want to
travel but don't want to do it alone.
"As far as I know, we are the only ones catering to singles in
that age range," she said.
"The tours are heterosexual," she said. "Sometimes we have more
women, sometimes a nice mix," Weiler said. "If I knew how to create
a nice mix [every time], I'd be a millionaire."
Some clients come in preformed small groups, but at least half
come alone, she said.
"They don't know anybody," Weiler said. "We're really good at
assimilating them into the group" -- if that's what they want.
"Most of our people are single or recently widowed, and this is
a hard thing for them. We do a good job of caring for them. We meet
with them every day, and we have opportunities for them to be
together, if they are so inclined."
Weiler said her clients tend to be repeat travelers. "We have a
lot of repeat clients who come alone at first, meet others, and
then meet up again [on our tours]," she said.
Some, she added, rediscover someone that they had met previously
on another kind of tour.
"Now you've got a traveling buddy, which helps people with the
single supplement," she said. Singles Travel has a roommate
"That takes the pressure off people who are willing to room with
somebody else," she said.
Many of her clients network with each other and move on to
travel together on cruises and other types of trips usually
associated with couples, Weiler said, thereby getting around the
singles supplement and the distaste for traveling alone.
"It's purely about companionship," she said. --