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Imagine climbing into the immaculate, custom-crafted interior of a Cessna Caravan seaplane with six of your closest friends and setting off from Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo, B.C.
You chatter away or sit in awe of the scenery as you navigate some of the most breathtaking stretches of land and water in Canada, stopping here and there to visit some of the country’s finest craft breweries.
It could be the most epic beer tour you ever experience–one you’d remember for the rest of your life.
That’s the goal of a new offering from B.C. travel company Butiq Escapes, billed as a refined beer experience for those who truly love the craft.
“What we do is very bespoke,” said Aidan Henry, co-founder of Butiq Escapes. “It’s customized. Every single experience is unique. You might find some that are very similar, but they’ll never be the same.”
The seaplane beer tour uses a Cessna Caravan piloted by North Saanich, B.C.-based VIH Execujet, and can last as little as a few hours or as long as a full weekend.
Its goal is to visit locations a conventional beer tour can’t, covering far more territory in much less time while showcasing B.C.’s beautiful coastline and the gulf islands that sit between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
“We have some really beautiful islands here, and some of them have breweries,” said Henry. “Creating that unique experience of flying between islands with a good group of friends or business colleagues or family is an experience that you just don’t see every day.
“And nobody had really been doing something like this. So we thought, ‘Hey. This might be something that people would be interested in,’ and we’ve got good feedback so far.”
All of the company’s seaplane beer tours are unique, visiting only the breweries a client wishes to sample. Butiq Escapes does offer suggestions and recommendations, including Canada’s oldest brewpub–Spinnaker’s, in Victoria.
“We’re essentially a consultant,” said Henry. “At the end of the day the client’s going to make the final calls on everything, because it is their money and it’s their experience.”
Tours start at $5,000 and can include food and ground transportation, based on a client’s needs.
“It’s hard to say what’s actually part of that $5,000 cost, but basically that’s kind of the starting point in terms of having a couple hours to do the flights and have a few tastings,” said Henry. “That would kind of be your entry-level package.”
While its launch partner is VIH Execujet, Butiq Escapes is reaching out to other seaplane operators, as well as pubs and breweries anywhere in B.C. that want to work with the company to expand its beer tour offering.
“What we’re trying to do is take those experiences that people have some reference point to, but take them to the next level,” said Henry.
“People have done their beer tours or brewery tours or even culinary tours within a city. Why not try and do that on a bigger scale and take you to places that you wouldn’t be able to go to in a matter of a couple hours if you were driving or taking ferries … the whole experience is very engaging, and it’s very fulfilling for the group.”