Why Choose Art of Living

“I’ve been able to travel extensively these past 30 years and like a great Conductor, who can reveal the essence of a symphony, “The Art of Living Tours,” by Marieke Brugman, achieves that same magic wherever you go with her. You are a guest, not just a tourist, as she reveals places, tastes and sights only a true lover of that culture can offer. It is why I’ve done so many of her excursions (South Africa, Normandy, Spain, Turkey and India several times) and had the privilege of discovering the breath and soul of the places she offers to her intimate groups”.
Kenneth Payne

EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE

First and foremost, we do not discriminate. We welcome and give our services to all inquisitive travellers, whatever age, identity, belief system, so long as you approach us with an open mind, endless curiosity for the ‘human project’ of experience, and the impetus to travel with a sense of meaning and enrichment.

Personal research, impeccable planning and attention to the smallest details define our style.

Our trips peel back the surface layers, so you enjoy the unexpected, have your curiosity ignited, your senses and sensibilities nourished, your memories cherished, your personal freedoms respected, your expectations excelled.

Our group tours are not so overloaded with activity that you won’t have time for a little independent exploration, time to read, rest, write, ruminate.

We work only with operators, guides, hotels and drivers who will give you the same service, courtesy and respect as we do.

We value you, from your first enquiry to following up after you reach home. Our communications with you from start to finish are prompt, efficient and highly personalised.

Whilst everything is meticulously pre-planned, it is sometimes the case that the countries we travel in can throw a curve ball – a flight might be delayed, a designated route might be closed, something exciting is happening in the vicinity, such as a festival or temple ceremony, that we only come to hear about on reaching. Whatever decisions we take will be made in the best interests of the group at large. We are solution oriented and work with the best people on the ground to help us manage any contingency. You, our guest, can be assured we take full responsibility, at all times, for your safety and comfort. You can be carefree knowing the best outcome will be realised.

We design well-paced itineraries that allow a deep immersion in and appreciation of your experiences. This means being in most places for at least two, if not three nights. Occasionally, if there is a one-night stay  – it is used as a halt to avert an otherwise too long drive. We know about secret hideaways, in case you need a break from the breathless pace, or a calmative end to your adventure, before you re-enter your hectic life.

We are known for our “style”. We almost never use international or chain hotels. We have a strong predilection towards smaller properties that in their architecture, location, and management exude the character and charm of the place. We choose boutique, owner-operated and heritage, if they are fabulous, over bland and modern. Every property is personally vetted. Our view of luxury is not about opulence (the gold plated tap or vast marble lobby variety – though if you want it, we will obtain it for you) – rather it’s about warmth of welcome, standards of comfort and service, the excellence of cuisine, the best available in a destination where the offerings might be more meager, opening to you the doors to our inner circle, working with local experts and fascinating, generous personalities.

We believe it is often the case for most travellers that it is the people they meet, as much, if not more so, than the places they see, that form lasting memories. We love to connect people. We do this in all manner of ways.

When Marieke is taking a tour, she creates a cocktail hour at the end of most days, so guests can relax and converse. We provide entrée to private homes so you meet interesting locals. We carry picnics so you can enjoy the landscape and see the passing parade of daily life in a village. We’ll buy entrance tickets in advance so you don’t get caught up in the crowds.

We believe that no program is rigid and take an organic approach that allows us to include the unexpected – it might be to stop and mingle with a wedding party, or to take a small detour that promises an exciting and colourful ceremony.

On any tour, our ultimate commitment is to our guests’ pleasure, well-being, enrichment and sense of harmony. Every personal request will be accommodated so long as it does not compromise the good of the greater group.

TESTIMONIALS

To travel with Marieke is the ultimate bespoke, stress free experience to which she adds a personal spiritual dimension of calm and , if you like, a bonus yoga class to stretch mind and body before the day’s adventure begins.. She responds to every situation and circumstance in the present moment, adjusting and calibrating he day to suit her travellers needs and moods and to expand the experience of your destination so that you feel enriched in your senses and your understanding of where you are. Not just because of what you see and do, but through the conversations over dinner, and the in-depth notes that precede your trip and the spontaneous way she makes everything possible.

Caroline Baum  | Author • Journalist • Curator • Moderator

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“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in its frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” –Freya Stark

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. James A Michener

People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive. Joseph Campbell

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. ~Helen Keller

As you journey through life, choose your destinations well, but do not hurry there. Avoid the shortcuts… wander the back roads… enjoy the scenery. And remember that the true worth of your travels lies not in the destination but in who you come to be along the way. Anon.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. Saint Augustine