Southington Chamber of Commerce resumes travel program for 2022

SOUTHINGTON — Italy and Spain are the 2022 destinations of the new travel program offered by the Southington Chamber of Commerce.

Barbara Hekeler, president and chief executive officer of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, explained that the chamber travel program is done in partnership with a national chamber program called Chamber International (CI) Destinations, which has been working with chambers across the country for over 25 years. Hekeler said CI Destinations is known for creating a more upscale experience in travel. The trips include a “personal host, high end hotels, quality restaurants” and the opportunity for clients to go on additional excursions while on the trip.

“We are excited to be partnering,” Hekeler said.

She noted the Southington Chamber of Commerce and CI Destinations began their partnership in 2019 with the first trip programmed for March 2020. The trip was canceled due to the pandemic.

The chamber plans to organize two trips per year. The program’s first trip was to Italy in March 2022. Hekeler said that the feedback from those that went to the first trip was “exceptional.” She said clients were excited about their experience, the details and tours.

The next trip will be in October with Spain as a destination. There is a discounted price for those who book the trip by May 31. Granada, Mijas and Seville are among the places travelers will visit.

“Because we were starting out in 2022, we picked two areas that tend to be very popular for people who are going to Europe for the first time,” she said. 

Hekeler explained that although CI Destinations works with many chambers, the chambers are not together at the same destination. Each chamber gets an opportunity to select the destination of their next trip.

For individuals who would like to request a destination, Hekeler suggested that they contact the chamber and the destination will get added to their list.

Next year’s trips have not been secured but the destinations might be Ireland and the Amalfi Coast, Hekeler said.

Chamber members and any other community members are welcome to go on these trips. 

“You can also have people travel with you from all over the country,” she said. 

Hekeler mentioned for that people who want to take advantage of the package options and have friends or family members traveling with them from other parts of the country, CI destinations will coordinate their travel also so everyone meets at one destination. Hekeler explained the agency offers a two-night trip extension in Madrid for those looking to stay longer.

Jeff Payne, owner of Commence Fitness Personal Training in Plantsville, said having a travel option through the chamber is “cool.” He mentioned that it is good to get to know other business owners and a good opportunity if the trips are offered at a lower cost. Although he doesn’t know all the details of the travel program Payne said he had heard of the upcoming Spain trip and might look into traveling with the chamber in the future.

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Reporter Karla Santos can be reached at [email protected].