Revealed America, creator of custom, luxury trips to national parks in the Western U.S. and Canada and Alaska, is looking east.
Founder Marty Behr says his first foray across the Mississippi River will be to New England, with destinations including Maine's Acadia National Park, the White and Green Mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, and coastal areas.
The company will offer expert guides for hiking, fall color viewings, sailing, kayaking and a "whole variety of activities," he said. Boston and Portland, Maine will be included in the itineraries, to be announced in May.
The expansion comes as all travelers - upscale and luxury ones in particular - increasingly look for exclusive, highly personalized itineraries focused on authentic destinations.
Revealed America's seed was planted more than seven years ago, after Behr had sold his business, Alaska Unusual, to Entre Destinations and moved to California with plans to retire.
Those plans changed when he began visiting the National Parks in 2010, initially because of personal interest, and then to do research for a new business after several Virtuoso travel agent friends told him, "it's an area that everyone knows exists, but no one knows how to plan upscale travel trips in these parks.
"I thought it was too obvious an idea," Behr said. "But I was convinced after a few months that there really was a need for upscale travel planning and execution. I think that's proven to be the case. We've seen substantial growth."
Behr said he spent about half of both 2010 and 2011 traveling to parks and finding the best hotels, glamping operators and private home rental options while also getting to know the local experts and guides and discovering activities and sights beyond those that draw the crowds.
Itineraries include everything from what he calls "flying safaris" that can whisk clients from park to park via private plane to self-driving tours or those with full- or part-time drivers and guides.
Accommodations include properties like the Amangani and the Four Seasons in Jackson, Wyoming, luxury home and condominium rentals and smaller glamping operators like Paws Up.
"The real secret of our success has been private guides," he said. "We don't just book accommodations. But that doesn't mean you have to have private guides every day."
A good example of the value of their service, he said, is the Grand Canyon, where most people gather in the five miles around the rim.
"The value of being with our guides is that not only can they interpret the flora and fauna, but they will take you away from the crowds to points that are virtually untraveled," Behr said. "We even have a couple of areas that our guides have special access to."
He also employs travel specialists across the West to personally vet the destinations, properties and guides. In addition to finding hidden luxury properties and activities, he said, they have the expertise to add things to itineraries like where to stop on your drive through the Southwest for the best Navajo taco.
Revealed America also helps plan trips beyond the National Parks, working with companies like Ted Turner Expeditions, which offers luxury accommodations and a host of outdoor activities across the more than 1 million acres that make up the billionaire conservationist's three New Mexico ranches, and private fishing camps in Alaska that can only be reached by sea plane.
Although the company will work directly with consumers, Behr says more than 90% of his clients are sourced through travel consultants and tour operators. Generally, he said, travel consultant commissions are 10% but can be higher for more complex and larger bookings.