novel explorations, patty suchy, teapot travel, tea tour, tea, travel, tea cruise
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This month we are interviewing Patty Suchy, owner of Novel Explorations and travel columnist for The Tea House Times.  Novel Explorations specializes in literary, tea and research travel throughout Great Britain but itineraries can take place anywhere in the world.


GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  For those of you unfamiliar with Patty, I can tell you from experience that she is a real pro!  Patty organized our tea cruise for The Tea House Times several years ago and it was absolutely perfect.  She goes well beyond what a traditional travel agent would do for you.  She will plan and coordinate every detail of your own unique group tour and be present, involved and even lead special discussions throughout the tour.  - Patty, what got you started in this business of planning such unique and enjoyable travel opportunities?

PATTY SUCHY/NOVEL EXPLORATIONS:   Thanks for the kind words.  About 15 years ago a friend wanted me to take a travel agent course offered at a local community college.  Well I took it and right away I knew I wanted to marry my love of reading with the love of travel – thus the formation of NOVEL EXPLORATIONS – Where Fiction and Travel Merge.

Soon after getting into the business, I knew that many of my clients wanted to go to Great Britain, so I knew I had to know more about this destination.    I then became one of the first 100 agents in the USA to get their Brit Agent certification from the British Tourist Authority.  This has proved a great asset over the years.


GAIL:  Please give us some examples of specialized tours you have planned.

PATTY:  I’ve done both land and sea (cruise) tours.  Perhaps one of my favorites was a cruise called Mystery, Suspense and Intrigue on the High Seas.  My keynote speaker was Nora Roberts.  Other authors and experts (e.g., a bounty hunter, screenwriter, FBI specialist, etc.)  were involved and on the week long cruise, the participants and guest speakers got to interact with each other.  Also we had some specialized visits on the islands we visited – like a behind the scenes talk by the Chief of Police at St. Thomas.

And I’ve done a lot of tours for readers and writers interested in the Regency period (the era Jane Austen wrote about).  A couple of years ago I offered The Romantic Road North, where we followed the coaching trail from London to Edinburgh, stayed in historic coaching inns along the way and visited properties and venues connected to the Regency period.

And more recently there have been the tea tours -- both cruises and land tours.  While the cruise such as the one we did together to Canada was fun and educational, I will say I’m partial to the land tea tours I do to Great Britain.  On one of my recent ones for the Royal-tea Club (out of Pennsylvania), we visited London and the Cotswolds (with side trips to the potteries in Stoke on Trent).  Of course there were lots of teas, but we had some very specialized visits and educational opportunities as well.  For example, the Director of  Bath’s Royal Theater invited us to her Georgian home and made us a specialty breakfast, similar to the types of foods that would have been served in Jane Austen’s era (and sometimes talked about in her books).  We also had Jane Pettigrew (tea expert) speak to us in London and enjoy afternoon tea with us at the Ritz.

I think a nice part of my tours is the evening meals we often share together.  Not only do people like the idea of getting to know their fellow travelers better, it’s a great way to relive the day’s events and pick up on things seen through another’s eyes.


GAIL:  What types of themes do you incorporate into your tours or explorations?

PATTY:  All Novel Explorations have an overriding literary or research theme, which allows the traveler an extraordinary opportunity to explore in depth a specific subject matter through specialized visits, expert seminars, and interesting discussions. The literary travel encompasses all genres, including romance, suspense, mystery, westerns, the paranormal, and historicals.  However, there is a new aspect to the tours -- themes revolving around the enjoyment of tea. These tea explorations (Teapot Travels) are just the beginning of an ever expanding interest in the tea arena.


GAIL:  If a group of friends or a tea room wanted to lead a tour to Great Britain tea rooms, what would be some of the highlights of the tour?

PATTY:  Of course teas at special venues would be included.  But we would be exploring all kinds of aspects with the overall theme of the tour being kept in mind.  For example I’m currently working on an itinerary for another tour for the Royal-tea Club.  This one will revolve around Queen Victoria and the Victorian era.  Of course we’ll be doing teas, but we’ll be visiting Victorian properties and gardens, including Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  We’ll throw in aspects of pottery of the era as well as some of the writers.  And there will be a steam train ride.   So all in all, the participant will go home with a good knowledge of Victorian things.

And I want to assure everyone that I always include time for shoppingJ


GAIL:  What other interests could be combined with a tea tour to truly make it unique?

PATTY:  A tea tour can also be combined with other passions such as gardening, literature, antiques or porcelains.   And usually there is an historical era to work things around.


GAIL:  Is it possible for a tea room owner to plan a tour through Novel Explorations, offer it to their customers, and actually attend the tour at a reduced fare or no cost?

PATTY:  If you're a tea room owner/business, Novel Explorations can help you develop a tour for your place of establishment. Join your clients and we can show you how your space on the tour can be of no cost to you (other than the many gifts and souvenirs you will want to bring back).


GAIL:  Can you assist in planning and arranging for workshops, guest speakers, and other outings as part of a specialized tour?

PATTY:  Absolutely, that’s really what my specialty is.   I want my tours to be chapters in people’s lives that they soon won’t forget.


GAIL:  Is there a minimum number of people/reservations needed to organize a tour through Novel Explorations?   

PATTY:  Groups usually are between 15 – 30 for land tours.    They can be much larger for cruise type tours.


GAIL:  Aside from tours, I am sure you could share your expertise with tea room owners by offering some wonderful and successful themed event ideas as well.  I see you will be speaking at World Tea Expo in Las Vegas - that would be a great opportunity to learn more.  What is the topic?

PATTY:  I am scheduled to speak at World Tea Expo on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.  The topic of my session is:  How to Incorporate Literary Events into Your Business for Added Profit.  Special events at tea rooms help to draw regular business.  The participant will learn how to create unique and interesting themed events while incorporating the best of literature.  They can sign up at  (Save 20 percent on seminars through April 22).   I’m going to help people go outside the box when they think of incorporating a literary themed event into their business.


GAIL:  Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Novel Explorations

PATTY:  The best aspect of what I do is the people I meet.  I have many repeat customers with many becoming lifelong friends.    And although I also have a tremendous amount of expertise from the tours I’ve put together, I especially like finding new things for new itineraries.

I still want to do a trans-Atlantic cruise.  I think this could be a tremendous opportunity for people to use time on the ship to explore the world of tea.

As I said I’m currently working on a Victorian Tea Tour for the fall of 2012.  So if anyone is interested in receiving more information on this, please contact me.


For more information, please contact Novel Explorations - Where Fiction and Travel Merge:

Patty  Suchy
Novel Explorations

815-714-2981    fax: 815-714-2981


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