Set aside your preconceived notions of what an organized tour looks like and then you might begin to understand Tenon Tours.
“The inspiration to start Tenon Tours came from the sheer satisfaction that you receive when you’re able to create lifelong memories for others through travel,” says Bryan Lewis of his Stoneham, Ma.-based company, which creates travel experiences to Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and beyond. “When I look at how people’s lives are impacted by visiting another country, experiencing the culture, learning the history, and developing an appreciation for the things they wouldn’t necessarily ever encounter had they not taken the opportunity to travel, it really makes every trip worth planning.”
Tenon Tours works with each client (whether traveling solo, with a companion or a group) to arrange a tour that strikes that traveler’s ideal balance between independence, flexibility and structure. For example, Tenon’s City Stay packages allow travelers to select a metropolis (such as Galway, Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh or London) as a home base. The package comes with accommodations, day trips to stunning sites outside the city and more. Or the Ireland Hoppers package enables guests to stay overnight in several Irish towns and cities, where Tenon arranges the transportation and accommodations, allowing clients to take advantage of optional activities or to create their own itinerary. Additionally, self-driven, personalized chauffer tours and other customized trips can be arranged.
“The difference between Tenon Tours and traditional tour operators is that we pride ourselves on creating tailor-made trips based on each customer’s desires,” Lewis says. “While most companies offer a wide range of ‘catalog tours’ which have strict itineraries, we feel that each trip should be special. Every customer of Tenon works directly with a destination specialist who provides an exceptional amount of personal service until the itinerary is perfect.”
Tenon also specializes in group travel, offering numerous preset theme tours, bringing those with similar interests together. Examples include Singles Week, Ages 50+ & Active, the upcoming Croke Park Classic, and the Irish Life Experience (specially designed for North American high school students). New for 2014, Tenon will host trips for Homecoming Scotland and a large scale event to “celebrate the traditional Irish Pub,” Lewis notes.
Celtic Life International caught up with Shannon Simms before she set off for Scotland, her fourth trip arranged with Tenon. “I’m looking forward to some of the adventures, from the ghost tours in Edinburgh to walking on St Andrews golf course, from visiting castles and looking for Nessie in Loch Ness,” Simms said before her December departure. “Tenon always does a superb job, so that I know we won’t be disappointed!!”
Simms took Tenon’s Irish Singles Tour in 2008 and 2011. Highlights included exploring Galway, the Aran Islands and Kylemore Abbey, horseback riding in Killarney National Park, and spending time in local pubs. She also became great friends with her tour mates. In 2009, Simms traveled to the Czech Republic and Germany for Oktoberfest, another customized tour from Tenon.
“When I travel I like to get off the beaten path to try and find more of a local setting instead of a tourist place,” Simms mentioned. “I love these tours because they are relaxed. You pick the excursions you want to go on, you can pick as many or none at all. Bottom line, it’s a tour without the hustle and bustle of traditional tours.”
Simms says she also continues to book with Tenon because of its quality staff. “I have dealt with several of them, but I deal a lot with Katie Fleming,” Simms said. “She is prompt, cheerful, honest, helpful and always there when you need her. Bryan Lewis, the owner, is very approachable and is also always there if I need him.”
Creating fulfilling travel experiences is what fuels Lewis and the rest of Tenon Tour team.
“I think that the connection that people have with Ireland and the United Kingdom is something that is to be cherished and admired,” he says. “I’m proud to be part of that community and even more proud of our team who provide an opportunity for others to explore their own roots through travel. I can’t think of a more rewarding industry than travel and can truly say that I love coming to work every day.”