Touch the Southwest was created by Bruce Sawyer out of a passion for exploring the wild places of the west, and his desire to share what he discovered with others.
It all started while on a three week vacation from his job as Executive Chef of United Bank of Denver’s Executive Dining Room. It was during this fall road-trip when Bruce first discovered the canyons and mesas of the Colorado Plateau. This meeting was to change the direction of his life forever. It’s funny how a place can affect you like that…
The following spring Bruce quit his job, liquidated almost everything he owned, and moved into the canyons near Moab where he spent the next five months camping out. At the end of that summer Bruce returned to university and the next six years were spent exploring the Plateau, both in person and in the halls of academia.
During these explorations Bruce got the idea for Touch the Southwest. He figured since he had been guiding his friends, he might as well take strangers and get paid for it. After all, what could be better than getting paid for something you’d be doing anyway? In 1996 he began his professional guiding career. And in 1998 he started Touch the Southwest and took clients camping.
These trips were not your usual camping trips, however. These were “cush-camping” trips for private families and small groups. Camp had all the amenities of a fine hotel; hot and cold running water, showers, toilets, comfortable beds with large down comforters and pillows, and a classically trained Chef to prepare all the meals. And everything was set up and waiting for the guests when they arrived from their day’s outing.
Doing these private cush-camping trips opened new doors into the luxury travel industry. One of these doors belonged to Stacy Fischer, daughter of the famous luxury “Travel Agent to the Stars,” Bill Fischer, owner of Fischer Travel in New York City, the world’s most exclusive travel agency. Working with Stacy allowed us to do some amazing high-end tours and events for some of the wealthiest people on Earth. To this day, Stacy and the agents at Fischer Travel continue to honor us by entrusting their clients to our care.
Our association with Fischer Travel led to us being invited into the “invitation only” international luxury travel network, Virtuoso: Specialists in the Art of Travel. In 2002, Virtuoso invited us to join them as an OnSite, their go-to luxury travel expert in the southwestern United States, and one of 140 On-Sites worldwide. Working with the agents within the Virtuoso network allowed us to expand our range of services and our areas of expertise. We began developing and producing complete vacations and events across an ever expanding territory. From fully guided adventure vacations to luxury corporate events, we were doing them all. And, we were doing them across the entire southwest.
Somewhere along the way, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine caught wind of what we were doing, and in 2008, Bruce Sawyer was named one of their Top 125 Travel Specialists of the World. For five years, 2008-2012, Bruce was honored by Condé Nast as their Top Travel Specialist in the southwestern United States.
In 2016, Bruce Sawyer celebrated his twentieth year as a professional guide on the Colorado Plateau. He also moved his family and business to Santa Fe, New Mexico to start offering mixed-group day-tours to destinations across northern New Mexico. Places like Taos, Chaco Canyon, and Bandelier National Monument.
We are proud of our tradition of excellence and we look forward to carrying it on in Santa Fe.