Bespoke US small group touring firm to upscale

Utah Luxury Tours plans to quadruple business in four years

Zion National Park in spring © David J West

North American small group touring company Utah Luxury Tours has set an ambitious goal of quadrupling its business in the next three to four years.

Established by Brian Murphy in 2012, the Park City-based company offers a collection of multi-day sightseeing tours throughout Utah visiting some of the US state’s most iconic monuments and national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches and Canyonlands, as well as to many parks that may not be as mainstream with international audiences, such as Goblin Valley, Dead Horse Point and Capitol Reef.

Murphy created Utah Luxury Tours after successfully operating a high-end transportation company for several years earlier, Moab Luxury Coach. When his clients began requesting tours of Utah’s national parks, on top of transfer services in the state, Murphy pivoted his business to a bespoke touring company.

While the name may suggest the company operates wholly in one state, Utah Luxury Tours has touring options well beyond the state’s borders into neighbouring Arizona to explore the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, as well as Wyoming for trips to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Set luxury tours range from four to eight days in duration and are escorted by a driver/guide throughout, with guests accommodated in four- and five-star hotels and transported in luxury 15-passenger extended high top touring vans. Tour numbers are limited to just 10 people to ensure an intimate experience.

Starry night over Zion National Park © David J West

Operating roundtrip from Salt Lake City, the ‘Beehive State’-centric five-day Mighty 5 small-group tour includes five national parks, two state parks and one national monument and is priced from US$3,995 per person twin share (plus gratuities).

For guests who may wish to kick up the exclusivity a notch, Utah Luxury Tours also offers a range of Private Custom Tours which offer increased flexibility for a group to adjust the pace of the tour to suit their needs. This collection includes an eight-day Wonders of the West through Utah and Arizona, as well as the seven-day California National Parks exploration from Las Vegas to San Francisco, visiting Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite.

And for something more extravagant and more in-depth, the Cougar Ridge Experience is centred around the namesake retreat and offers guests the opportunity to participate in hands-on private classes such as winemaking and wood carving, guided ATV trail riding and fishing. The five-day experience is priced at US$53,460 for up to eight adults.

Speaking with LATTE from Park City, Utah Luxury Tours Founder and CEO Brian Murphy said the business-to-consumer strategy has been thriving in recent years, driven primarily by the US domestic market which accounts for around 95% of bookings. 

brian-murphy-utah-luxury-tours
Brian Murphy, CEO Utah Luxury Tours

His top international markets are Italy, Australia and New Zealand. While representing a very small niche, Murphy said Australian travellers were lucrative as they typically stay longer – many book an in-depth 21-day itinerary – and thus spend more. 

Utah Luxury Tours has been a long-time service provider for luxury touring brands, including  Tauck and Kensington Tours, and more recently has an allegiance with African experiential travel specialists, Ker & Downey. That partnership sees each company refer their clients across continents.

By choice, Utah Luxury Tours isn’t aligned with any of the large travel conglomerates in the US, such as Virtuoso, Signature Travel Network or Ensemble Travel Group, however, the company does work with travel agencies and offers commissions for client bookings.

Unsurprisingly the current COVID-19 pandemic has seen a pause in operation, but Murphy is optimistic that the luxury market will rebound having come off his strongest ever start to a year in early 2020.

Image © David J West

The next few years will see Utah Luxury Tours ramp up its scale and tap the burgeoning ultra-high-net worth travel market, Murphy told LATTE.

Last week, Murphy announced the appointment of Connor Maloney as Utah Luxury Tours’ Director of Operations and Sales, assuming the duties of VP of the company. Murphy himself has taken on the newly created role as President of Luxus Travel Inc, the parent firm of Utah Luxury Tours.

“We want to remain active and nimble in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Refocusing ourselves and preparing for what tourism will look like in the new normal will help us navigate any future issues while helping to rebuild the economy,” Murphy said.

To learn more, see utahluxurytours.com/ and to earn travel agency commission on your bookings, mention “LatteUtah”.

Image credit: David J West

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