A luxe vacation on two wheels

Ride & Seek's Iron Curtain Berlin to Budapest cycling trip features Austria's Wachau Valley in the fall.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As luxury travelers look for active experiences, cycling-focused tour operators have responded with a host of options for travelers at all fitness levels.

The U.K.-based boutique cycling holiday specialist the Carter Company recently launched an electric-bike tour of Cornwall that enables even novice riders to tackle the steep climbs and daily distances of 20 to 30 miles along Cornwall's south coast.

The luxury itinerary, priced at $3,589 per person, includes accommodations at four- and five-star boutique properties, the bike rental and a local host.

Carter Company founder Wendy Carter says the trip, which  includes stops in tiny harbor villages across the Lizard Peninsula, is aimed at U.S. travelers, "who demand a quality of accommodation that is far above the standard bed-and-breakfast or basic hotels provided by most bike tour companies to keep prices low.

"The hotel partners we have chosen provide outstanding accommodation that is distinctive to this wonderful region," she said.

Carter said demand from Americans continues to grow, with bookings up a third this year compared to 2017.  They have increased by 75% compared with 2016 and by 200% compared with 2015, the company said.

"We are finding that more people are tired of city or beach holidays, and they want to get under the skin of an area and enjoy the sense of exploring and discovering for themselves, but still have the support of local experts providing route recommendations, luggage transfers and emergency support," Carter said.

Other luxury bike operators are also seeing growing demand for their products. This year, DuVine, a cycling and adventure company, added additional luxury culinary tours and destinations in South Africa, Israel and Japan.

Among its offerings are trips led by chef Seamus Mullen this October in the Tuscany region and in South Africa next March. Prices start at $6,295 per person.

For the Tuscany trip, guests stay in a villa with amenities such as a private chef, concierge services and guided cycling, and activities ranging from wine tastings and truffle hunts to in-house massages and hiking.

Ride & Seek, which offers luxury bike tours with historical-, cultural- and culinary-focused itineraries, has announced a nearly 1,000-mile "Iron Curtain" cycling trip, from Berlin to Budapest.

The tour, said Ride & Seek founder Dylan Reynolds, "crosses the divide between communism and democratic capitalism."

"The history on the tour is still palpable, and it is unlike our other historic cycling adventures in that the collapse of the Iron Curtain was witnessed real-time by the majority of our guests."

The trip begins in Berlin, then travels south through Western Europe and what was once part of the Soviet Union. It starts Aug. 18 and is offered in two stages: Berlin to Prague over eight days and Prague to Budapest over 11 days. Pricing starts at $8,318 per person.

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