Classic Portfolio has been a business evolution over the past 25 years resulting from the founder Suzanne Bayly-Coupe’s desire to explore Africa’s wildest places. Now the company is widely recognised as the leading independent portfolio of hotels, lodges and camps, with private owners committed to making a difference across the vast African continent. Classic Portfolio has become the most trusted resource for travel agents, tour operators and inbound operators who have the privilege of sending travellers to the properties within this portfolio – and also is the founder of Sustainable Africa, a movement committed to conservation and communities in Africa promoting viability via commercially successful tourism operations.
Now with over 20 years of experience exploring and promoting South Africa, East, and more recently Central and West Africa, Classic Portfolio is celebrating this wealth of experience and the dedication of each property owner to conservation, by launching a new brand, VAST Journeys. This brand-new collection comprises 17 properties across Africa and totals over 50 camps in 12 different countries. Suzanne Bayly-Coupe talks about the vision and purpose behind the launch of VAST Journeys: “I have travelled extensively across Africa over the years and always been amazed at the breath-taking beauty of the landscapes, the extraordinary people and the diversity of wildlife. Through my travels I have been privileged to meet and work with visionaries who are committed to making a difference across this vast continent. That is why we wanted to create a showcase of these inspirational places and people.”
The Visionaries Behind VAST Journeys
VAST Journeys offers some of the most exceptional experiences possible in Africa traversing from Sao Tome & Principe, to the Republic of Congo, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, and also Namibia and Zimbabwe. Mark Shuttleworth, the South African entrepreneur, philanthropist and interstellar traveller, is developing sustainable eco-tourism experiences on Principe Island while Sabine Plattner, international businesswoman and philanthropist, is the courage behind the Congo Conservation Company and the Odzala Discovery Camps in the Congo Basin. Laurence Graff, an avid collector of modern and contemporary art, a world leader within the diamond industry and an equally devoted philanthropist, opened the doors of Delaire Graff Estate to celebrate the beauty of Africa, and Michael Pawlowski, a German international entrepreneur fell in love with Franschhoek and decided to call it home, developing two farms to share life with travellers to this pristine valley. The inspiration behind Kwandwe Reserve was the eco-tourism model within the protected area, and this attracted the Chouest family from the southern states of the USA, hands-on conservationists passionate about protecting endangered species. The Scott, Jackson and Mathebula families lead a contemporary African safari evolution at Tanda Tula, embracing meaningful transformation through equity ownership, education and inclusive development, while the Coppingers, owners of Remote African Safaris, are leading eco-tourism models that contribute significantly to local villages and schools in Zambia. Andy Hogg, a committed conservationist, founded The Bushcamp Company in 1998 after working with Save the Rhino Trust in South Luangwa in Zambia, while in 1989 the Cumings family founded Chiawa Camp and pioneered eco-tourism in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Christopher and Stella Bettany are the visionary owners and designers behind Azura and have a strong commitment towards protecting the environment in Mozambique and Tanzania while the Friedkin family, dedicated conservationists, created the Friedkin Conservation Fund to conserve millions of acres of Tanzania’s protected wildlife areas. Fabia Bausch and Nicolas Negre founded Chem Chem on an immense love and respect for the natural world, and Judi Wineland and Rick Thomson have been dedicated to Tanzania since 1981 when they began their award-winning safari company, Thomson Safaris. Fourth-generation Kenyans, Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley founded The Safari Collection, driven by the ethos to be low impact and community and conservation oriented, and the beautiful Blue Safaris in Seychelles were born out of an unmatched love for this wild and remote part of Africa, by Murray Collins, Keith Rose-Innes and Devan van der Merwe, who have worked tirelessly to preserve and protect the atolls in the Indian Ocean.
As a collection of like-minded destinations, VAST works closely with a community of trusted travel planning partners across the world. Travel agents who book a VAST journey contribute to the region’s long term sustainability. The idea is that these travel partners will be progressive partners and experience each destination and then use their first-hand knowledge to craft authentic travel experiences in Africa, each one making a significant difference to help a tourism operation in Africa become commercially successful.