High-end operators continue to plan with Covid in mind

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

With the Covid-19 pandemic expected to impact travel habits throughout 2021, luxury tour operators continue rolling out new options for closer-to-home and private travel.

Among the latest entries: more domestic itineraries from luxury cycling tour operator DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. and private tours of the Galapagos by Metropolitan Touring.

While DuVine has always offered tours in the U.S., founder Andy Levine said the company is responding to the pandemic by doubling its domestic bike tours and introducing private villa packages.

The new itineraries include three, four and six-night trips in the Shenandoah Valley, Maine, Vermont and the Hudson Valley, as well as two new Maui trips  and a backcountry ski tour in Aspen. Accommodations include luxury mainstays like the five-star, five-diamond  Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., and Glen Gordon Manor, a bed and breakfast in the heart of Virginia's horse country.

In the Galapagos, Metropolitan Touring is offering its first option for completely private and small group land tours, which include private guides, outdoor dining experiences and chartered yachts and private flights between islands.

The trips start in Quito with a night at Casa Gangotena, a restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco in the heart of historic Old Town.

The island-hopping begins with three nights on Isabela Island at the safari-style, 16-tent Scalesia Lodge. From there, expert guides will lead private excursions to remote regions inaccessible to cruise ships, including the rim of the active Sierra Negra Volcano and the Tintoreras Islets, known for its population of white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins.

Guests then travel by private plane to Santa Cruz for four nights at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel,  the only beachfront property on the island. Excursions include private yacht charters to neighboring islands, kayaking through remote bays and walks through the Santa Cruz highlands, home to the area's lumbering giant tortoise.

The Galapagos packages start $11,148 for two and $5,350 per person for groups of six to nine, not including flights between Quito and the Galapagos or the overnight in Quito.

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