Naming Fort Myers Beach their first home on U.S. soil since marrying in 2004, U.K.-born Ursula and Richard Cooper are quite the couple. They've been in the travel and entertainment business all their lives; those two passions have intertwined around this couple to create the perfect entrepreneurial endeavor a hands-on concierge travel company that takes guests on the "back-road/side" tours of which most jet-setters miss out.
Named URTravels, Ursula and Richard (well-known as Richie C., as in the local singing and dancing entertainer performing at the latest nightclubs and resorts) have always had a passion for travel. In fact, the duo has organized a large group of Richie C. friends and fans on an annual Richie C. cruise that sails around the Caribbean and beyond. Aside from the cruise, as Ursula hails from Cork, Ireland, and Richie C. from England, the two always enjoyed visiting their homeland annually.
"First, it started with a few friends and fans of Richard, asking if they can join us on our trip out to Ireland, and we said of course, please join us," Ursula explained. "Then, the next year, more friends and fans asked to join, and then more and more, and it became a big and fun excursion for a great group of people. We take care of all the plans and travel, taking them on a 'detour' trip to Ireland, Scotland and England these aren't cookie cutter trips? seeing things that are usually missed on standard tours. You're really meeting the characters of the country, and every night, there's music and dancing and song."
Above, a travel group of URTravels, at the lakes of Killarney, Ireland, with Fort Myers Beach residents including Jim and Sue Herron and Nick and Linda Dundee, as well as many residents from Bayside Estates. Photo courtesy RICHARD COOPER.
In fact, the U.K. tours have become so popular, URTravels has expanded to two trips, and just added a very special Tuscan Valley, Italy tour, enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of chocolate, olive oil and wine.
"Our first trip to Ireland this year is a very spiritual one Sept. 4 to 12 through Galway, Killarney, Kinsale and Dublin, and includes a visit to Our Lady of Knock shrine," Ursula said. "Anything our guests would like to see, we are here to take them. If they want to know the best place to purchase Waterford Crystal, hand-crafted crosses or anything else, we'll take them there. We're at their service 24 hours a day before and during the trip, to make sure you have the most memorable trip of your life. I'll have guests call at 3 a.m. asking for assistance to connect to their families overseas through Skype anything we can do, we'll do for them."
Everything but the airfare is included in the price of a ticket, from the luxury travel coaches, Irish-born-and-bred trip historians, admission to most of the attractions and five-star meals to the first-class lodging and 24-hour concierge assistance.
The cost for the first nine-day Irish excursion is $1,758 per person.
The second "Spring Fling" trip is a broad overview of the most famous sights of Ireland, traveling through Shannon, Killarney, Cork (the gourmet capital of the world) and Dublin, Sept. 12 to 20, seeing St Patrick's Cathedral, kissing the Blarney Stone and even an all-inclusive Medieval evening buffet in an authentic Irish castle. It also includes a tour trip to Cobh, the last stop for the Titanic before its unforgettable journey across the Atlantic.
"It's a beautiful museum. You feel like you are really back in time. They have such wonderful artifacts, with remnants/letters of people who wrote to their families before setting sail," Ursula said. "These trips are so meaningful, and also so fun. Really, it's whatever our guests want to see, and we're there 24/7 to make sure that happens."
The Spring Fling trip is $1,788 per person, again, airfare not included.
"We really take them full-circle on these trips. For those with ancestry in the U.K., we take them to see their past, see where their families came from. And then the Titanic museum. It really puts so much in perspective. It's a true journey," Ursula said. "And the nights always end with so much fun, folklore, singing and dancing. We know most of the hotel owners, so we can get better prices for our guests than many travel agencies."
Following their U.K. tours, Ursula and Richie C. are hosting an Italian tour through the Tuscan region, labeled the "Wine, Olive Oil and Chocolate Tour," Oct. 26 to Nov. 5, followed by a 16-day trans-Atlantic cruise back home, Nov. 5 to 21.
"Our guests wanted to go further, so we've created this lovely trip to Italy. You'll travel and taste the famous vineyards of the Tuscan valley, as well as see the amazing sights of this beautiful country, including Alba, Asti, Pisa, Lucca, Chianti, Pienza, Assisi, San Gimignano and Rome," Ursula said.
The nine-day Tuscan trip is $2,100. Ursula and Richard plan to offer a local complimentary Tuscan wine and cheese gathering to preview and pre-explore what the trip will feature. Call the duo for the official venue and date, 239-243-0792.
The 16-day trans-Atlantic cruise from Rome to Fort Lauderdale, starts at $1,029.
Last on the list of scheduled trips is the one that started it all: The Richie C. Cruise, an eight-day getaway through the Caribbean aboard the Royal Caribbean's "Independence of the Seas" Jan. 17 to 25.
Enjoy all the fun the Caribbean has to offer, as well as the singing and dancing entertainment for which Richie C. is so well known, plus souvenir gifts."
"We already have many guests from the beach booked, and there is still room for more," he said.
Tickets for the cruise start at $675. Be sure to visit URTravels.com for the complete lineup of all of these great trips abroad. For further information, call 239-243-0792 or email URTravelsWorld@gmail.com.
"We just love making our guests' longtime wishes come true," Ursula concluded. "Recently, a Fort Myers Beach woman's wish was to celebrate her 80th birthday in an Irish castle. We took her and her family out there and she saw everything she wanted to see all her life, and it was magnificent. These are memories that really last a lifetime!"