If you have an appetite for travel, Culinary Latitudes Travel has the trip of your dreams in store.
Owner Rhonda Macier Lathen splits her time between Milliken, Colorado, and the Treasure Coast of Florida. She found her calling in the travel planning business after two decades of helping friends and family figure out their dream trips. It was clear that many people were flying blind when it came to options and planning. They were often overwhelmed by myriad choices and a confusing pricing structure. In many cases, the type of trip they envisioned just wasn’t out there.
After 30-plus years working as an accountant in a CPA firm, Lathen decided to focus full-time on helping travelers who love good food and drink plan their ideal trips to dream destinations, with delectable menus along the way. In building her business as a travel specialist over the last two years, her financial background has proven valuable, both in managing her operations and in delivering value to clients.
She’s in the process of creating and planning multiple trips most of the time, including setting itineraries, working with vendors, and finding quality resorts, lodging, and excursions where she knows her party will be well taken care of.
Her bread-and-butter clients are those looking for a nice annual vacation. Culinary Latitude’s niche, she notes, is planning trips around cuisine, led by chefs known to their communities or with successful restaurants. “For example,” she said, “I am working with an Indian chef in Naples, Florida, who actually beat Bobby Flay on an episode of Flay’s Food Network show. We’re planning a 14-day trip to India and the chef’s homeland, where he will bring those who know and love him and his cooking along to experience India and its cuisine through his eyes.”
Lathen has a wide variety of travel options, and she works hard to provide trips that people are seeking and get excited about. “In most cases, that means cruises for 75 to 80 percent of my customers. The value is there, and I have access to travel wholesalers that offer deeper discounts than individuals can find on their own. And with 21 new ships being built and launched by cruise lines this year, the value and opportunity for dream cruises will continue.
“I know most people’s first instinct is to book online,” she adds, “and for a long time that’s what I did. But now I kick myself for not using a travel specialist before. I guarantee you that I can find you a better deal than anything you will find online.”
She also offers land travel options for parties of around 20, including flights and luxury motor coach transportation. Trips that combine sea and land travel are also available, along with beach getaways for those who want to go to one spot and enjoy the sun and sand. She plans travel throughout the world and has recently taken groups to Alaska, Canada and her specialty destinations, Europe and the Caribbean.
Lathen loves working with travelers of all ages, and seniors make up a large part of her clientele. “They’re a particularly fun group,” she said. “Many of them are checking off their bucket lists, and I can feel their excitement when we’re planning their trip. They are not limited by work or school schedules and have the option to go anywhere, do anything, and stay as long as they like.”
Culinary Latitudes will host a trip to the Greek Isles, Croatia, and Venice this September with a luxury boutique cruise line, and there’s room for a few more couples to join the trip. This is a particularly popular destination for fans of “Momma Mia!” and “Game of Thrones.”
WHERE TO FIND HER
To learn more about Culinary Latitudes Travel, visit Lathen’s website, www.culinarylatitudes.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CulinaryLatitudes. You’ll find recipes, stories and pictures from past trips, as well as information about future excursions being planned.