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Why I Ride: Grace Heimsness

On the first birthday Joe Strommer didn’t have, his dad walked into the shop with one of the dogs and a dozen doughnuts. It had been four months since Joe’s suicide, and what had been a brutal winter was just beginning to thaw.

The dog, immediately familiar with the worn wood of the shop floor, curled up in the corner as Erv passed around our surprise breakfast and sat heavily on a stool. He wasn’t a big man, but he was an old man with a hunched back and poor vision, and a terrible driver; Joe used to joke with us about how his pops was going to kill him one of these days. We continued to work on morning repairs, steady but unhurried, while Erv began to talk.

Joe was a year-round regular at the shop, which is saying something in Minnesota. While he towered over most of us at well over six feet tall, more often than not he could materialize quietly in front of you, as if out of nowhere. He’d ride through each winter on a massive 29er and sail through the less bitter seasons on a singlespeed. Although he bought a Domane from us in 2011 or ’12, I don’t remember him ever joining us on a shop ride—he preferred instead to ride alone.
Trek Travel guide Grace Heimsness previously worked at Rydjor Bike Shop
But his style of riding didn’t matter to us so much as his love of turning the pedals. His was the sort of company you appreciate in the long off-season and wish you could slow down enough to enjoy in the summer. On season and off, he’d often bring us doughnuts in the morning or beer in the afternoon, and in the latter case he’d wait until we closed for the day so we could all sit down and talk about nothing in particular. His smile was easy, if crooked, and we happily matched it.

While Joe could be quiet when he came to keep us company, his was the sort of silence you didn’t mind. And maybe it ran in the family; on those occasions his dad accompanied him to the shop, Erv was more often than not content to sit back for the duration of their visit, saying nothing, only bending over now and then to untangle dog leashes. But this April morning, Erv had something to say. It started with a single story, one yarn piling on top of the other, until it became a sort of eulogy meant just for us. It was what we had been waiting for while dealing with the shellshock that is the unreasonable loss of a close friend, and the overdue realization that a customer is more than just that. If only for a moment, Erv brought Joe back to us.

I never had the chance to ride with Joe Strommer, but I have no doubt what he looked like in the saddle. On the Easter Sunday before he died, we passed each other mid-ride, neither of us stopping long enough to trade pleasantries. We only saluted each other with a crooked grin and one hand reaching into the expanse of asphalt between us, open palms raised. It was one of the first calm days of spring, and we both knew without saying that there’s no good reason to stop when it’s warm enough to keep going. I’d never seen Joe look happier.

For awhile after his death, I regretted not stopping to talk to Joe that day. But when Erv stopped by that April morning to give us breakfast and leave us with a piece of Joe that we could hold onto, I remembered the importance of an early spring bike ride in Minnesota. I understood that Joe and I had passed each other knowing that, even more than the world, we ourselves are best seen from the seat of a bicycle. And I understood that that was enough.
At Trek Travel, we believe the world is best seen from the seat of a bike
Grace Heimsness is a first-year guide for Trek Travel. Join her in Utah this Spring»

N + Project One

How many bikes does a person really need? The old joke makes the answer a moving target: N + 1, with N being the number of bikes already stuffed into your garage. But would that equation be different if you built one bike, from the ground up, with the exact spec, color, gearing, and fit you want, without compromise? If you got to build your one bike?

That’s the idea behind Project One: build one bike at a time, for one rider at a time. A bike unlike all others. Every wish and whim considered. trek’s custom bike program was launched to the cycling world over ten years ago. It was a daring departure for a large bike manufacturer, allowing customers to specify their individual bike’s part and color. Upsetting our busy paint and production line was risky, and creating a custom shop alongside it was definitely a bold move–one that has since gained fans across the world.

Fast forward a decade, and ever-increasing demand has warranted a new $2 million paint lineat Trek that must be seen to be believed. Paint Manufacturing Engineer Bob Seibel has been researching paint plants for several years now, including custom paint lines at similar businesses like the Harley-Davidson Motor Company in nearby Milwaukee. Bob rides a Harley, and is always happy to visit the mother ship–but this time, the objective was to solidify plans for the best painting line in the industry. One of the first requirements he identified was the need for a specific and separate location for his crew of painters.
Design your own Project One bicycle on Trek Travel's Trek Factory Experience
“Before the new paint line, P1 painters never had their own space: it had always been shared with the mainline work, with custom stuff done on a second shift. Now we have a dedicated Project One paint facility; their own booths where they don’t have to close up, put away all their equipment at the end of the night only to have to take it all back out to start up the next day. Now they can just paint. They’re at home.”

But space was only the start. The real bottom line goal for the new paint booth was that we wanted to free up the artisan painters from the more technical and uncreative aspects of coatings. Changing colors, cleaning lines, painting undercoats. These things require more precision than artistry, so the new paint line is an amazing mix of technology and art, anchored by a high-tech, incredibly precise paint robot. The artists and the robot get along really well. We robotically cover the mundane tasks and keep our painters focused on the art, the beauty–the things that make Project One more than a paint job.

The frames that receive this artistry are molded from raw carbon just down the hall and up the stairs from the new paint line. There the raw carbon frames are bonded, cured, and checked for perfect alignment.

Only then can the finishing process begin. Frames are first sandblasted, then joints and bond lines are hand-sanded with care. Not a single speck of that sanding dust, Bob Seibel takes care to point out, will ever make its way into the paint booth.
Design your own custom Trek Bike on Trek Travel's Project One Factory Experience
Before painters enter the glass-walled booth, they don paper coveralls and pass through air showers and other contaminant removal methods to remove dust and impurities–the number one cause of paint imperfections–from all operators and frames that enter. Nothing gets in the way of a perfect finish.

“With Project One, the finishes are unbelievably meticulous. Take the U5 Vapor Coat. U5 stands for under five grams. Literally less than five grams of finished paint is applied to the frame before it’s done. A typical paint weight of a frame is easily 100 grams, if not more, because your sole focus is a smooth, flawless finish. But here we’re talking five grams or less for a paint finish, that’s astounding–it’s nothing! There is absolutely no margin for error–the coating can’t hide anything. Part of it is sandblasted, to have a matte feel and look, and the other parts are contrasted. It’s a really special look.”

Which is the whole point of Project One. We like to do special things here. Often it’s for one of the great athletes who ride Trek. Project One graphic designer Brian Lindstrom recently completed a special bike for Jens Voigt.

“Jens is very cool to work with. He had a lot of great ideas about what he wanted. We sat down in a cafe in Berlin and he started sketching ideas that he had, all the different milestones that he wanted to include on the bike that we could work on. The result was a design that reflected points in his career, so it was cool that, as fans, we can thank him for it.

I love doing athlete bikes–or it could be an entire identity for a new team, like for Trek Factory Racing: design the logo, get it all out there, color them up.”
Design your own Project One bicycle on Trek Travel's Trek Factory Experience
Rarer than the athlete bikes are the fully custom civilian jobs, only endeavored when the custom queue is uncharacteristically short and the budget necessarily long. Take the skeletal bike the Project One team created for an orthopedic surgeon in New York. The doctor was a triathlete, and wanted the full custom treatment for his Speed Concept. Project One Guru (yes, that’s his title) Eric Maves recalls:

“We played off the fact that he was an orthopedic surgeon. He wanted a skeletal-type paint scheme on the bike. His main job is doing artificial joints, so he somehow wanted to integrate those into the skeletal system. I had this idea: what if we made it like an X-ray? We used the X-rays of the son of one of our painters as our benchmark. Artificial joints show up on an X-ray completely different from bone, so we went for that effect on the piece. It was intense, like 40 hours of paint labor alone. He was blown away.”
Design your own custom bicycle on Trek Travel's Project One Factory Experience
Dave Schleicher is the Project One engineering technician. Dave takes Brian’s and Eric’s ideas and works out how to make them happen, which techniques to use, how to make vinyls for masking the frame for painting. In the case of complicated projects like the skeleton, this often means some clever sideway thinking.

“I had to go find an actual skull, and live-trace right off the skull–that was just crazy. We went to the University of Wisconsin and came up with all the drawings for the vertebrae, and I had to hand-trace them, label them, and match where they lined up. For the hips, the human ones weren’t working, so we had to use an X-ray from a dog’s hip!”

Dave is lost in folders and files on his desktop. The last ten years of special paint finishes and graphics flashes on the screen. The attention to detail, the complex engineering that turns a concept into a paint scheme, is extraordinary. And once the art and makes are complete, it’s up to the painter to bring the design to life on its carbon canvas.
Design your own Project One bicycle on Trek Travel's Trek Factory Experience
“It’s sort of a layering technique. It’s a very artistic interpretation, the masks aren’t meant to be a schematic. Every time we develop a new design, we save the files, just because we might use some of it on another project. We’ve done a snake head, we have skulls…John Burke, Trek’s President, gave his wife a panda design bike, so we’ve got that. There we go, pandas!”

The same meticulous airbrushing used for the rare one-offs also applies to the Project One Signature Series schemes. Applying the Real Fire scheme to tubes and fork ends is around nine hours of work, all done by a single painter. Each Signature Series frame belongs to one artist, from start to finish, who signs his work at the end. Bob explains:

“We take it personally, because we know that one person has ordered this one frameset, this one bike. The frame already has an owner, written right on the tag. That owner is a person, someone who’s created this expression in the form of a bike. We build it and sign it, from one person to another–it’s tough to get more personal than that.”
Design your own Project One bicycle on Trek Travel's Trek Factory Experience

When To Replace A Bike Helmet

When is the last time you bought yourself something nice that can also save your life? If it’s been more than 3-5 years since you bought a new bike helmet, then do yourself a favor and don’t wait any longer. Most helmets have a manufacturer recommended lifespan of 3-5 years, even if it has never been in a crash.

Helmet technology is almost as amazing as smart phone technology. Advancements in design, weight, retention systems, cooling and fit have come an incredibly long way in the past few years. Every time I purchase a new helmet, I ask myself how they possibly improved the fit and technology so much when I thought my last helmet was perfect!

Purchasing a new helmet is also a great opportunity to make sure it fits properly. The safety of your helmet relies on the adjustment of its straps. It is important to make sure the strap buckles fit right below your ears and the chin strap isn’t too loose. My rule of thumb: always err on the side of caution. If you can’t remember when you purchased your helmet, stop into a local bicycle dealer and get fit for a new one. Your safety and security is worth the price.

So. Many. Choices.

Wear a Bontrager bicycle helmet on your Trek Travel cycling vacation

How to Lube a Bike Chain

One of the most overlooked parts of bicycle maintenance is chain lubrication. Both too much and too little lubrication can make your drivetrain work harder than it is supposed to resulting in increased wear and the dreaded chainring tattoo.

Proper lubrication of the chain actually requires very little lubricant. A drip style bottle is always recommended over an aerosol can. Not only are most aerosols harmful to the environment, but 75% of the lube is actually wasted. A proper technique is to put just one drop of lube on each chain link roller. The object is to lube inside the small roller, not outside on the parts of the chain that you see.

As the chain moves over the chain ring teeth that small roller is what needs the most lubrication. Lubricating the outer plates of the chain does nothing to make your shifting smoother or your chain quit. A trick that many pro mechanics do after they lubricate the chain is to wipe the chain down with a rag and some denatured alcohol. The pro mechanics know that excess lubrication only attracts dirt and dust making your chain wear faster and get dirty easier.

So next time you go out for a ride and need to lubricate your chain, try it: one drop of your favorite lube per roller. It actually does not take long to do and you will thank yourself for not spraying chain lube all over unnecessary parts!
How to lube a bike chain

Gran Fondo NJ

Trek Travel sat down with Bill Ruddick, executive director of Gran Fondo NJ, to learn more about the inspiration for this incredible event. From riding across Canada to a fat bike ride across a frozen lake at the end of February, the Gran Fondo is crafted from once-in-a-lifetime cycling experiences. Bill knows first hand how tough a ride can be, but more importantly, how to make it fun.

For those who are unaware, what is a Gran Fondo?
A Gran Fondo is a mass-participation endurance cycling event, with a timing component, and a festival at the end. Gran Fondo routes are typically very challenging (lots of climbing). Some Gran Fondos time start-to-finish, others time only the toughest hill climbs. At Gran Fondo NJ we offer timing only on the toughest climbs of the routes – this allows our riders to enjoy the scenery of the routes and the amazing offerings at our rest stops without feeling they are being penalized.

What is the history behind Gran Fondo NJ?
Gran Fondo NJ is the brainchild of Marty Epstein, its founder and the owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle. We started the event in 2011 with an initial focus of showcasing the amazing cycling in northern New Jersey, providing our riders with the best one-day experience they will have on a bike, and putting on a sustainably responsible event. The event is also used by some of our riders, as well as our five beneficiaries, as a charity ride to raise funds for their favorite causes. The event has raised over $600,000 for charities since its inception and last year it was the first cycling event in the world to earn a Gold Level of accreditation from the Council for Responsible Sport.

What makes this event particularly unique?
We think Gran Fondo NJ offers a unique blend of a challenging bike ride, a personal competition with our timed hill climbs and fun. You know this is different from any other cycling experience when you pull in to the first rest stop and are greeted by Cheerleaders, Seeing Eye puppies and cannolis. To the surprise of many, we have amazingly beautiful cycling routes just 40 miles from NYC.

Tell us your story. How long have you been riding bikes?
I have been riding bikes since I was a kid delivering the morning newspaper in Montreal. I rode my bike to school and college, and have built up a number of bikes from scrap parts. Once my kids got older, I started riding and raising money in charity events. My first week-long event was a ride across Alaska in August of 2000 (yes we had two days of snow), and it just took off from there.

What was your inspiration to ride across Canada in 2010?
I was inspired to ride across Canada to re-live a family road trip in the summer of 1966 – my mum and dad packed up 4 kids and camping gear in a station wagon and drove from Montreal to Vancouver and back. It also met my criteria for adventure – “If you are going to do something, it might as well be memorable!”

Tell us about your most adventurous day on a bike.
My most adventurous day on a bike was on the ride across Canada – it was a supported ride, but basically a daily game of “Survivor” played out over 10 weeks. Each day we had to ride to the next campsite where the truck with all our gear was waiting. On one day, a 100-mile ride between Ottawa and Montreal, I broke a rear drive-side spoke 20 miles in to the ride. Luckily I found a bike shop back in Ottawa that had the spoke I needed, but to get it fixed I had to abandon the group I was with, take a taxi back to the shop, get the wheel fixed and start off all over again alone. I ended up re-starting the ride at around noon, and rode the 100 miles as an individual time trial. I managed to complete it in just over 6 hours (including two ferry rides and sight seeing) and to the surprise of the other riders on the tour made it into camp just before dinner.

Trek Travel is the official travel partner of Gran Fondo New Jersey

What is your favorite travel destination and why?
There is something very captivating about Paris in the summertime – from the amazing sights, the wine and food, to the light at the end of a summer day. Also fun to plan it to coincide with the final day of the Tour de France when the city is taken over by the excitement of the peloton racing up and down the Champs Elysees.

Which Trek Travel trip is top on your bucket list and why?
That’s an easy one – it would have to be the Provence luxury vacation. I would like to test my mettle once again on Mont Ventoux, and ride through les Gorges de la Nesque – I had the opportunity to drive through les Gorges in 2004 and ever since then felt it would be an amazing cycling experience.


Meet Bill Ruddick, executive direction of Gran Fondo New Jersey

How To Tune Your Bike

It’s that time of year again. You’ve been looking at your bike hanging upside down all winter. You’ve been telling yourself the past few weekends that you need to go out for a ride.

You know your bike needs work, but remember what happened last year when the four week wait at your local shop prevented you from enjoying spring weather. So you’re thinking about skipping the tune up and just going for a ride.

The important thing is not to be deterred from actually getting your annual tune-up. It is very important for your bike to be checked by a professional mechanic. Things like tire condition, cable tension, frame inspection, brake pad wear and drivetrain condition are just a few of the important safety items that need to be looked over.

It’s inevitable that shops get bogged down with spring weather. Each shop only has so many mechanics and they can only get so many bikes done each day. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead. If you know you have a ride planned in a few weeks, call for an appointment right away.

Just make sure to do yourself a favor and let a professional tune your bike this spring. It’s worth the time and money to make sure your bike is ready to ride. You know you want to go for a spin, but first make sure it’s safe to do so.
How to Tune Your Bike

The Intimidation Factor

If you’ve ever been intimidated to walk into a bike shop, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. It’s common to feel nervous in any specialty store, and bike shops are no exception. The intricate mechanics and technical jargon can be confusing.

The good news is, retailers understand and shop owners have been in your shoes. Even the strongest riders started out as a novice and their main concern is getting more people on bikes. It’s not about skill level, gender or disposable income. Their goal is simply to make sure everyone has a safe, comfortable and enjoyable ride.

We reached out to Trek retailers across the country and asked about the most valuable lesson they’ve learned from owning a bike shop. We were amazed by the number of responses that talked about this very issue–customer service. Read their stories then stop in to the bike shop nearest you!

“The most important lesson I’ve learned over 34 years is to be patient and kind. People are often intimidated when they go into a bike shop. If employees are nice, helpful and patient the customer will come away with a positive experience. For customers, don’t try to impress the shop guy by talking about your high dollar equipment or bragging about you race results. The best way to make friends with the employees is simply to say, ‘Man, I love to ride my bike!'”
– Paul Kingsbury, Kingsbury’s Cyclery

“For me the most valuable lesson is to never assume someone knows about bikes or cycling. I’ve worked with beginners who surprised me with their knowledge and I’ve worked with expert racers who have surprised me with their lack of knowledge. No matter what I always try to pass along the little details that I take for granted as an experienced cyclist. Such as pumping up your tires before every ride and not to wear anything between you and your shorts/bibs. Anytime I feel myself getting impatient with someone’s lack of knowledge, I try to remember what it was like when I first started riding. The research that left me more confused or the bike shop that treated me inferior. I left that shop feeling quite disheartened and almost gave up on a sport that I absolutely love. Then there was the time I rode six months before someone told me to pump up my tires or the bike I ordered online thinking ‘compact’ referred to the frame size. I bought a 54cm frame that was way too big for me because I really ride a 50cm women specific frame with a compact chainring. Those details and memories have allowed me to better introduce many people to a sport they have grown to love. My best memories are of watching those newbies grow into experienced and accomplished cyclist. Life is too short not to ride a bike.”
– Michelle Clonce-Turner, Trace Bikes

“It was about 25 years ago that I started my journey to becoming a bike shop owner. I managed hotels for Marriott out of college and learned some great skills that I carry with me today. First, treat every customer that walks in the door as if it may be your last. Make them feel welcome and find out what serves their needs. To this day every customer is greeted within 30 seconds of walking in the door. And second, we’re in the bike business. Have fun, sell fun. Make cycling fun for everyone.”
– Michael Reuter, American Cycle & Fitness
Visit your local Trek Retailer

Lessons From Owning a Bike Shop

The incredible network of Trek retailers across the United States and abroad are local hubs of the worldwide cycling network. As business owners and bike riders, there is a lot we can learn from them.

They are experts, eager to share their skills and advice. They are cyclists, enthusiastic about welcoming you into the sport and the community. And together with them, we can be more successful in our mission to encourage a passion for cycling.

In this post, we have gathered up some important tips learned from owning a bicycle shop. Steven Levine, Owner and Founder of Cycling Spoken Here, discloses his Top 10 lessons from owning a bike shop.

“I was asked to write a blog about the top ten lessons I have learned from owning a bicycle shop. While contemplating the task, it occurred that this would likely be a better platform for a book instead of a blog. At Cycling Spoken Here we believe in People, Process, and Product! Those will always be the Top 3. Thank you Marcus Lemonis!

After much contemplation, I compiled a list. While some may seem cliche, I find the results are not very good when we stray from any of these.

1. People: There are some amazing people in your business. Develop and train them, and help them dream big about your vision for the company and their place in it!

2. Process: Continue to improve. Once you think you have it dialed in, reexamine from the customers perspective.

3. Product: The best product you can ever have is your brand!

4. Solution Sales: Turing buyers into users! Use rides, grassroots initiatives and great experiences. If your customers are engaged, they will come visit you.

5. Reinvent: This is a tough one. When you have a system that works, time, evolution and change is happening all around you. What worked in the past may not work today.

6. Relationship Matter to Your Customers: Sales people create the relationship, service people maintain the relationship. Don’t ever let your customers forget you are thinking about them.

7. Community: Create a budget and give back. If the cycling pool grows, so do you.

8. Find a Mentor(s): After 19 years in the bike business I am finally utilizing this awesome tool. There are some smart people in this world that want to help you! Here is the best part: it’s usually for free!

9. Live and Die by Your Core Values: Never make an knee jerk or emotional decision.

10. Quality Drives Value: Look at your retail store, not just the showroom. The back room, bathroom, dumpster, parking lot and dress code for employees all matter. Would you rather buy a Ferrari from a gravel parking lot and a sales person in torn jeans, or from a well dressed customer service representative in a fabulous showroom with complimentary drinks?

I have been in the bicycle business for 25 years, and I’ve independently owned and operated Cycling Spoken Here since 1996. When I started in the bike business Greg Lemond was a hero, the mountain bike was a beach cruiser with fat tires, and the bike business was not far from its roots of being a bike sold from a lawnmower shop. Today, more then ever, owning a bicycle shop means shaping the way bike shops are viewed.

Below is a picture of me and my kids on a Trek Travel trip to Zion National Park. My kids still talk about that experience and want to do a bike trip again soon. My son has a passion for ice hockey and my daughter has a passion for field hockey. Our Zion experience has turned them both into lifelong cyclists.”
Trek Travel Zion Family Weekend Vacation


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Looking to travel with a small group or looking for a custom date?
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What is the Difference?

Ultimate Luxury:

Savor some of the most spectacular, 5-star properties in the world. Exuding luxury and elegance, these one-of-a-kind accommodations offer the chance to rejuvenate at award-winning spas, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and more.


Enjoy luxurious accommodations handpicked for a refined experience. From signature spa treatments to delicious local cuisine, you’ll be more than provided for; you’ll be pampered.


These handpicked hotels provide relaxation and fun in a casual and comfortable environment. Delicious cuisine and great service mix perfectly for a memorable stay.


On select cycling vacations, you’ll stay at a mix of Explorer and Luxury hotels. Rest assured, no matter which hotel level you’re at, our trip designers carefully select every accommodation.

Activity Level

Level 1:

Road: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 25 mi (40 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Gravel: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 20 mi (35 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 1-3 hours of hiking. Up to 5 mi (8 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Level 2:

Road: 2-4 hours of riding. 20-35 mi (35-60 km). Up to 2,500 ft (750 m).

Gravel: 2-4 hours of riding. 15-30 mi (25-45 km). Up to 2,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 2-4 hours of hiking. 4-8 mi (6-12 km). Up to 1,500 ft (450 m).

Level 3:

Road: 3-5 hours of riding. 25-55 mi (40-85 km). Up to 4,500 ft (1,500 m).

Gravel: 3-5 hours of riding. 20-40 mi (35-60 km). Up to 3,000 ft (900 m).

Hiking: 3-5 hours of hiking. 6-10 mi (9-16 km). Up to 2,000 ft (600 m).

Level 4:

Road: 4+ hours of riding. 40-70 mi (60-110 km). Up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Gravel: 4+ hours of riding. 30-50 mi (45-80 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

Hiking: 4+ hours of hiking. 7-15 mi (11-24 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

What are your trip styles?

Classic - Reserve:

Savor the finer things as you relax in luxurious 5-star accommodations and wine, dine, and ride in some of the most unforgettable destinations around the world.

Classic - Signature:

Explore beautiful destinations by bike, enjoy extra inclusions, savor delicious local cuisine, and enjoy the perfect mix of accommodations.

Classic - Discover:

Enjoy a casual cycling vacation with fantastic routes and comfortable accommodations.

Ride Camp:

Train like the pros in some of their favorite riding destinations.

Pro Race:

See the pros in action at the biggest cycling events of the year.

Cross Country:

Tackle an epic adventure that takes you point-to-point across mountains, countryside, and more.


Enjoy a bike tour on your schedule with just your chosen travel companions.

Single Occupancy

Sometimes it’s more convenient and comfortable to have your own room while on vacation. We understand and that’s why we offer a Single Occupancy option. The additional price guarantees a private room all to yourself