PRESS RELEASE: Ahipara Luxury Travel
Jean-Michel Jefferson, co-founder of leading destination management company Ahipara Luxury Travel, has just been named on the prestigious US-based Travel + Leisure’s A-List for a remarkable seventh year in a row.
Only 139 travel agents and destination specialists from around the world made the grade this year.
The print and digital travel industry magazine reaches nearly a million readers each month. Jefferson is recommended as delivering the highest calibre experiences in New Zealand.
“It’s hard to have a conversation with Jefferson and resist the urge to jump on the next flight to New Zealand,” the judges say. “No request is off-limits for the South Island–based travel advisor, who counts professional photographers, fly-fishing guides, chefs, and farmers among the friends he can tap on behalf of his clients.
“For clients interested in Maori culture, Jefferson sets them up with a Maori chef and outdoorsman who leads an excursion in the Kaimanawa Range for a day of hunting, gathering, cooking, and hiking.”
Jefferson’s clients in the main are from the United States and Western Europe. They have the type of wealth that rivals the total sum of the New Zealand economy, so can afford the minimum daily spend of NZ$1500 a couple for his exclusive adventures. Ahipara has put together trips for its clients ranging from NZ$5000 to nearly NZ$1 million.
“People want to get to the essence of New Zealand, what makes it different, not to only be helicoptered around boutique wineries and lodges as if that’s creative and the best the country can offer,” he says.
The accolade joins similar unmatched feats in New Zealand with other global travel go-to-guides – Conde Nast for six years, Wendy Perrin’s WOW list 2014-16 (both with 2017 to come) and in 2015 Traveller Made’s “Most Innovative Experiences in the World” award.
Ahipara Luxury Travel, which is based out of the Jefferson’s historic home in Lauderdale, Central Otago, has seen double digit year-on-year growth, with 25% of its sales from referrals.
Jefferson, who is part French and part English, comes from a robust commercial background before arriving in New Zealand with his Kiwi wife and co-founder of Ahipara, Karen. He was the aviation specialist for PriceWaterhouse in Russia during the 1990s.