It all began more than 80 years ago when a young man purchased a rowboat to transport visitors across Lake Lugano, Switzerland. Who would have thought that this single rowboat would launch one of the world’s leading travel companies?
Today, the Globus family of brands is a global company reaching every corner of the world, yet remains family-owned and steeped in the values Antonio had when he set out across Lake Lugano—to enlighten travelers by showing them the very best of the destinations we know so well.
The Globus story takes us back to 1928 in Lugano, Switzerland. Our founder, Antonio Mantegazza, had been fascinated with travel and the wonder he saw in the eyes of travelers to his home country. To pursue this interest, Antonio bought a rowboat (on credit) and began transporting visitors to the area across Lake Lugano, sharing stories of the local sights and stories along the way. This small enterprise grew quickly, motivating a young Antonio to purchase more rowboats, convincing his friends to join him as he expanded this budding business.
Rowboats grew to motorboats, then moved to land with a taxi service. Every good story has an element of luck, and our story is no exception. Antonio’s good fortune came in the form of a local sweepstakes, from which Antonio won the rights to operate a popular local route for the Swiss national postal and transportation service. To service this route, Antonio purchased his first motorcoach–the beginning of motorcoach touring as we know it today. Now in his 30’s, Antonio was at the helm of a full-fledged travel business—a company he named Globus Viaggi.
Through the 1930’s, this company grew to a fleet of 12 coaches, operating local tours for European tourists in Switzerland. Business remained strong, and after a hiatus during World War II, Antonio acquired two other competing coach companies and grew his fleet to 33 coaches (his nearest competitor had just five!).
Over the years, Antonio’s business dealings introduced him to another young man who shared his ideals and passion for travel—Werner Albek. Antonio and Werner partnered to operate popular excursions to St. Moritz, Milan, Venice, Rome, etc. Only later did Werner and Antonio discover that Werner’s fiancé, Eurosia, was the daughter of Antonio’s sister, Agnese. This family connection formed the foundation of the company for the decades to come.
As business grew through the 1950’s, so did the company’s scope. The Globus portfolio had expanded from Switzerland and Italy to the French Riviera, Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium and England. Innovation was a key ingredient in this success. Early in the decade, Globus developed the first “circular tours,” designed as a more complete travel experience and enhancing the convenience of motorcoach touring. Antonio and Werner also pioneered the concept of Grand European Touring by offering first-class European tours, which became the cornerstone of the company’s entry into the U.S. market in the late 50’s.
Now with his son Sergio by his side, Antonio and the company continued its rapid growth. In the 60’s, the company launched its Cosmos arm, which featured affordable, value-priced European touring for the cost-conscious traveler. These coach tours were so successful that Cosmos soon introduced another form of travel: air holiday packages to the sunny destinations of southern Europe. Then in the 80’s, Globus truly became worldwide, selling in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Destinations expanded, too, adding Africa, the South Pacific and Asia to its array of vacations in Europe, North America and South America.
The spirit of innovation continues today. In 2003, both Avalon Waterways and Monograms were introduced, adding river cruising and independent travel to the expansive product offering. Today, the Globus family of brands is marketed and operated by a network of more than 32 offices around the world, serviced by a group of more than 5,000 professionals. Combined, Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways carry over 500,000 passengers a year, making the organization the leading operator of guided vacations worldwide.
At the core of the company are Antonio’s ideals of passion, hard work, innovation and love for travel. These values are the cornerstone on which Cosmos was built and will continue to grow for generations to come.