How to travel like you’re living in an Agatha Christie novel
Out of the many attributes that made Agatha Christie’s novels so popular, it wasn’t just the twists and turns and unexpected culprits in her unparalleled collection of murder mysteries. (Although all that was fun, too.)
Quite often her novels transport the reader, taking them on a trip around the world, and to another time, as well.
A new series of international luxury tours are being curated to replicate those experiences (sans the murder), roughly 100 years after Christie took off on her famous 10-month jaunt, which has since become known among her fans as “The Grand Tour.”
“While our adventures are years apart, it in fact feels side by side in terms of her attitude towards travel, and we couldn’t feel more closely aligned and connected on the importance and significant role that travel has in shaping the world’s storytellers,” says Tom Marchant, cofounder of Black Tomato, the luxury tour operator behind the endeavor.
Coinciding with the release of the upcoming film based on one of Christie’s most popular novels, Death on the Nile, the “Grand Adventure” tours will range from multiple days to weeks across the United Kingdom, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Travelers have the option to choose one or more—or all, if so ambitious.
The outline of each “leg’ of the trip (there are four among the aforementioned regions) is roughly the same in theme and some activities, but Black Tomato’s team of travel concierges will curate each voyage to the passengers’ interests for a more bespoke experience.
“Throughout this trip, Agatha wrote a series of letters to her mother and sister about the places she was visiting and the experiences she was having, which paint a vibrant picture of her adventure,” says James Prichard, chairman and CEO of Agatha Christie Limited, the company managing the literary and media rights to Christie’s works. “Given how much travel influenced Christie’s writing, we thought it fitting to partner with Black Tomato to come up with a bespoke itinerary that would deliver a rich and authentic experience following in Agatha’s footsteps.”
This includes options such as a private jet tour to Niagara Falls, a surf lesson near Cape Town (notably where Christie first tried surfing) as well as Waikiki Beach, a meeting with Prichard (who is also Christie’s great-grandson), and tea with legendary historian and BBC presenter Lucy Worsley, OBE, at Brown’s Hotel in London.
Naturally, while the itineraries are crafted with Christie’s spirit in mind, they are set at the standards of today’s luxury traveler with hotels of the highest caliber and blue-chip transport (catamarans, first-class train cars, etc.). Suffice to say, passengers will not be roughing it.
“We wanted to make sure we captured her route as accurately as modern travel supports,” a spokesperson for Black Tomato tells Fortune. “So you visit many of the places she traveled to, but done with a signature flourish and our modern interpretation, and in many cases reach fairly remote destinations a little quicker and in a different style.”
The tours are private—not organized group tours in which multiple parties can join in and travel together. While older couples certainly are the target demographic, Black Tomato says the tour is suitable for every demographic or type of private group (i.e., families or even pandemic pods of friends). This is especially true for anyone who grew up reading Christie’s books.
“For many children, Agatha is their first introduction to mystery and crime fiction, so it’s a great way for them to supplement classroom learning—and therefore families can bond together over these wondrous tales,” the spokesperson says. “This is also why we have broken the trip up into ‘legs,’ as it will allow for families with limited holiday time to do the leg that most resonates with them.”
For residents of North America who want to stay closer to home, owing to COVID restrictions or any other reason, the North American leg includes stops from Hawaii (Oahu) to upstate New York (Niagara Falls), with plenty to see in Canada in between.
Further highlighting how much of Christie’s travels can be replicated today, travelers on this leg will spend nights at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, and the Omni King Edward in Toronto—all hotels that Christie stayed at but have since, of course, been renovated to modern standards.
“For us, this partnership was not only a chance to help celebrate Christie’s trailblazing 10-month journey and the fascinating letters and archival images the Grand Tour contains, but ultimately the opportunity to harness the amazing travel experiences she undertook and give them a decidedly tailored reinterpretation for a modern audience,” Marchant says.
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