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TAP’s SpecTAPular Two

A dynamic duo of special events in 2018 will showcase Travel Alliance Partners’ (TAP’s) product diversity and growing expertise in creating one-of-a-kind specialty experiences.

Known as SpecTAPular Tours and Events, these occasions were introduced by TAP in 2012 and have become an important part of the organization’s distinctive offerings.

“SpecTAPular is something totally unique,” said Nick Calderazzo, president of TAP partner Twin Travel Concepts and the organization’s SpecTAPular committee chair. “You’re not going to find it anywhere else in the marketplace. It has elements of exclusivity — an exclusive concert, an exclusive event, something that makes it stand apart.”

Each SpecTAPular event is created by one of the TAP member tour operators, and the rest of the members sell it to their customers. Previous editions have included USO-style shows in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and “The Great Gatsby”-themed weekends at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan.

In 2018, TAP will offer two very different experiences. The first will take place in New England, September 18-21, and is centered on the Big E, a state-fair-style festival. The second will be a houseboat excursion on Arizona’s Lake Powell, October 13-21.

The Big E

Officially known as the Eastern States Exhibition, the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts, is one of the largest annual events in the Northeast, serving as a state fair for all the New England states combined.

“It’s all six New England States coming together at one time,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a huge fair, carnival and circus, with the most incredible food.”

TAP member Richard Durgan of Durgan Travel will be coordinating this SpecTAPular and is arranging for participating groups to have a full day of fun at the Big E, as well as excursions to some of the other popular attractions in the area. The itinerary will include a day in the Berkshires with a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and an evening event at the Yankee Candle headquarters in nearby South Deerfield.

The trip will also include a visit to Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts.

“It’s the best Shaker representation in the country,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a working Shaker village. When we go there, we’ll do a lot of hands-on stuff.”

The event has been timed to coincide with New England’s popular foliage season, and several TAP members are offering longer fall foliage tours that will include the SpecTAPular portion in Massachusetts along with other destinations and activities.

Lake Powell

About a month after the Big E, a different SpecTAPular will unfold out west, where up to 110 guests will enjoy a nine-day, eight-night tour from Phoenix to Salt Lake City that will include a five-day houseboat excursion on Arizona’s Lake Powell.

“We’re going to be on 75-foot, luxurious houseboats,” said Jason Murray of Southwest Adventure Tours, the TAP operator coordinating this tour. “They each have five or six staterooms with queen beds and satellite TV. They have a hot tub on deck and a full kitchen. It’s basically a floating home that takes them around with all the amenities of a house itself. They have couches and chairs that you can lounge on throughout the day and waterslides you can fly off into the water.”

The houseboat will be piloted by professional crew, and the all-inclusive tour will feature meals served either on board the boats or on the docks where they tie up at night. Guests will be able to enjoy the landscape of Lake Powell, which is surrounded by towering, colorful sandstone cliffs, and participate in active exploration if they wish.

“Each houseboat will be carrying kayaks and will have a powerboat,” Murray said. “So people can go waterskiing, wakeboarding or tubing. They can go fishing off the houseboat or take the powerboat out to fish. We’ll also go hiking up some of the slot canyons to scenic areas in and around the lake.”

In addition to the active options, participants will be treated to astronomer programs that highlight the area’s clear night skies.

For more information on either event, visit

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.