Once upon a time, Westport was an artists’ colony. Then we were “the marketing capital of the world.”
Less well known — but also true — is our role in the travel industry. In 1925, Arthur Tauck invented the modern tour model. The Taucks are longtime Westporters; for many years Tauck Tours (now Tauck World Discovery) was headquartered in town.
In 1958, international explorer Lars-Eric Lindblad set up shop here. Lindblad Travel offered trips to then-exotic locales like the Galapagos Islands, Africa and Antarctica.
Westport is also home to Susan Farewell. A veteran travel writer — she spent 10 years as travel editor for Bride’s magazine, and also contributed to Travel + Leisure, Gourmet and many other publications — she branched out 4 years ago onto the web.
FarewellTravels.com carries her own stories, and those of high-profile journalists, on a variety of topics.
As these things do, it spurred a sideline. Readers often asked Susan to help with their own travel plans. A couple of years ago, she realized she could turn her knowledge and advice into a business of its own.
“With the internet, people can now make their own travel arrangements,” Susan says. ”But there’s so much information out there, they can feel overwhelmed.”
Though Susan is a travel agent — she’s got all the certifications — that’s not how she describes herself. Her niche is her ability to drill down past booking airline tickets and hotel rooms.
“I think I bring more of an editorial sense to travel,” she says. “It’s a more hand-crafted approach.”
Thanks to her contacts, Susan connects clients with the best guides in a city. She suggests off-the-beaten-track galleries and restaurants, and steers travelers to places they might never think of going.
As a travel writer, Susan always got the guides and drivers who were assigned to heads of state, rock stars and other celebrities. She developed connections with the most interesting hotels, and discovered the best bakeries around the world.
“Westporters are very sophisticated travelers,” she says. “They’ve studied abroad, lived or worked abroad. They speak different languages. They want more than basic advice.”
Susan adds, “You can’t just pull that out of a hat. There’s a lot of roll-up-your-sleeves work. What’s the best restaurant on the road to Bilbao for lunch? It’s all about the nuts and bolts of each destination.”
Recently, she arranged for a honeymoon couple to “find” Champagne that had been planted at a secret spot in Iceland. She also organized a private picnic, courtesy of a noted chef.
On the way to safaris — a specialty — she plans wine tastings in South African vineyards.
Organizing travel is high-stress. It’s not for everyone — particularly busy Westporters who already have plenty on their non-travel plates.
That’s why — before traveling — you should say not “au revoir.” Try “farewell.”
As in, Susan Farewell.