“I spent my childhood on a beautiful farm in the South Kinangop, in the foothills of Kenya’s Aberdare Mountains,” says Geoffrey. “We shared the land with the local Kikuyu tribespeople and the full complement of wild East African animals. Hyenas barked and whooped outside our windows. Snakes regularly crossed our front lawn, as did the occasional leopard. One night, a rhinoceros barrelled into our house with such force the impact shook us all awake.”
Abercrombie & Kent CEO Geoffrey Kent was destined to become the head of a renowned luxury tour operator. Born while his parents were on safari in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), he spent his childhood on a farm in the Aberdare Highlands of Kenya. At 17, he became the first person to travel the 5,000 miles between his home and Cape Town, South Africa, by vintage motorcycle, sparking his interest in the travel business and leading to his co-founding of A&K with his parents. Taking full control of the company in 1969, Kent, along with his wife, Jorie Butler Kent, expanded it from a small firm that offered trips through East and Central Africa to a powerhouse in the outfitting business known for scouring the world for exotic destinations while constantly finding new and unusual ways to delight its clientele (Courtesy: Travel + Leisure magazine).
Geoffrey JW Kent, born July 14 1942, is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, an international luxury travel company. He is credited with introducing the first luxury photographic African Safari in 1962.
Geoffrey Kent was born while his parents, Colonel John and Valerie Kent, were on an extended safari in Zambia. The Mother Continent raised the boy and made the man. For the first few years of his formal schooling, Geoffrey admits his Swahili was probably better than his English. His rites of passage through adolescence and into early adulthood read like scenes from an African boy’s own adventure. At 16, he rode a vintage motorcycle 5,000km from Nairobi to Cape Town. At 17, he climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. At 18, Geoffrey’s talent for polo took him to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in faraway Berkshire.He later saw service in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Malta.
Returning to Kenya for the holidays with friends from the UK in the early 1960s, Geoffrey and his parents established Abercrombie & Kent in 1962, to allow visitors to experience Africa without compromise to either comfort or authenticity - thus operating the first true luxury tented safaris, and essentially inventing the luxury photographic safari. The company's beginnings were modest; as Geoffrey Kent remembers, their first safaris were conducted with little more than "a Bedford truck and my mother's sterling silver ice bucket."In 1967, Colonel and Mrs. John Kent retired from active participation in the company, leaving their son to become Chief Executive Office. Recognizing the tremendous business opportunity in international travel, Geoffrey Kent decided to expand A&K's signature style of travel. In 1969, he began opening additional companies in Africa; in 1971 he met Jorie Ford Butler of Oak Brook, Illinois. She became a partner in the business and together they expanded A&K beyond the African continent. Abercrombie & Kent became a worldwide group of companies, first opening an office in London, then in Oak Brook, Illinois, followed by Melbourne, Australia.
Geoffrey Kent has devoted his life to redefining luxury adventure travel and building a truly global travel company. “Even as a teenager,” says Geoffrey, “I saw the future of safari as hunting with a camera, not with a gun."
JORIE BUTLER KENT
Jorie Butler Kent is a businesswoman, conservationist and professional photographer. She is the daughter of Paul and Marjorie Stresenreuter Butler, who founded Oak Brook, Illinois. She and Geoffrey Kent are co-owners of the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies. Today, Jorie leads A&K's conservation efforts as president of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP). Between her travels, Jorie has found time to be involved in numerous organizations, including the World Travel and Tourism Ecological Research Center, The Royal Geographical Society in London and The Explorer's Club in New York.
Kent is a founding member of the World Travel and Tourism Council. He served as a Chairman of the council for 6 years. He was inducted to the British Travel and Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame on April 17, 2012., and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards in 2014.
To the Ends of the Earth with Geoffrey Kent aired on the USA Network in 1994 with Lauren Hutton in Papua New Guinea and James Brolin in Kenya. The series received two nominations for the Cable ACE Award.
In 1982 Kent and then wife Jorie Butler Kent founded Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, a non-profit organization for protecting ecosystems and wildlife that also supports local communities. It was recognized by the World Travel and Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, Condė Nast Traveler with their World Savers Award for leadership in social responsibility, and by Travel + Leisure with their Global Vision Award for Leadership in Philanthropic Travel.
Kent was a player as Captain of the Rolex/Abercrombie & Kent team polo team, winning the U.S. Open twice, the U.S. Gold Cup, the Cartier International , and the World Open Championship.
Courtesy: Wikipedia and Abercrombie & Kent
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