An Introduction

“If you can dream it, we can make it happen. Our mission is to provide transformative experiences through active travel for independent travelers, families and groups of friends, throughout the world.” – Robbin McKinney

In 1989, Randonnée Tours pioneered the concept of self-guided biking and hiking trips in Europe and North America. More than thirty-three years later, Randonnée remains the leading travel company specializing exclusively in self-guided active travel, offering trips in 17 countries with over 165 distinctive itineraries worldwide. Owner Robbin McKinney has been designing and perfecting biking and hiking trips for over thirty-five years and continues to lead the Randonnée team ensuring that each and every tour is a ‘trip of a lifetime’.

For press enquiries, please contact Robbin McKinney at +1 888 730 8123 or +1 604 568 0139 or by email at info@randonneetours.com.

What is self-guided travel?

It’s the new wave of independent travel on a freedom-seeking, genuine, gastronomic, cultural and experience-yearning active vacation. Travelers need only choose a destination, activity and preferred dates and Randonnée takes care of the rest. A tour with Randonnée is flexible, independent and unique. Self-guided active travel is among the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry.

The Randonnée Tours' Difference

Combined with Randonnée’s thirty-three year experience, thoughtful trip design with meticulous planning, multiple daily routes offering more choices, distinctive hotels and top quality bicycles and equipment  gives clients the best experience possible. The fact that Randonnée does not sub-contracts provides clients with better value and a more consistent trip experience. Randonnée’s knowledgeable travel advisors plan and craft trips and our local Area Managers are in region provide orientation and local assistance if and when needed. The self-guided formula, allowing clients to choose when and with whom to travel is gaining in popularity and Randonnée is at the forefront in providing this innovative experience.

Innovative Itineraries
At Randonnée, travel is a journey and we believe that biking and walking are the best ways to experience the world. Each trip is rated by level of activity, with daily distance options that can typically be done in 3-5 hours (longer if desired), allowing plenty of time to experience the local culture, stop for a wine tasting or artisan visit, chat with locals and check out all the sites along the way.

Customized Experiences
Compared to traveling on open departures with groups of folks that don’t necessarily know each other, an important difference with self-guided tours is that these are customized for each client booking, for individuals, couples, families and groups of friends. Itineraries include certain can’t miss meals, sometimes a walking tour, cooking course or other activity that Randonnée feels will make the trip special and unique and that clients wouldn’t find on their own.

Distinctive Hotels and Inns
For each itinerary that Randonnée offers, there are typically a range of hotel options, from Casual/B&B style through to Classic & Luxe, each hand-picked and unique. Hotel options include well known 5-star hotels such as Masseria Torre Coccaro in Monopoli, Puglia, Crillon le Brave in Provence and La Sirenuse  in Positano on the Amalfi Coast, but also lesser-known but equally appealing collection of inns, and lodges, each in fitting with the character of the region they are in.

Culinary Experiences
On self-guided tours with Randonnée, travelers decide where, when and how to dine, taking advantage of the extensive experience of Randonnée research and recommendations. If there is a can’t miss restaurant that we feel should be included, it is.

Area Managers Extraordinaire
The Local Area Manager is what distinguishes Randonnée from others. Many are local guides and are eager to share their knowledge of the region with guests. Their key role is to provide an orientation, fit bikes on a cycling trip and to be a point of contact should clients require any assistance during the trip.

Randonnée Tours' Programs in Brief

Although our start was in biking tours, Randonnée quickly followed with hiking and multi-sport tours.

Biking Tours
A self-guided biking tour with Randonnée typically has guests biking from hotel to hotel along quiet roads passing important cultural sites and villages where travelers can engage with locals. When designing trips, Randonnée seeks out regions that have interesting culture, great scenery with quiet low-trafficked roads, distinctive and charming hotels and a variety of excellent restaurants.

Hiking Tours
Randonnée’s hiking tours include many of the same regions that we offer cycling tours, but for walkers and hikers, utilizing trails and hiking paths to link up interesting villages with great hotels and accommodation choices.

Custom Tours
Randonnée has created custom trips for individuals ranging from a 5000 km bike journey for a couple wanting to ride from Montreal to LA  and another for two couples cycling from Basel to Budapest.

Background on Robbin McKinney, owner

“It is likely that Robbin has guided more cycling trips in more places for longer than anyone on the planet.”

Robbin McKinney has always been a keen cyclist, avid hiker and an insatiable traveler. Robbin worked at a bike shop as a teenager and raced bikes well into his 40’s. But it was while leading cycling tours for Butterfield & Robinson (starting in 1984) that Robbin found his métier. Over a period of 18 years, Robbin lead trips and created magic for B&R throughout Europe and the world, gaining experience and making friends. In 1996, after working in other fields and obtaining a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Robbin started Great Explorations, a tour operator specializing in guided bike tours, now in more than 26 countries. Robbin also started an event management subsidiary that created and produced cycling events for organizations such as Canadian Tire/Jumpstart that raised funds for worthwhile causes. Other events have included those to raise awareness and funds for mountain bike trails in British Columbia (Sea to Sky Trail Challenge; Sunshine Coast Trail Challenge) and a Gran Fondo in Prince Edward County, Ontario that generates funds for local charities. Some of these continue as annual events that Robbin and team produce. In 2005, Robbin acquired Randonnée Tours, which compliments what is offered by Great Explorations.

As the owner of Great Explorations & Randonnée Tours, Robbin has the resources, passion and commitment to ensure that the company remains the leader in this style of travel. Robbin still guides several tours each year and spends a great deal of time perfecting trips with his dedicated team.

Operations Manager Marine Chabanon and a team of Travel Advisors oversee day to day management of Great Explorations & Randonnée Tours.

Affiliates of Randonnée Tours

Great Explorations – www.great-explorations.com
County Gran Fondo – www.countygranfondo.com

Fact Sheet Summary

Randonnée Tours Headquarters
102-1529 West 6th, Vancouver, BC Canada

First trip offered
Provence, France biking

Top-selling biking trip (most recent year)
Puglia, Italy

Top-selling hiking trip (most recent year)
Catalonia, Spain

Number of countries Randonnée Tours offers trips in
17

Length of trips
Trips vary in length from 4-14 days

Bikes & Equipment
Randonnée owns and maintains a large fleet of Cannondale and custom built European model hybrid and racing bikes. Randonnée has the largest number of bike depots in Europe of any bike tour operator. Being avid cyclists ourselves we made a decision early on to invest heavily in the highest quality bikes and equipment, to differentiate ourselves from other operators and to offer clients reliable, and high quality bikes.

Web
www.randonneetours.com

Biking Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean: Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland & Belgium, Ireland,  Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
  • Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia
  • United States: Utah, California, Maui

Multi-Sport Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean:  France, Switzerland
  • Latin America & the Caribbean: Costa Rica
  • Canada: British Columbia, Alberta

Hiking Trips

  • Europe & the Mediterranean: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain
  • Canada: Alberta, Quebec

Articles about Us

  • Disappearing Bridges (Kettle Valley Trail, BC, Canada) by Dawn Hanna (Archive)