Archipelago Choice – Who are we?
As far as we aware, we’re the only travel company in the world to specialise in the Portuguese speaking islands of the Atlantic – for the uninitiated, these are the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and Sao Tome. Our holidays are bespoke, personal, and designed around our experience over the past 25 years of traveling and exploring these unique island archipelagos.
Why should you travel with us?
We’re a family-run, independent travel company with full ATOL financial protection (so your money is always safe). But more importantly, we look after people. We look after you from your first enquiry right through to your return home. We look after our staff, who are like part of the family, and we look after our suppliers because many have been with us on this long journey and are like old friends.
The internet is full of promises, many overplayed and often underdelivered. Our promise to you is we’ll listen, plan and deliver a rewarding and memorable holiday. Building trust is about listening to your requirements and delivering excellent customer experience – if you feel this isn’t happening at any time, then please email me at: email@example.com
Like many start-ups, Sarah and I worked from the spare room at home with some second-hand office equipment, a couple of personal computers, and commuted into London for our paid jobs. In the first 12 months 68 people trusted us with their Azores holiday plans and we made a small profit. Since then we have grown organically into the world’s leading travel specialist to the Portuguese speaking archipelagos of the Atlantic. There have been many upsets along the way – September 11th, Financial crash, Icelandic volcanoes and, most recently, COVID. We’ve survived each of these and came out stronger each time, which is testament to all the people who work for us and everyone who has put their trust in us for their travel plans.
The team – Who’s going to be looking after you?
Jake – Having spent the last 17 years working as part of the Archipelago Choice team I have enjoyed many amazing adventures to both the Azores and Cape Verde islands, and I’m always eager to start planning the next!
Past highlights include taking to the seas in a traditional Azorean whaling boat off the south coast of Sao Miguel in the Azores, and hiking in the Serra da Malagueta natural park on Santiago in Cape Verde. I really enjoy sharing my experiences and drawing from them to create fantastic holiday itineraries and ideas for others to enjoy.
Away from the office my main focus is my young family and my music – I’ve been playing the cello for about 30 years and enjoy performing with several orchestras and ensembles around the Cumbria and Borders region. One trip to the Azores was particularly special because I proposed to my girlfriend… and she said yes! Now we have two lovely small children.
Max – I love to travel and experience landscapes and places through activity and have spent many of my holidays hiking, cycle touring, and mountain biking in Europe and North Africa. Living in Keswick in the Lake District is perfect for me – the human scale of the area makes the place easy to live in and accessible to explore, which I do mainly via mountain bike and on foot. Mountain biking here often involves plenty of walking!
The Atlantic Islands touched by Portugal’s presence are fascinating to explore. It would be easier to call them ‘Portugal’s islands’ but of course both Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe are independent countries. I love their volcanic nature, so obvious for example on Sao Miguel in the Azores where the hot springs of Poca Dona Beja are my favourite place to head to, to get directly in touch with the volcanically-heated waters! Pico mountain is another favourite, its upper crater an amazing place to be awestruck at nature’s power. In Cape Verde it’s impossible to ignore stark and arresting Fogo, a huge stratovolcano, visiting which is one of the highlights of my travel life so far.
Each country, archipelago, island has its own distinct character which I have been lucky enough to have discovered by visiting and touring with locals we work with. You can have this too – exploring in the company of the people we work with on the islands whether Madeira, tropical Sao Tome, the Azores or Cape Verde gives you a much more authentic and in depth experience in a way that scratching the surface by yourself cannot achieve.
My work life has had plenty of variety, the central theme being working with people to understand what they want, and then help them get it, something that helps me when putting together holidays for our clients.
Paul – Paul is the self-confessed Portuguese history buff of the team. Portugal’s significance in world history cannot be understated, but it’s sadly overlooked outside of the country itself.
With our personalised holidays to the mainland, to Madeira and to the Azores we try to give you a feel for where Portugal’s been, where they are now and (hopefully) where the country’s heading in the future – immersing you in Portugal’s rich cultural heritage.
Steve – Growing up in the Lake District I developed a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural environment. I like to get out into the countryside – be it walking, running, cycling, or climbing – and being in Keswick is the perfect playground to enjoy these activities.
Prior to working for Archipelago Choice I spent several years organising bespoke walking holidays around the UK. This was a natural amalgamation of my enjoyment of getting outside and my childhood helping with the family’s holiday cottage lettings business.
The opportunity to come to Archipelago Choice and expand my horizons, both literally and metaphorically, was too good to resist and I look forward to finding out what places like the Azores have to offer and sharing my findings, and my excitement, with you all!
When it’s too wet and cold to get outside (as is often the case in the Lake District) I also enjoy music – specifically playing the bass guitar – and can often be found in the pubs around town performing with, or just listening to, the many enjoyable local bands.
Ian – Travel has always been a big part of my life and the mould was set on my first Cub Scout camp when I was 8 years old. Just 4 miles down the road, if felt like an epic journey into the unknown… and it was; with midnight feasts, jungle treks, and secret raids on islands fortresses! In my late teens, and before we all had a personal computer, I was organising trips around the UK and across Europe for groups of friends, using nothing more than a notepad and photocopier.
I grew up the great-grandson, grandson, and son of a butcher, and life was pretty much mapped out before me. From the age of 14, I was working in my father’s butcher’s shop and there wasn’t much need for an education. But I always knew there was another world beyond this one and through books, magazines, and Private Eye, I found my escape. Throwing off the shackles of expectation I started to travel the world, initially for 6 months, then a year and then for 4 years.
The journey to Archipelago Choice has been full of challenges, danger, adventures, fun, and stories to tell. I’m now married with two children and a company that at times feels like a third. Running your own business, for me, is one of life’s great pleasures. We have a fantastic team and a strong ethos to do the “right thing” by protecting the environment, creating inspiring jobs, looking after our clients and helping our friends and colleagues to prosper on their island Archipelagos.
Rocky – I’m Rocky the Chocolate Labrador – I love to come to the office and help empty the bins (all over the floor!). At the moment I’m having to stay at home until I learn to control my enthusiasm for people and mischief. I’m not as innocent as I look! Rocky x
We all believe the key to a successful holiday is hands-on personal experience. Each year we head out to our specialist destinations to experience all they have to offer – Where ever possible we only recommend hotels we’ve stayed in, activities we’ve done and restaurants we’ve eaten at. Our moto should be ‘we only recommend it, if we’ve stayed there and done it!’
For us, flexibility and a good ear are essential requirements for planning any successful holiday.
Let’s go travelling!
Team Archipelago Choice