Travel company gets back to nature in Wilton

When Arthur Tauck Sr., founder of the family-owned travel company, took people on guided tours of New England nearly 100 years ago, he marveled at the natural beauty of the woods and streams.
They called it Vitamin N, for nature. The company has loads of it now that it has moved its headquarters from the Norden complex in Norwalk to the 66-acre wooded corporate campus on Route 33 known as Wilton Woods.
The worldwide travel company occupies the first floor of No. 10 Wilton Woods, in a 60,000-square-foot custom-designed office suite that features a living room with fireplace, a wall of history, café and dining hall, multiple meeting rooms with natural light, relaxing décor including leather couches, and eight outer decks overlooking the woods.
The company moved in in January with a 13-year lease.
“We’re seeing the four seasons right from our offices. The beauty of the woods is a constantly changing picture,” said Dan Mahar, chief executive officer of the company since 2006. “We were lucky enough to find this place. It’s hugely different from where we were, and we’re very pleased.”
Tauck enlisted prominent global architecture firm Perkins Eastman to design the new workspace reflecting Tauck’s heritage, culture and business, and designed to enhance employee engagement, wellness and support.
The wellness touches include walking trails through the wooded campus. The 200 employees are encouraged to keep their exercise shoes in a locker and make use of the trails.
“This emphasis on wellness has helped us create a travel-inspired, comfortable and serene environment for our team that we hope will encourage innovation, camaraderie and creativity,” Mahar said in a statement.
The idea is to make the workers happy and feel fulfilled. Employees played a large role in the process by completing surveys and giving feedback that focused on what they felt they needed from their work environment in order to successfully collaborate with peers and keep productivity high.
The colors utilized in the office reflect autumn leaves, which pay homage to Tauck’s very first fall foliage tour in 1925. The theme of nature is communicated through a serene color palette with pops of color, earthy textures, and natural materials while maintaining the high functionality and efficiency of a corporate interior, and still providing a residential and comfortable feel. The meeting spaces are named after different trees. The largest room is called Sequoia, and others include Beech, Birch, Oak, Maple, Walnut, Juniper, Elm, Cedar, and Aspen.
The comfortable working space provides a balance between the pressures of the world and the ability of the mind to deal with them, Mahar said.
The emphasis on nature permeates the smallest design details. For example, each employee’s desk features a small cubby designed to conveniently store a pair of trail shoes, which the company has provided for each employee.
The living room, which features a centrally located double-sided stone fireplace and custom bookshelves, is a lounge area adjacent to the pantry where employees can comfortably gather in style.
The lodge is a multi-purpose space that offers a variety of seating options and can be reconfigured for an auditorium-style space to hold staff presentations.
The Swiss room, Tauck’s boardroom and home to a ski chalet, includes such accents as reclaimed wood paneling and a fireplace.
As an authentic interpretation of the Tauck brand, the space alsofeatures a history wall to celebrate Tauck’s heritage and accomplishments. The lobby features Tauck’s vintage travel posters, and artifacts collected during employees’ travels are prominently displayed throughout the office.
Tauck’s role as a leader in river and small ship cruising is also represented and symbolized through nautical design elements.
“I wanted a place to provide a very calm environment for employees to do their work,” Mahar said. “There’s a strong connection to nature — it helps them manage their jobs and lives in a great way. That’s the vitamin N, feeling good doing your work.”
Wilton was the obvious choice for the company.
“You can’t find many places with a building in the middle of 60 acres,” he said.