Travcoa offers a five-star ropin', ridin' and rail extravaganza

By: Allan Maki

CALGARY For a travel company that offers ballooning vacations in Kenya or a trip down China’s Yangtze River, a getaway to Canada may not sound quite as exotic. But Travcoa’s latest package embraces the best of Western Canada, from the Rocky Mountains to the Calgary Stampede, and serves it up in five-star fashion.

The eight-day trip (July 3-10) originates in Calgary and is highlighted by a rail tour on the Royal Canadian Pacific, a vintage passenger train once used by the likes of John F. Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill, Princess Elizabeth, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The 10-car train has been restored to its original beauty and can accommodate 32 guests on its tour from Calgary to British Columbia to Lake Louise and Banff. A master chef prepares all meals and side excursions along the way allow guests to visit heritage towns, ride horseback and view the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel.

Also included is a two-day visit to the Calgary Stampede, billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. In the afternoon, guests will sit in a special VIP section and watch steer wrestling and bull riding at the rodeo.

In the evening, they’ll be treated to chuck wagon races, a grandstand show and a fireworks display. Giving vacationers a taste of Western Canadian heritage while maintaining a reputation for high-end service was a Travcoa idea born of its clientele.

“We have people looking to stay closer to home and they’ve been asking us, ‘What can we do in North America?’ “ explained Angela Miller, Travcoa’s director of marketing. “By finding partners like the Royal Canadian Pacific, it gave us an opportunity to put together a product that’s consistent with what we do around the world.”

The Royal Canadian Pacific tour is an all-inclusive vacation priced at $7,995; airfare to Calgary is not included. The commission is 10 percent.

Travcoa will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and offer vacation packages all around the world from Mongolia to Papua New Guinea to New Zealand and Australia. 800-992-2003;