The idea for the Experience Travel Group began to form back in 2004. Co-founders, Sam Clark and Tom Armstrong were both working within the travel industry at the time, Sam for a regular travel company and Tom was a travel guide. Both were a little disenchanted by the traditional packages on offer, feeling they were lacklustre, failed to get under the skin of a place and certainly missed that magical element of discovery.
They were also frustrated the industry wasn’t doing some countries justice, particularly diverse and beautiful Sri Lanka - a country both had visited and fallen in love with. They knew they could do better and took some bold action, quitting their jobs and moving there with very little money and a dream: to start a specialist travel company that enabled travellers to craft a wonderful, in-depth experience.
However, not long after arriving Sri Lanka was devastated by the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2004. Witnessing so many lives upturned, Tom and Sam put their plans on hold and plunged into the aid effort. It looked like their dreams might have to be packed away with their remaining belongings, but while working alongside local people they felt an even deeper connection to the country. Although immediate relief was essential, they saw first-hand that joyful travel and exploration was more effective for the economic development of the local community, and more empowering, than any amount of aid. And this strengthened their commitment to bring travellers to this part of the world, despite the challenges ahead.
Three years later, building on their growing success, a third partner, Melissa Nicholas came on board to launch further experience-based holidays in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Shortly after, the Experience Travel Group London office was born.
Since then the company has grown to feature Malaysia, Borneo, Myanmar (Burma), the 17,000 islands of Indonesia and, most recently, parts of India.
In time, we may extend into other countries when we know them as well as we know our existing portfolio. Our guests tell us it’s our intimate knowledge of these destinations combined with our ability to create extraordinary local experiences that they value so highly.