Published by Forbes
Written By Larry Olmstead
Biking Tuscany, Burgundy or Provence With Butterfield & Robinson: If you are into cycling, the classic epic “once in a lifetime” destinations are these three regions in Italy and France, with Tuscany leading the way. Butterfield & Robinson isn’t just the 5-star standard for guided cycling trips, they invented the entire category back in 1966, and for more than half century have been improving the model. From expert guides to VIP experiences along the way (visits to top wineries not open to the public, private museum tours, etc.) to carefully pre-checking routes that have been selected for maximum enjoyment and minimum traffic to make sure there are no changes or last-minute construction, they have the logistic dialled in. But most importantly, because they have been doing these tours in the most popular destinations longer than anyone else, they get the block of rooms reserved at the best hotels when no one else can. This is especially important in places like Tuscany where they might take every accommodation in a luxury boutique hotel because they have been doing this with the same owner for decades. From the minute you arrive to the last day, everything is taken care of, the best lodging, best meals, luggage seamlessly disappears from your room in the morning and is in your room at the next hotel when you arrive.
I’ve done several trips with B&R around the world including two of these classics, Tuscany and Burgundy, and they are both among my fondest memories. But if you are into cycling and have already knocked these spots off, there are myriad other standouts—Japan was exceptional, the Basque region of Spain is wonderful, they offer Ireland, another popular trip, the coast of Portugal, the Loire Valley and many more. These are all places that have regularly scheduled group departures, so you can just sign onto a planned trip, but more than half of B&R’s business is privates. If you want to spend the extra money, you can do any of these (and some places that don’t have group trips) whenever you want and with just your group. Either way, for those who love cycling, these are the trips of a lifetime, and it was founder George Butterfield who coined the very accurate expression, “Slow Down to See the World.”