Now that Austin Adventures is a standalone company again, owner Dan Austin has been busy building products and strategic partnerships to expand the market.
As part of those efforts, Austin this week announced the launch of the Austin Collection, a carefully selected "handful of extraordinary, all-inclusive accommodations in world-class settings ranging from Alaska to Peru."
The collection was unveiled with eight properties, although Austin said he intends to slowly build the portfolio with about one or two additions each year.
Although the Austin Collection is not a "collection" in the sense that the members pay to be included or contribute marketing fees. Rather, said spokesman Dave Wiggins, it's a simple arrangement where Austin Adventures gets a wholesale-style commission for bookings, while the individual properties get additional exposure online and in the Austin Adventures catalog.
The public can call direct and book a stay at any of these properties for the same rate they would get through Austin Adventures. But booking through Austin Adventures gives them personal attention, future-trip benefits and promotions and all the perks of being an Austin Adventures alumni, the company said. It said it will also honor travel agent involvement and bookings.
In a press release, Austin said he and his wife drew on their nearly 40 years of hosting experiences to select the properties in the collection, which he said he expects will grow by about one or two a year.
"Carol and I have a symbiotic relationship with the style of properties our clients enjoy," he said. "Time and again trip alumni ask us for referrals to our favorite accommodations. Our clients trust our judgement to recommend properties we have personally vetted and grown to trust."
To qualify, the properties must be in remote or isolated locations; have chef-prepared fresh and locally sourced foods and wines; keep the highest standards of housekeeping, service and maintenance; offer destination-specific outdoor recreation and immersion in local cultures and traditions; and have a rare feeling of exclusivity with VIP pampering, services and experiences.
The initial selection of properties are the Sheldon Chalet in Denali National Park, Alaska; Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona; The Resort at Paws Up, Montana; the Chilko Experience and Nimmmo Bay Wilderness Resort in British Columbia; Explora Atacama, Chile; and Explora Valle Sagrado and Hotel Sol y Luna in Peru.
Austin Adventures said it will inaugurate the hotel division with an all-inclusive escape to one of the most exclusive family-owned properties in the Pacific Northwest, the Chilko Experience. The trip, from Sept. 21 to 25, will coincide with peak grizzly bear-viewing. Austin and his wife Carol will host the trip, which can accommodate up to eight guests. The rate is $3,998 per person, double.
Wiggins said the company currently has no further plans to expand into general hotel or resort bookings beyond the collection. But the company has been busy since buying itself back from Xanterra last year, following a 2013 acquisition.
One of the first things the company did this year was build a strategic relationship with the Life Is Good apparel and lifestyle company on a series of co-branded transformational trips. Next year they plan to expand their Life is Good programs into Bali, Wiggins said.
Additionally, he said, the 2019 catalog is due out Aug. 1 and will include an expanded category of small ship cruises, national park adventures, and special Dan & Carol Austin-hosted retreats at many of the Austin Collection properties.