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A Spec-TAP-ular Encore

The Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) know how to throw a party.

Though every group trip has its highlights, few promise to be as glamorous and immersive as the soirees that have become the signature of SpecTAPular Tours and Events.

“These are created to be very special tours and events — unique, one of a kind and just for our travelers,” said Nick Calderazzo, president of TAP partner Twin Travel Concepts and the organization’s SpecTAPular committee chair. “They’re not open to outsiders. Only TAP partners can sell into them. Everyone who wants to come has to book the trip through a TAP partner, and all the events are private.”

SpecTAPular events have been a staple of TAP’s product offerings since the first edition launched in 2012. They have taken place in destinations around the country, often drawing hundreds of travelers who come for experiences that aren’t available on everyday tours.

“The idea is to come up with something creative and to use our partners,” Calderazzo said. “We have all these Preferred Professional Travel Providers we work with, and we use them to come up with these events. They’re not simple things to create — they’re difficult to come up with and to get just right.”

TAP aims to produce about one SpecTAPular event each year, although the unique demands of these programs mean that sometimes there will be more than a year between editions; other years might have two SpecTAPulars.

Great Gatsby Getaway

For 2017, the organization is planning the Great Gatsby Getaway, an encore to the similar 2015 SpecTAPular event that met with rave reviews.

“We’re going to Michigan to combine Traverse City and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island,” Calderazzo said. “It’s all about the 1920s and ‘The Great Gatsby.’ It’s a perfect time of year up there — fall foliage is at its peak. You get to see Traverse City, a beautiful gem in northern Michigan, and each night is a 1920s-themed event.”

Depending on the details of their bookings, most groups attending the event will fly into Detroit and may tour some attractions around the city before making their way up to Traverse City, where the opening evening’s entertainment will feature a singalong with a 1920s tribute band. Many attendees will wear 1920s costumes for pictures.

“The next day we’ll go up to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island,” Calderazzo said. “It’s amazing — there are horse-drawn carriages that take you back and forth to the hotel. It’s a beautiful five-star resort with the longest porch in the world, overlooking the Straits of Mackinac.

“We’ll start with a reception, followed by a five-course dinner. Afterwards, we’re going to have everyone dressed in Gatsby character, and we’ll do a promenade through the lobby. Then we’ll go into the ballroom where the orchestra will be playing, and we’ll have a costume competition. There will be dancing and Champagne as well.”

The day after this grand gala, visitors will be able to enjoy the resort and explore the surrounding Mackinac Island at their leisure. Available activities include golf, lawn games, afternoon tea, movie screenings and horse-drawn carriage tours of the island.

The final evening will feature another five-course dinner, a signature of the Grand Hotel, followed by a dance accompanied by the hotel’s resident orchestra.

“We’re going to have a singing and dancing competition,” Calderazzo said. “There will be contests for best dance couple, best singer, etc. It will be a wonderful event.”

Planning Information

The Great Gatsby Getaway SpecTAPular is scheduled for October 1-4. Individual travelers can book their tickets at the organization’s website, www.tapintotravel.com. Group leaders can make arrangements by working directly with a TAP tour operator.

In addition to the October event in Michigan, Calderazzo said plans for future SpecTAPular events are always in the works, although it’s too soon to say for certain what coming years will bring.

“We’re working on some exciting things and looking at actual tours instead of just events,” Calderazzo said. “We’re thinking about doing a true SpecTAPular tour, but I don’t want to give away too much.”

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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