6 months ago
For some, “luxury travel” simply means unfettered access to the best sights, top accommodations, highest-quality cuisine—the places around the globe not everybody gets to go to in their lifetime.
But aside from shuffling around your jet’s first-class cabin with a champagne flute in hand or walking around museums and UNESCO World Heritage sites, they aren’t that physical.
That’s where luxury travel company Butterfield & Robinson rides to the rescue. Founded by Canadian businessman George Butterfield and his future wife, Martha (née Robinson), and her brother in 1966—after taking students on a biking trip of Europe—the business has expanded to include 100 trips worldwide. B&R curates multi-stop travel packages that center on getting your heart-rate up: hiking, biking, and walking.
Sure, you can also reserve boat trips, culinary tours, and safaris, too, but RealClearLife wanted to seek out the athletic side of luxury travel. And man, did we work up a sweat.
To that end, we chose to spotlight B&R’s adventure that takes guests on a whirlwind eight-day adventure in exotic Sri Lanka via bicycle.
Now, a small caveat: While you can buy into this fantastic journey this year—due to overwhelming popularity the first available slot isn’t until January 15, 2018. “For many of our travelers who have an interest in Asia and may have already done Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, it’s the next frontier,” Dane Tredway, B&R’s Sri Lanka trip designer, tells RealClearLife.
But that eight or so months between will give you ample time to hit that Peloton bike that’s been sitting in your entertainment room for necessary training.
Just what will clients be offered on the Sri Lanka trip? Tredway tells us a little bit of everything. “I wanted to show as much variety as possible, exposing the groups to Sri Lanka’s myriad ethnicities (Sinhalese, Tamil, Dutch Burgher, Moor), landscapes, and periods in history (from ancient kingdoms, to colonial rule and a nearly 30-year civil war),” says Tredway. “I included everything from UNESCO World Heritage sites, to traditional Kandyan drummers, a behind-the-scenes tea factory tour, riverboat excursion, and an egg hopper cooking class.”
B&R’s Sri Lanka adventure can be accomplished as a group ($8,995/person), privately ($9,495+/person), or via a bespoke option (a trip tailor-made to your own needs). Caveat No. 2: Daily mileage totals are anywhere from 20-30 miles, so it’s not for novices. But the terrain is fairly easy, save for a few uphill days (Tredway tells us the Hill Country leg of the adventure can get pretty strenuous; see below).
Below, take a look at some of the highlights of the adventure.
Days 1-2: Kicking things off in Colombo, the historic port city and capital of Sri Lanka, you’ll get a lay of the land, starting with a tour of the morning markets along the coast. You’ll bike to “Little Rome” (a coastal area with a confluence of Catholic churches). You’ll then pedal off to the rather hilly Kingdom of Kandy, where you’ll get a front-row seat at a private traditional Kandyan dance performance and dinner in a tropical garden. All of the entertainment takes place at the site of your accommodations for the night: The Kandy House, an ancestral manor house built in 1804. You’ll also get to tour the Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya, a suburb of Kandy.
Days 3-5: After the first few days of warmup, you’ll be headed into Hill Country (i.e. the more hilly part of the trip). You’ll take an early-morning trek to Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Sacred Temple of the Tooth (see above), so named because the holy site is said to house one of the Buddha’s actual pearly whites. During this three-day leg of the trip, you’ll also hoist your bike onto a train and take a 2.5-hour trip that is known as one of the most scenic in the world. You get a specially made picnic onboard to savor until the destination of Hatton, where you’ll stay at the luxury bungalows of Tea Trails. Here, bikers will be all but surrounded by the tea estates that make island nation famous. If you’re lucky enough to get here on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the 7,360-foot Sri Pada or “Adam’s Peak,” one of the holiest locations in all of Sri Lanka. With immersion in mind, guests also have lunch with a former tea planter and get a private tour of the Dunkeld Tea Factory.
Days 6-8: While the final leg starts with a bit of uphill pedaling through the green-for-miles tea estates—where guests get to meet current-day tea farmers—it’s almost all downhill from here. The southerly jaunt goes past Horton Plains National Park to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort, a coastal outpost built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. (A former war journalist and expert in its history gives you a guided tour of the grounds.) The true terminus of the eight-day adventure, though, is Koggala Lake, where guests will actually be able to ditch their bikes and jump right in for a cool-down.
The following day, you’ll find yourself back in Colombo before shipping back to reality. Of course, B&R could also set you up with a private trip planner to extend your getaway …