Ken is the grandson of Edward John Sooley. In 2005 Ken created CapeRace Cultural Adventures, his intent was to test-market a new concept in experiential travel and he continues to manage the company today for the curious, culturally inclined traveller. Participants can immerse themselves in Newfoundland’s culture through self-guided tours, they are provided exclusive access to three architecturally unique homes and can set their own pace for exploring the beautiful Newfoundland coast, creating spontaneous, authentic experiences with Newfoundland’s people and places.
How do the experiences you offer at CapeRace give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of Newfoundland?
CapeRace is about personalization, celebration, and setting the stage for experiencing Newfoundland in ways that create authentic connections with the people, culture, and coastal treasures. We are different by choice, and proud of it. Our four, seven, and 10 day trademarked Eco‑Culture Experience™ trips are highly customized journeys that take our guests into the heart of Newfoundland’s culture. Catering to small groups of two to 12 people, everyone is equipped with a Traveller’s Diary, a self‑published customized guidebook. We also design individual journeys based on a series of online questions and telephone calls about their travel preferences and interests.
How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
We provide the platform and tools and set the stage. The rest is up to the traveller. We have added three Newfoundland Culinary Adventures to our line up that have been selling very well. Each trip is different depending on the traveller. We always try to stay ahead of the trend, in this case we ad adventure to the culinary experience in a very unique and spontaneous way.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?
Creating a situation to spontaneously discover the culture and natural wonder of Newfoundland on a small, intimate basis. Eco‑Culture Experience™ trips are micro adventures carefully designed to ensure guests arrive at the right places and meet charming people who will invite them into their hearts and homes. Experiential travel to us is about immersion, exploration, discovery, and waiving the ‘no touch’ rules that come with mass tourism.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
Culinary. We are using food as a conduit to crossing cultural barriers, allowing travelers to peer further into the rich Newfoundland cultural scene.
What sets CapeRace apart from other self-guided travel companies?
Creating ways for guests to become involved in the communities they visit in a self‑guided, unstructured travel mode is how we differentiate our company. While there are endless self‑guided tours and touring books, these only tell you where to go, they don’t create the “optional opportunity” of the exact type of interactions that are important to an individual guest. That’s the CapeRace difference. Our 100 page, Traveller’s Diary is like a story written just for you. We work with lots of non‑traditional partners. Because an Eco‑Culture Experience™ trip is personalized, we have relationships with hundreds of people in St. John’s, through to Bonavista, all through the Avalon Peninsula. Our partners are mostly made of local residents and small businesses.
Establishing these relationships is key to our chance meeting approach as the ultimate connection and experience occurs when both parties are not expecting to meet each other. It’s also a tool to deliver economic benefits to areas that would not generally see this type of traffic. The art of connection that we have cultivated over the years is really a science if you have the right partnerships in place. To a certain degree it’s a numbers game and we slightly change the odds. Once we hosted a mom with children aged 8 and 14. As part of their journey, we arranged for them to hang out for a day with a local mom and her same‑aged kids. Our partners allow us to personalize experiences without influencing the real experience.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Make sure they experiential component of the trip is not staged or directly funded by the operator. Also, some experiences slowly migrate from being real to staged as they age. Go with an operator that can prove fresh new experiences. We call ours “First Customer Experiences”. For example, we can send hikers to places that have no trails, ensuring the tourists “footprint” is spread out along with the economic benefits.