Two women with deep roots in the Vashon community have joined forces to help visitors experience the best the Island has to offer through their new business, Vashon Vacations.
Susan McCabe and Charlotte Tiencken launched their new endeavor last month and are acting as a concierge service, providing suggestions and creating packages for day, weekend and weeklong stays, including themed weeks where visitors immerse themselves in visual arts, theater or a multitude of other Island activities.
The duo first began talking about creating such a business a couple of years ago, they said, as a way to share Vashon’s artistic community with a broader audience.
At the time, the two women were thinking, “What could we do to promote the Island and all the interesting, fascinating, talented people who live here?” Tiencken recalled recently.
Now their vision is coming to fruition, and they hope to assist a range of people — individuals, families and groups — with Vashon excursions and give a boost to the Island economy, especially in the off-season.
“I believe it is time to package the products Vashon already has … to improve the economy on Vashon,” McCabe said. “Our goal is to involve as many businesses as possible.”
They note they are open to partnering with any individual or business that offers a high-quality experience.
“We want to promote the best and the brightest and the cream of the crop,” McCabe said.
In September, they will serve a group from Microsoft coming to the Island for a corporate enrichment experience. McCabe and Tiencken will arrange a full menu of activities for them, they said: kayaking, horseback riding, birding hikes and golf. They will also provide lunch, transportation and possibly a workshop.
Opportunities for people to spend a week here and learn from some of Vashon’s most talented residents are also on the docket. What they’re calling “A Week of Visual Arts,” for example, is scheduled for September and includes two two-day workshops, one with tile artist Clare Dohna and the other with oil painter Pam Ingalls. A theater workshop in November is modeled after the same idea and offers workshops with Island theater luminaries. More ideas for immersion weeks are in the works, they said, including outdoor adventures, a spa week and a food week, which would call upon Vashon’s many farmers and cooks.
The two women are now focusing their energies on marketing. Their website, www.vashonvacations.com, is up and running, as is their Facebook page, and they plan to reach out to several organizations that focus on travel to the Northwest.
While it may be that the business will draw people from far-flung places, they note a fully planned Vashon vacation may also appeal to those who live close by but have never ventured here.
“A lot of people in Seattle and Tacoma have never been here … and it really does take you to a different world,” McCabe said.
As the business grows, both women plan to keep their day jobs. McCabe is the program director for Vashon Park District, and Tiencken is the managing director of Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre. Combined, they have spent more than 20 years on Vashon and say they are looking forward to sharing the best of Vashon with others in a way that also benefits the Island.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” McCabe said.