B&R Guides: Defying Definition
In a desperate attempt to adequately describe the people who lead B&R’s adventures around the world, we scoured the dictionaries of many international tongues.
We started with the English word host, “a person who receives or entertains other people as guests.” That seemed accurate, if incomplete, so we kept reading until we stumbled upon the French word raconteur, “a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way.” That felt right too, but we really knew we were getting closer when we found the Yiddish word mensch, “a person of integrity and honour.” Of course, we couldn’t leave fun out of the equation, so we reached back to the Greek word hedonikos, the root of hedonist, “a pleasure-seeker.”
After much deliberation, we concluded that in order to properly describe these incredible leaders, we’d need a word that combined the best of what it means to be a host, a raconteur, a hedonist, a mensch and so much more: a hoscondonmen!
But that sounded terrible, so we settled on Guide.
(A Hoscondonmen By Any Other Name)
B&R guides are a diverse lot, but you needn’t look too closely to see the many ties that bind them. Each one possess a drive for perfection, an insatiable curiosity about the world (and that which lies upon it), a youthful exuberance, an unholy amount of energy and an insatiable appetite for fun. These ideas remain at the root of how a guide moves, thinks and acts as they manage every moment of our trips.
They’re also relentless in their goal of crafting great experiences for our travellers. When they’re on the road, they wear more hats than Pharell Williams: exceptional hosts, leaders, performers, promoters, managers, interpreters, mechanics, coaches, connoisseurs and occasional selfie-takers.
In short: they’re exceptional travel companions of exemplary character.
Their interests extend well beyond the open road, too; their unique skills bring special value to each trip they guide. Among the ranks of B&R guides are trained architects, lawyers and environmental policy wonks, Olympic athletes, musicians and even a veterinarian—because when you’re following a truffle-hunting dog through Piemonte, you don’t want to take any chances.
The Sidneys and the Martha
They’re Like the Oscars, Only Less Rigged
While their CVs may boast some impressive credentials, for B&R guides, actions speak louder than words. That’s why each year we make time at our annual Guide Gathering to honour those guides who manage to exceed even the exceptionally high standards of service expected of B&R.
Staff and co-guides nominate those guides who have consistently gone above and beyond—by putting on exceptional events, facilitating trip-making surprises, mentoring their fellow guides or anything else worthy of recognition—for a Sidney award, named for our co-founder Sidney Robinson. A second award, the Martha, is awarded to the female guide who embodies the qualities of our intrepid co-founder (and Sidney’s sister) Martha Butterfield: hardworking, athletic, kind, generous, curious, adventurous, keen, funny and so much more.
The winners represent the very best of B&R, and as you can imagine, the competition is fierce. From diving into the cold (and dirty) waters of a canal to retrieve a lost wallet to driving miles and miles off route to retrieve a forgotten pair of pants, tales of guiding excellence abound.
Choosing who receives the award is without doubt among the toughest choices we make in a year, but we like to think that with a guide pool this talented, the real winners are our travellers (we’re corny like that).