Our Founder and CEO, Mark Story, began his quest for the perfect travel experience in college with his travels to Australia. It wasn't too long after that he began creating unique and high-end travel experiences to all points on the globe. His company was called QueensLander.
QueensLander became STORY Land & Sea® with a re-branding in 2015. The family-owned tour company is based in Colorado in the USA and has an office in Bergamo, Italy. Story is all about providing distinctive, small group tours throughout Italy and the world. Our branded tours feature our True Small Group® tour experience with no more than 16 travelers (and in the Fall of 2020, STORY will feature a maximum of 8 travelers on all tour departures as part of their Smart Travel initiative. This is our most popular method of touring and we're proud to be recognized by travel expert Arthur Frommer for our small-group touring approach. Mr. Frommer describes our small group tours as "the perfect way to see Italy."
Imagine a team of trip planners whose goal in life is to create unique experiences for each guest — now imagine all of that is told in the Story of Travel on your upcoming vacation with us — this passion is complemented by our adherence to a "True Small Group Tour" approach.
Read about how Story is different from other mainstream operators with this comparison chart.
When we say "Heart of City" hotels we are intending to let you know the placement of our hotels is keenly important to our business model. We could save money by placing Story guests on the outskirts of town or in hotels the mainstream operators use but that would defeat our purpose. We aim to create unique itineraries complemented by hotels found in the true center of town or in the place where one would desire to stay.
Read about our approach to Hotels here.
Story Tour Captains:
Americans on a Mission with Passion
We employ Certified International Tour Managers whom we refer to as Tour Captains. Each Tour Captain undergoes annual training conducted personally by our owner. Each of our Tour Captains are American citizens who have trained specifically in tour management. We prefer American Tour Captains to serve our worldwide guests because they understand English-speaking travelers better than their foreign counterparts. By combining our US Tour Captains with foreign expert guides, we truly are able to enjoy the "best of both worlds." Story Tour Captains are 'in the know' when it comes to the execution of your vacation. From the logistics to that unique spot only a local would know, your Tour Captain is your expert host.
Local, Expert Guides
Our cast would not be complete without our local, expert guide who knows their city or region intimately. Their official guide certification is required but equally as important as the education is the personable nature and ability to convey the local and cultural essence — this is the key characteristic that you will find with your Story Local Guides.
Story Way® Dining
Unlimited & Premium Farm-to-Table
Simply put, there is no other tour operator providing the dining experience the way we do! We feature unlimited premium beverages with unique menus at our farm-to-table restaurants. Sometimes this means you will have a specially printed Story menu featuring some of the best dishes from the restaurant - don't see what you like or want to see the regular menu? No problem, our Tour Captain will provide this for you and you will quickly see the genius in our Story version of the menu. The 'set menu' of mainstream operators that feature tourist menus and the "beef, chicken, veggie or fish" expression runs foreign to Story. We want to consume the cuisine and beverages available to the local patron and truly taste the lands we are traveling through. We also feature a handful of unique culinary and chef-prepared dinners that feature specific menus but exclusively prepared for Story guests.
Never a Big Bus. Never a small, cramped van. Always the right fit and style of vehicle based on the group size. Modern, air-conditioned and comfortable are words that come to mind when discussing the Story on-tour vehicle.
Mark Story, the founder of QueensLander, now Story Land & Sea®, began leading and hosting groups of people on tours and cruises starting in 1988. After many successful years of creating exciting group adventures as a part-time proprietor, Mark expanded the company to a full-time operation in 2003. When you travel with Story Land & Sea® your travel event is covered by our Tour Operator Professional Liability Insurance which includes a 1 million dollar "Errors & Omissions" policy. We require proof of liability coverage from our partner suppliers as an extra means of protection.
We choose to offer our guests only the finest in quality Italian hotels, and clean, comfortable economy hotels on certain itineraries. We offer select and a la carte dining in off-the-beaten-path restaurants owned and operated by Italian. We provide unique entertainment in the Italian cities and feature more admissions than other leading tour operators as well as gratuities on most of our Story branded travel events. We've found that our guests prefer our gratuities for our Tour Captains to remain optional and therefore they are at your discretion. Every trip is under the guidance of your travel host, the Story Land & Sea® Tour Captain. Your Captain is there to ensure your Italy tour is truly the vacation of a lifetime. They are friendly, service-driven professionals who care about your satisfaction throughout Italy!
By going the extra mile in providing outstanding service, knowledgeable guides, great menus and amenities, we believe you'll come back to us again and again.
Compare us with the larger companies and you'll see the Story Land & Sea® difference: personal service, genuine caring individuals who go the extra mile...we call it, "The Story Way."
I'd like to know more about your experiences in travel both with us and with other companies. Please drop me a line at Mark @ StoryLandSea . com (no spaces).
A Family of Brands
In addition to our luxury brand, Story Land & Sea®, we also operate Savvy Affordable Tours®, Walks by Story®, and premiering in 2017, Story Africa® and in 2018, Story Small Ships®.
Why should I go with Story Land & Sea® over other leading brand names?
Other than the size of our group, the variety in our itineraries, the location in the Italian cities and quality of our hotels, the type of Italian dinners we include and the service-driven nature of our tour Italian and American staff...hmm, what else is there? Oh yeah! You'll never be on a large bus, you'll never scamper after your tour director who is 40 plus people ahead of you, and you'll always be treated as our guest throughout your Italian vacation.
Our Philosophy is Service-Driven
We strive to provide a personal service unmatched in the Italy touring industry. From our pre-trip conversations and consultation, to on-tour experience in Italy, and to our follow-up after the tour: service-driven is our goal.
Our Partners, Affiliates and Friends