By Alesandra Dubin Posted June 29, 2011, 11:30 AM EDT
This summer, there's a new option for a group retreat or incentive trip in the American Southwest. Papillon Airways Inc. and Forever Houseboats have partnered to create the “Fly and Float Experience,” programs lasting three days and two nights. The first two days are aboard Forever Houseboat’s signature 59-foot XT or 70-foot Millennium houseboat, with a crew to beach and anchor the vessel. The final day offers a tour on Papillon’s EC-130 B4 EcoStar helicopter.
Each Forever Houseboat has private staterooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a spacious living area, flat-screen TVs, climate control, a rooftop sundeck, a water slide, and, on the 70-foot Millennium models, a hot tub on the top deck. The 59-foot XT sleeps 10 people in four queen-size staterooms and one queen-size sleeper sofa; the 70-foot Millennium houseboat sleeps 12 in four private queen-size staterooms and two queen-size sleeper sofas. Papillon’s EC-130 B4 EcoStar has an oversize cabin and forward-facing, raised platform, theater-style seating with 180-degree unobstructed views.
Three different tours are offered.
The Grand Canyon West experience sets sail from Callville Bay Resort & Marina on Lake Mead in southern Nevada, 45 minutes from the Strip. On the third day, guests will experience Papillon’s tour of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Grand Wash Cliffs, extinct volcanoes, and a 4,000-foot-descent into the west rim of the Grand Canyon, touching down by the Colorado River in time to explore the Native American Hualapai lands with a champagne picnic. The flight tours the Las Vegas Strip before returning to McCarran International Airport. The price begins at $4,975.
The Eldorado Canyon experience takes to Lake Mead, with the final day spent aboard Papillon to Eldorado Canyon, southern Nevada’s oldest gold mine. After the tour of the mines, guests will have the option of exploring the rugged desert landscape via jeep, quad, or horseback. The price begins at $4,575.
And the Antelope Valley experience is an Arizona-based journey, beginning with a houseboat launched from Lake Powell’s Antelope Point Marina, in Page, Arizona. The 186-mile-long lake offers beaches and vistas of the Antelope Valley, as well as boating, skiing, kayaking, and fishing on the water, and hiking throughout the surrounding landscape. For the final day, Papillon will take guests aboard a Cessna 208 for a private tour of Lake Powell and Monument Valley. The price begins at $5,395.
Each package comes with round-trip ground transportation from all major Las Vegas resorts for tours originating at Lake Mead’s Callville Bay Resort & Marina (transportation to Antelope Point Marina is provided from all Page hotels), boat and helicopter accommodations for as many as seven people (the Cessna 208 seats as many as nine), tie-down and untying services for houseboats moored in beach coves, and a private helicopter pilot-tour guide.