Boutique Coach Tours of Italy

A Different Way to take a "Classic Style" Italian Tour

Unlike many of CDV's vacations that are "hub and spoke" vacations, meaning that you sleep in the same accommodations throughout the vacation, our Boutique Tours are more like traditional tours that cover more ground, changing the accommodations several times in order to experience a wider area. While these vacations may appear like the traditional tour companies, all of our foundational principals are at the core of each, such that we have carved an entirely new category of "coach tours."

Where We Shine

If you search for tours of Italy, the sheer volume of options is mind-numbing, and every tour offers its own flowery language in an attempt to differentiate itself. In reality, they are all pretty much the same. All tour companies fall into one of these categories:

  • Economy
    Companies that offer extremely attractive prices and operate on sheer volume. They are impersonal, and typically hit the postcard sites, and price their offerings at or near cost. Their profit typically comes from the "add-on options" you learn about once you are there, and commissions they receive from shop steering (taking you to shops where they receive a hefty commission). They tend to stay in 4 star hotels that are away from the action in order to save money, exclude most meals, and their tours are typically "bullet-point" tours.
  • Intermediate
    The intermediate tour companies operate exactly like the economy companies, except they tend to throw in a few nuggets to differentiate themselves. Hotels tend to be a little more central, they may include a few more meals, or have slightly nicer transportation.
  • Luxury
    Luxury Tour Companies can easily be 2 to 3 times the price of the economy tours. They justify this by staying in 5 star resort-style hotels, and typically offering more services to their guests, and typically offer a special "unique" experience during the trip that the luxury and intermediate tours do not. However, they still tend to operate on the model in which they up-sell surprise options once you are there, exclude many meals, and work on commissions from shop steering. Essentially, they are like the economy tours, but with better rooms.
  • Ultra-Luxury
    The luxury companies generally offer some "small group" vacations, which fall into this category. Typically, they are identical to the Luxury category, but tend to have groups of around 24 people, rather than 40 to 50. To offset the fixed costs and anticipated lack of commissions from the larger groups, these are typically around 50% more expensive than the "Luxury" tours.
  • Adventure
    The "adventure" category of touring has become more and more popular with younger travelers. This may include some more extreme activities, cycling, hiking, etc. They tend to get more off the beaten path, and tend to be very "no frills" vacations.
  • "FIT"
    "FIT" Stands for "Free Independent Traveler". Tour companies that offer these packages essentially create an itinerary for you, arrange for your transportation (either by train or rental car), your accommodations, and book day tours for you. With this style, it is like a group tour, except that you are doing it on your own with instructions provided by the tour company.

Where does CDV fit in these categories?

The reason we describe these categories is because we are something altogether different. We founded our company specifically as a challenge to traditional tourism. As locals, when our friends and family took tours, we always saw everything they lost out on. They had never experienced the true beauty and wonder of Italy. So we started our small group hub and spoke cooking vacations specifically to give guests a true friends and family Italian experience. Over time, it became evident that our unique style could translate to traditional point to point coach tours, and we could stay true to who we are. But that would mean that we would be creating an entirely new category of touring.

We would be more like the ultra-luxury category, because in order to really have a friends and family experience, small groups are a must. So we cap our groups at 24 people. But staying in 5 star luxury hotels doesn't give you the sense of the real Italy. Instead, it shelters you from it with Americanized everything. So we decided we would focus on small boutique hotels, villas, etc. that were run by local families our guests would get to know. Additionally, we founded our company on the concept that we would never look to make additional profit once you are with us. It is the only way for you to be seen truly as a guest and not a client. So we absolutely could not get in the business of shop steering or add-on options. That meant we needed an all inclusive, or at least mostly-inclusive approach. Finally, in order to give you a truly authentic experience, the places we go and the food we eat has to be impactful. So we decided that each of our itineraries would offer what we consider "banner" postcard sights that you know you want to see, but would be balanced with off-the-beaten-path places that most have never heard of. The hidden jewels of Italy.... those special places where the local go. As far as the food goes, there would be no tourist food whatsoever. Everything must be local, farm-to-table, with the locals. Those places your relatives would take you if you were visiting them, not the places outfitted for mass tourism. Finally, we have always been known as a company that offers "luxury of experience". What that means, is that wherever possible, we integrate with the locals and experience their life. That may mean dinner in someone's home, or a party with the locals at a festival. It may mean we are harvesting grapes one day and making wine, or picking olives and making olive oil. While the traditional tours may offer a cooking demonstration, we will be doing a full hands-on cooking party. On each and every tour we weave in experiences that you simply could never do with any of the traditional tours, or even on your own. Experiences that even the other tour companies ask us "How did you arrange THAT???"

This Must Cost a Fortune!

To be honest, it does... for us... but not as much for you. We don't even try to price our vacations in the economy or intermediate categories. We would have to take too much away from you, and simply could not be true to who we are. So we price our tours at a point that is a little bit less than the luxury category. Compare it to how restaurants ere: There is fast food (economy), casual dining (intermediate), and that place that you need to make reservations a year in advance to get into, and serves a of food on an oversized plate with a "drizzle" (luxury). But then, there are also small, family-run farm-to-table organic restaurants that focus on pure quality and honor. They cannot afford to compete with the fast food our casual dining chains, because what they make costs significantly more. But they also don't have the rent the Beverly Hills luxury restaurant has, so they can serve significantly better, for less. That is essentially who we are in the tour business, and we like it that way!

We are able to do this based on several factors:

We save:

  • by staying in beautiful family run boutique accommodations, rather than big 5 star Americanized resorts.
  • by not paying huge commissions to travel agencies.
  • by focusing all of our marketing by digital means, rather than heavy brochures.
  • by operating lean and efficient, allowing us to be successful with a smaller profit margin.

We take those savings an invest them in things that truly set us apart and make for the most memorable vacation of your life:

  • We offer Rich, quality experiences you would never have otherwise.
  • All Vacations are All-inclusive or Mostly-Inclusive, featuring food and wine at the best local farm-to-table establishments.
  • We limit ourselves to small groups that don't cause you to feel like cattle.
  • We never pad our profits by up-selling options.
  • We never taking your to stores or restaurants that give us a commission on your purchase.
  • All of our vacations have at least three of our team on the trip: The driver, The CDV Tour Host, and a third person that handles all of the little things no other tour company offers. For example, when we move accommodations, they take our luggage separately in a "chase van" so that when we arrive, our luggage is waiting for us in our rooms. Or while we are out on an excursion, if one of our guests has a special need, they are there to take care of it all behind the scenes.
  • We handle all local tipping, and it is included in your up-front pricing. That means local guides, restaurant staff, hotel staff, etc.

We Just Might Change The Way You Travel Forever!

We have been doing this since 2006, and the most common thing our guests tell us is that it has completely changed their expectations, and travel will never be the same for them. All of this because we had one simple idea: What if we treated tour guests exactly as we treat our own visiting friends and family?. Have a look at some of the stories our guests have written on this topic, or some of our reviews.

In the coming months, this page will be populated with our new Boutique tour offerings. Here is a little of what you can look forward to. Click each for a preview:

8 Days - The Italy Bucket List
8 Days - Italy's Food & Motor Valley (Check Back Soon)
9 Days - Wonderful Puglia in Trulli (Check Back Soon)
10 Days - Italian & French Riviera (Check Back Soon)
11 Days - Rome, Florence & The Tuscan Dream (Check Back Soon)
12 Day - Lakes & Wines of Northern Italy (Check Back Soon)
12 Days - Discovering the essence of central Italy (Check Back Soon)
12 Days - Under the Tuscan, Roman & Umbrian suny (Check Back Soon)
12 Days - Central Italy Christian Pilgrimage (Check Back Soon)
13 Days - Discovering The Best of Sicily (Check Back Soon)
15 Days - La Bellissima Italian Experience (Check Back Soon)