Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Asheville-based tour operator Iran Luxury
Travel is launching a new package intended to introduce Iran to the world in a
new way: as a world-class skiing destination. Travel to
Iran has long been possible for the adventurous. After all, the country is
home to 19 historic and culturally significant sites on the UNESCO World
Heritage list, and is such an art-lovers dream that even the Metropolitan
Museum of Art has offered guided tours. But this is an opportune time for
Iran tour operators. With the international nuclear deal reached last week
and the loosening of visa restrictions in Tehran, the Guardian has reported
that officials there expect to see a spike in tourism. Steve Kutay, CEO
and founder of Iran Luxury Travel, says he hasn't exactly seen that flood of
new tourists — anyone who wants to see Iran probably falls into the
adventurous category in the first place, he says — but he believes it's
important for people to travel to Iran and dispel any myths or unrealistic
views they might have had of the country. The Iran that he met when he first
traveled there in the 1970s was a sophisticated and friendly country, a place
where people actually like Americans despite the whole "Axis of Evil"
thing. That's why he and his wife and business partner Pat Kutay launched
their first tour of Iran — an overview of the country's historic and
cultural centers — just a few months ago. And now they're aiming to
dispel a few myths about Iran's geography. "When you say Iran, people
think of the desert," Kutay says. But really, he explains, Iran's Alborz
mountain range offers skiing and snowboarding that are akin to the Swiss Alps:
open skiing rather than trails, powder that lasts well into the spring, plenty
of black and double black diamond runs, and lifts that reach up to 12,000
feet. "They have serious skiing over there," Kutay says, noting that ski
and snowboarding filmmaker Warren Miller has filmed in Iran. That ski
culture has attracted Europeans for years. In 2008, The Guardian declared,
"Iran's biggest secret: the skiing is great. " And Iran Luxury Tours
points out that the country's biggest resort, the Dizin Hotel — built for
the former Shah — is friendly to anglophones thanks to their
English-speaking staff and ski instructors. Dizin is the main focus of these
new packages from Iran Luxury Travel, though they are fully customizable,
meaning you can add a trip to the nearby Shemshak ski resort to try the
triple-black-diamond trails out there. All packages from the
Asheville-based company start with a minimum of two people, with services
including a driver, private car, a guide, and help with visa arrangements. A
four-night package for two at the Dizin ski resort runs at $950, which
includes a daily breakfast but not airfare. Kutay also recommends that
clients tack on one of the company's broader sightseeing tours of Iran to
help grasp the culture beyond just the apres-ski life in the Alborz range.
The Highlights of Iran tour runs you $2,400 for a week of travel around the
country. More good reads from T+L:
• World's Top 10 Cities
• Best Places to Travel in 2015
• The World's Most Beautiful Airport Approaches from Above
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Previous Article Madrid's Newest Restaurants are Drawing the City's
Coolest Crowds Asheville-based tour operator Iran Luxury Travel is
launching a new package intended to introduce Iran to the world in a new way:
as a world-class skiing destination.

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