How’s this for a dream vacation? Imagine floating through the European countryside, Tuscany, the French wine country, or the Alps. Wait—it gets better. You check in to a five-star hotel, and then dine in a magnificent, historic castle. There is a serene tranquility in gently drifting over some of Europe’s most spectacular countryside.
The entire Buddy Bombard travel program succeeds so well because of his exceedingly creative spirit. From his judgment in the choice of hotels, pilots, take-off sites to even designing a better burner and basket for his balloons. This very original program bears all the signs of an incredibly creative person who has spent the last 42 years designing romantic 1st class adventures for himself and his many friends. This is something he runs personally, serving as a pilot and welcoming host for his guests. He is there for every trip he created, and still directs with much pleasure. His company has reached the maximum size Mr. Bombard envisioned, and his attention is now turned to fine tuning his operation to even more exacting standards of perfection and client satisfaction.
Bombard’s clients are worldly, making them ideal travel companions. As they float in his gaily flowered balloons, drifting just above treetops and church steeples, the European countryside drifts slowly below them. Buddy Bombard’s Europe is one of those vacation secrets known to travel aficonados. His trips occur during January and February, and again in August through October. The itineraries include the towns, hotels, castles and manors of thoroughly established Europeans whom Buddy has befriended during decades of business and social associations.
Each trip focuses on a unique region of Italy, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland or France. A maximum of three balloons, each with a maximum of six guests, take flight. Buddy Bombard personally guides and escorts the group on every trip.
During flight, passengers often hold friendly conversations with welcoming locals just feet below their baskets. It’s always amusing when the pilots choose a farmhouse or picturesque village to slowly descend for a friendly chat and perhaps a convivial coffee, or a glass of local wine.
Only 1st class hotels and chateaux are chosen for this program, and are all well-known for the exceptional quality of their service and their charm. Each trip has approximately as many staff as guests. Each balloon has three uniformed ground crew as well a licensed pilot, all chosen for their superior skills and out-going personalities. They all speak English, and have a lot to do with the remarkable camaraderie that stems from sharing such an unusual adventure with the interesting people Buddy’s programs attract. There are no age restrictions for participation in a Bombard trip.
Buddy’s American balloon pilots, each having between 15 and 27 years experience in flying his balloons, know the terrain they fly over, like the palms of their hands. They are always in close touch with the weather department of the local airport. The ground-based European guides for each trip are all highly educated and are selected because of their knowledge, sincerity and friendliness and for their untiring efforts to ensure guests spectacular views, and a deep understanding of the places they visit.
The highly competitive world of adventure travel these days is an arena of one-upmanship, elephant polo in Jaipur, following Scott’s path through Antarctica, or birding in Tibet. But Buddy Bombard’s excursions offer a spectacular opportunity to experience a region
fully, both on the ground and floating through the landscape, providing vacations even the most worldly individuals find unique.
In the end it is not just the highly original daily balloon voyages that impress people. It is how Buddy has researched, created, organized and blended the sightseeing, the private visits, the sumptuous meals and the fine hotels into a surprisingly enjoyable whole, that leads so many of his guests to come back to do another trip with him so often. He really enjoys the entertainment he creates for his guests, and it seems to be working well. Last season, 32% of his guests were taking their 2nd, 5th or 10th trip with Buddy. One lady from Naples, Florida has completed her 23rd such Bombard Adventure, an unusually attractive way to enjoy some of the most interesting and beautiful places in Europe.
Come join Buddy on his romantic European balloon adventures. Become part of the endless discoveries and warm receptions. Balloons are pure symbols of joy and happiness and with them we create smiles and generous hospitality wherever we go.
When we arrive in our balloons we are no longer tourists but rather extremely interesting travelers and everyone wants to meet us. Balloons have no other purpose than to make people happy, and to this end they are monumentally successful. It’s rare for travelers to have the meaningful contact with local people in foreign lands that one does with him.
By blending his Bombard style of ballooning and his highly skilled staff, with a full program of well thought out sightseeing, luxurious dining and superior hotels, the result is a truly unusual, brilliantly delivered and fulfilling experience. His well-travelled guests often say that their Bombard Balloon Adventures are the most interesting vacations they have ever taken.
As a past guest once told us, “You guys are really in the entertainment business. You give us a new show every day.”
We are all still enjoying what we do very much. As one of our lady guests told us, “I’m really pleased for you. I can see it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
Back in 1964, Buddy Bombard founded Chalet Club, a highly successful travel organization of 14,000 members for whom he created and escorted many unusual soft adventure programs. Typical offerings of 1 to 10 days included skeet and trap shoots, scuba diving school and trips, balloon weekends, Grand Canyon river raft trips, wilderness horseback trips in the Rockies and glider soaring in Sugarbush, Vermont. And then, in 1970 Buddy bought his first balloon for the Chalet Club.
Several years later Buddy trained Malcolm Forbes for his FAA balloon pilot’s license and years later, Malcolm recognized Buddy with his annual Chateau Balleroy award for Buddy’s outstanding contribution to the ballooning world.
Buddy holds a multi-engine airplane license with 1,500 hours as pilot in command, and in 42 years accrued more than 5,000 hours as a commercial balloon pilot
During 22 years of active competitive sailing, Buddy completed two transatlantic crossings in small yachts and served as first-string crew member during four America’s Cup defenses aboard Vim, Weatherly, Constellation and Intrepid.u
For complete information and a brief video tour, check out our website: www.buddybombard.com.
Or call toll free (800) 862-8537.
To read the entire article, and view all the photos, please view the Art of the Times winter – spring 2012 issue as a PDF above.