Rave Reviews, Adventures of a Lifetime: REI Salutes 2014 Top Guides

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REI Adventures, the global leader in guided active adventure, has named its Top Guides; six adventure guides from five countries receive “best of best” annual honors based on traveler feedback

REI Adventures 2014 Top Guides

"The caliber of our guides shapes the journey," Cynthia Dunbar, REI Adventures manager.

It’s the stories about customer service that set REI Adventures’ Top Guides apart. Each year, the global leader in guided active adventure travel honors a small group of its most highly-reviewed adventure guides. Ask this year’s six talented honorees, and you’ll hear accounts of coaxing hikers up Half Dome, changing bike tires at lightning speed in the Loire Valley, and helping novice paddle-boarders find their balance on Lake Tahoe’s waters.

Combining hospitality, outdoor skills, cultural knowledge and more, they create an atmosphere of discovery and fun, where trip participants become lifelong friends. It’s also through personal accounts and reviews that REI Adventures’ participants reveal the life-changing nature of their travel, and how their guides made a difference. REI Adventures is the only adventure travel company that posts independent customer reviews, and the co-op gives these reviews significant consideration in choosing each year’s Top Guides. Winners are also selected based on their ability to represent REI’s values and brand, and partnership with REI in strengthening the company’s travel offerings around the world.

“When our guests write about their travels with us, they describe powerful experiences, such as discovering a love of climbing or completing the international trip they’ve longed to do for 30 years,” says Cynthia Dunbar, REI Adventures manager. “The caliber of our guides shapes the journey, as does the community among our guests, the majority of whom are REI members and passionate about the outdoors. This is an experience that no other company can match.”

The Best of the Best
The six guides named a 2014 REI Adventures Top Guide are:
Joe Curran – Ireland Coast to Coast Hiking
Gary Elbert – Yosemite Backpacking Weekend Getaways; Superstition Mountains Backpacking Weekend Getaway
Luis Tinoco de Faria – Portugal Coastal Hiking Adventure
Chris Kasper – Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, Arches, Canyonlands, Zion and Bryce
Ernesto Ore – Machu Picchu Explorer, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands (Peru portion); Machu Picchu Family Adventure
Olivier Roger – Loire Valley Cycling Adventure

Traveler Kudos
“It was a trip of a lifetime. I could not have possibly learned as much as I did about the country, the culture and the politics of Ireland without Joe. He was great, and so patient, professional and hardworking!”

“Man, this guy {Gary Elbert} knew his stuff. I already have a good knowledge of the outdoors and have done plenty of (less strenuous) backpacking trips, but I learned so much more about tricks of backpacking, the outdoors, and how to be a better steward of the environment.”

“The passion {Luis Faria} has for his country and his interest in the natural world is palpable – a very bright light, fortunate to have him as a guide!”

“Wow. I've never met anyone who can manage a disparate group of people, be ultimately responsible for myriad tasks, and do it with such aplomb and equanimity. That is Chris.”

“His knowledge of languages, history, archeology, architecture, agriculture, and let's not forget wine, was amazing. He was very attuned to each of us while also seeming to be enjoying himself. Ernesto made the trip!”

“We loved our guide, Olivier Roger. He definitely added a personal touch to the trip and made the trip a more French experience! I loved having a local guide who I learned so much from in terms of the {regional} culture, wine, etc.”

About REI Adventures
Award-winning REI Adventures has been a global leader in worldwide guided active adventure programs since 1987. The company offers unique itineraries focused on sustainable, human-powered outdoor adventure including hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing and more. Guests experience iconic destinations as guides take them off the “beaten path” and provide opportunities to explore a destination, get to know the local people, their culture, the flora and fauna and discover things they would not be able to duplicate on their own or with another travel company. REI members receive a special discount price on most trips. For more information, full itineraries and trip reviews provided by guests, visit http://www.rei.com/travel.

About REI
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 5.6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips and outstanding customer service. REI has 138 stores in 33 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 150 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally trained, expert instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.

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Megan Behrbaum
REI
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