I’d love to say that All Roads North was a natural progression from what came before, a culmination of many years spent admiring America and exploring its every corner. But it wouldn’t be true. I was dragged here kicking and screaming.
In my mind, America was not ‘different’ enough. I envisaged a Hollywood-esque world, a place lacking an interesting culture, where the cities were modern and ugly. So when I found myself getting off a plane at Boston’s Logan Airport one cold February morning, my worst fears had seemingly been realized.
The first of many wake up calls came with a trip from Boston to New Orleans. That two such different cities, both with their own rich histories and cultures, could be part of the same country made me think again.
As I began to travel further afield I found myself in the ultimate adventurer’s playground; words like wilderness and backcountry started to have real meaning. I met fishing guides, park rangers and old school outdoorsmen that showed me that a certain pride in nature and spirit of adventure that is sadly dying in many countries, is alive and well here.
As I started to talk to friends about all of these things, I realized that I wasn’t alone in having discounted America. Many had traveled the world yet had barely set foot in the United States.
Travel companies weren’t helping the cause either. When the U.S. was even a feature of their offering it was as an afterthought; the same well-trodden places popped up again and again, as did the same handful of hotels. It was easy to find group tours but tailor-made journeys for upscale independent travelers were missing.
So for the next year I traveled the country in earnest, covering tens of thousands of miles, taking the backroads, meeting guides, talking to locals. I’d often camp in national parks along the way, dusting myself off in the morning, putting on a clean shirt and my one pair of vaguely smart shoes, before meeting the team at some of the country’s finest hotels and ranches.
I want to show people what I have found, to create a collection of the most unexpected, authentic journeys this country had to offer. In a time when everyone is looking for their own unique experience and their own kind of adventure, America has so much more to offer than the modern pop-culture image might suggest.
It was these travels that also helped to shape our ethos, the idea of ‘unpretentious luxury’, which lies at the heart of everything we do. We are not simply looking for the right names or the most exclusive resorts. We want to create tailor-made experiences, unique to each customer. Perhaps that’s a stay in one of the most indulgent hotels in the United States, but it could just as easily be a remote log cabin in a secluded National Park.
From the start we felt it was key to work directly with hotels, guides and the host of other people that make a trip unique. We’ve been told this is ‘not how it’s done’ but to us this is nothing more than common sense, after all how can you recommend something that you don’t know? We keep things simple and personal because it’s better for our clients.
From these small beginnings, it was a fantastic honor to be recently recognized alongside some of the leading travel experts in the world as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialists 2020.
Our team is based in Venice, California, and we’re looking forward to creating new experiences in 2020 and beyond.