From Call of the Wild to Arabian Nights, Black Tomato’s ‘Take me on a Story’ is a collection of five immersive travel itineraries inspired by legendary children’s books. Olivia Palamountain reports
Luxury travel company Black Tomato is renowned for delivering imaginative, private travel experiences and its latest offering is no exception. “Take me on a Story” brings famous children’s stories to life with a blend of interactive experiences set in the destinations that echo iconic tales such as Alice in Wonderland, Arabian Nights and Treasure Island.
Full of wonder and intrigue, these itineraries have been designed to spark curiosity and bond adventure-deprived families through extraordinary experiences, whether it’s playing croquet during a Mad Hatter’s tea party (no prizes for guessing which book inspired that one) or learning survival skills and dog-mushing, Call of the Wild-style in Alaska.
Spanning Oxfordshire to Iceland, each journey includes a photographer to capture a seminal moment of a client’s choosing to commemorate the adventure.
Black Tomato has witnessed a huge appetite for multi-generational travel among its clients recently, with a 70 per ceent increase in bookings over the past two months and a 55 per cent increase in average spend per family.
Globetrender founder and editor, Jenny Southan, saw this coming. In a deep-dive into the future of family travel during the pandemic, she predicted that Reunion Vacations with grandparents – who will hopefully have been recently vaccinated – and other relatives will be a big trend this year. Creativity, education and the outdoors were also said to be key.“I think there will be an emphasis on using travel to help supplement children’s education, which has been compromised during the pandemic, but vacations will also rightly be about having fun, embracing freedom, socialising and seeing new things because their lives have been limited for so many months,” Southan writes.
She adds: “Parents will be being forced to be more creative in their holiday planning as previously reliable, crowd-pleasing options such as Disneyland are off the menu.
“We will see a lot of time being spent on beaches and in woodland – a return to nature and simplicity. Families will be surfing, swimming, building campfires, doing bushcraft, canoeing, hiring canal boats, staying at county house hotels, cycling and hiking.”While families can’t fully enjoy the freedom of travelling the globe just yet, the experts at Black Tomato are poised to welcome bespoke requests for story-inspired trips, asking clients to “dream big, so we can make these dreams a reality”.
Black Tomato co-founder, Tom Marchant, says: “We cast our eyes to the enchanting world of classic children’s literature to stir creativity, instill enticing learning opportunities and capture the imagination of children of all ages by harnessing the transformative nature of travel.
“After the hardships of last year, being able to transport both children and adults into these rich, whimsical worlds feels like the ultimate joyful way to reconnect with family and welcome back the magic of travel.
“As a father myself and following the journeys of many clients that have grown with us over the years, it’s a personal delight to see these stories come to life. This is a collection we will continue to grow by inviting clients to shape our offerings with their favourite books that can inspire their family travels.
“We believe these trips will not only provide an engaging, experiential platform for education, but importantly inspire wanderlust and excitement, in the build-up to travel.”
‘Take Me on a Story’ itineraries…
1. Take me on a Story to Oxfordshire: A trip inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Families will tumble down the rabbit hole at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in the UK, for a deep-dive into Lewis Carroll’s classic. Children will get to co-design a costume with a leading Cotswolds atelier then play croquet on the lawn during a tea party.
Activities will also include foraging in the forest, discovering how ordinary flora can be transformed into extraordinary products, and a river cruise retracing the famed “golden afternoon”, brought to life by an Oxford historian.
From £8,250 per person for five nights staying at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
2. Take me on Story to Alaska: A trip inspired by Call of the Wild
Voyage into the Alaskan wilderness for an epic journey to experience the pioneering sense of adventure that inspired Jack London’s Call of the Wild.
Families will get to navigate glaciers by raft and pan for gold with historians, travel by helicopter and floatplanes to remote luxury lodges and cabins, and embrace Buck’s audacious spirit with expert-led learning experiences that include cultivating survival and outdoors skills via ice climbing, rappelling and dog-mushing.
The importance of conservation from interactive encounters with wildlife and learning the art of storytelling with a prospector-style campfire dinner are further highlights.
From £28,000 per person for nine nights staying at Sheldon Chalet, Winterlake Lodge and Hotel Alyeska, excluding flights.
3. Take me on a Story to Morocco: A trip inspired by Arabian Nights
On this treasure hunt inspired by Arabian Nights, families will venture through desert oases on camelback and 4x4s, explore ancient souks with soothsayers and discover dramatic landscapes from the High Atlas Mountains to the narrow streets of Ait Ben Haddou.
A guide will help families try pottery-making and hone their problem-solving skills at a Quranic school. Further highlights include learning astronomy while sleeping on a magic carpet under the stars in the Sahara and experiencing a “royal palace dinner” and pampering at La Sultana luxury riad.
From £3,500 per person for six nights staying at Kasbah Azul, Azalai Desert Lodge, Riad Caravane and La Sultana, excluding flights.
4. Take me on Story to Iceland: A trip inspired by Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Families will chart the course of Jules Verne’s classic in Iceland, climbing dormant volcanoes, sailing across glacial lagoons and swimming between the Earth’s tectonic plates. Accompanied throughout by an expert guide, Hans, families will follow a specially curated map to decipher clues in otherworldly settings such as lava caves, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Jökulsárlón glacier and the Silfra Fissure.
From £5,375 per person for six nights staying at Hotel Húsafell, Sandhotel, Hotel Kria and Torfhus, excluding flights.
5. Take me on Story to the British Virgin Islands: A trip inspired by Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1882 classic is brought to life in the Caribbean where families will be able to go on underwater treasure hunts, take a private catamaran charter to the Dog Islands, and attend a stargazing bonfire to hear how both sailors and pirates navigate the seas.
Learning the tricks of survival Ben Gunn style, experiences will include: pirate school with sword fighting lessons and (non-alcoholic) rum-making; and sailing lessons and a private day charter to uninhabited islands, followed by a cooking class at Rosewood Little Dix Bay on the resort’s sustainable farm.
From £5,500 per person for seven nights staying at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, excluding flights.