Go Mexico Guide Interview (January 2011)

GM Guide Tequila Tour

Experience Tequila in Go Mexico Guide

Welcome to the Friday Explorer series on Go Mexico Guide. The Friday Explorer aims to promote tour services throughout Mexico that may be of interest to a wide range of travelers.

Today I’m pleased to welcome Clayton Szczech representing Experience Tequila.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your business.

I’m Clayton Szczech, owner and operator of Experience Tequila. I’m a lifelong traveler, former teacher and social worker who decided to invent my dream job- leading tequila tours- in 2008. I’m bilingual and have been traveling, living and working in Mexico since 1995.

Where in Mexico does Experience Tequila operate?  Tell us about some of your featured tour itineraries.

I operate exclusively in Tequila Country – the state of Jalisco in central-western Mexico. I operate 5-day, 10-day and custom itineraries. Most tours include the village of Tequila and Guadalajara. Many include the Highlands tequila region and the Costa Alegre (‘Joyful Coast’). I organize several trips a year around special festivals – Day of the Dead, St. Patrick’s Day, Mexican Independence Day, etc.

Please talk a little about what makes Experience Tequila tours so unique.

I call them “group tours for people who don’t do group tours.” I personally handle all the logistical details of transportation, lodging, distillery visits, etc. And I’m on-hand day and night to assist with interpretation, advice and trouble-shooting. I’m there to help my guests experience more of Mexico, not less.

These aren’t package tours where you are insulated from the local culture behind huge motor coaches and nagging guides.

I limit my groups to 10 people or less so as not to create an impassable barrier between my guests and my local friends. Not to mention that some of the special craft distilleries we visit couldn’t physically accommodate many more than 10 people at a time.

Speaking of which, unlike other well-known Tequila package tours, I don’t just take my guests to the huge brands as a captive audience. I do think it’s important to include some of the larger and better-known distilleries, as some of them do a great job and their history is undeniably part of tequila culture. But I also take my guests to places they have never heard of, places whose tequila is jealously guarded in Mexico rather than exported, and family-owned distilleries doing things the way their great-great-grandparents did in the 19th century.

Quite literally no one is offering what I do.

Are the tours offered by Experience Tequila all-inclusive or geared more toward the independent traveler in Mexico?

Like I said, they are something of a hybrid. “Independent-minded” describes most of my guests well. So does “curious.” Again, I don’t work with people who want to feel as if they weren’t in Mexico. But I make sure people are safe, comfortable and able to access the activities that interest them. Sometimes that means I’m hosting a young couple in their early 20s and their parents. After we visit the distilleries there is always ample free time. So I can point the couple towards a cantina or a marketplace or whatever they are after and say “have at it,” while personally accompanying the older folks to a nice restaurant and maybe a concert.

So they aren’t the kind of trips that usually come to mind when you hear “all-inclusive.” However, the trip cost does include almost everything! Lodging, transportation, food, distillery visits, tequila tastings and 24-7 guide services are included. Airfare, bar tabs, and a couple meals (so that people have time to explore on their own) are not. I am confident in saying you can’t get the type of guide service I offer for anywhere near the price from anyone else. I want these trips to be accessible to working people, young people and retired people.

Are you currently offering any special rates or promotions? How should someone go about booking a tour with Experience Tequila?

My rates are the best in the business, period. Even if a traveler is fluent in Spanish and conversant with Mexican culture, they would struggle to do as much as I offer for as little money. Due to my strong and long-standing relationships in the Tequila region, I get great deals on everything, and personal relationships also allow me access to distilleries and other out-of-the-way attractions that aren’t accessible to the general public. That said, I do offer even more attractive prices to pre-formed groups, for early payment and for payment in cash. I organize, sell and guide these trips myself, so all folks have to do is email or call me.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the tours offered by Experience Tequila?  Where can our readers go for more information?

Well, I’d like to address the concerns a lot of folks currently have about safety in Mexico. There are a few places in Mexico, mostly in the north, that are not good places to visit. On the other hand, the central-west Tequila region is as safe as the nicest destinations in the US and Europe. I have been going to Mexico regularly for over 15 years, and never had a single problem. My guests always remark about how Tequila and environs feels like the safe, friendly small towns you hardly find in the US anymore. As you know, Mexicans are proud hosts and go out of their way to ensure people have a good time. This is particularly true in the Tequila region, where people are eager to share their unique culture and the wonderful beverage to which it gave rise.

For more information on my trips, please check out ExperienceTequila.com, call or email. Thanks!

Thanks Clayton, the tours sound fantastic! Cheers!

I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. A special thanks to Clayton for participating and please contact him directly with all tour-related inquiries. You can also find Experience Tequila on Twitter (@tequilatrips) and Facebook.

If you’d like to see your tour services featured on the Friday Explorer Series please contact me.

All photos are the property of Experience Tequila.

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The new home of Experience Tequila/Mezcal.

After ten years, we’ve rebranded and moved all of our tours to one website for clarity and ease of booking. Welcome!