As the CEO and founder of tour company Modern Adventure, Luis
runs a travel business representing a significant shift in how we vacation.
The 2-year-old operation has launched and led more than 40 small group trips to 30 countries and counting. These trips are tailored towards a specific area of interest led by leaders and tastemakers in that field. Think Bilbao and San Sebastian with the chef from Mugaritz, or Colombia with the team from a top California coffee roastery.
Vargas, 44, has spent 20 years in the travel industry from startup to executive, always at the forefront of what’s next in global tourism. Penta caught up with him to chat about what’s making an impact in his life as Modern Adventure enters year three.
My favorite neighborhood in the world is… I have to say Dunthorpe in Portland, Ore. I say this because one of the gifts of traveling to over 100 countries is knowing that wherever you go, there you are. This beautiful, peaceful neighborhood is where we’re raising our family and I’m grateful to live there. Of course, there are much “cooler” neighborhoods, like
in Mexico City, that embody the creative energy and craft that are being developed and practiced across so many mediums around the world.
The one thing in my closet I can’t live without is… I love chore coats. With so many pockets, they’re perfect for everyday wear and a day on the move. Some of my favorite brands are LC King, Best Made, and Hedley &
The look can vary by color and fabric, and I’m always on the lookout for the right one.
If I were to buy a piece of art, it would be by… I love artists with a point of view, and I think
is fantastic. Her current painting series of iconic women and men with vibrant colors and backgrounds are so much fun. I would choose something like the
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
piece and likely hang it at the Modern Adventure offices. Plus, I’d love to hang with her in NOLA [New Orleans], eat carbs, and party like it’s 1999.
The best book I’ve read in the last year is… Barbarian Days by
It’s a beautifully written memoir of travel, surfing, and maturing from a boy to a man. His voice and changed perspectives through travel resonates with me deeply. Be careful though, this book may make you want to quit your job and dedicate yourself to surfing full time.
A passion of mine that few people know about is… I’m a Certified Level Two Sommelier and have a deep love for the people and places that make and steward great wines. Connecting to a destination and its people through a glass of wine is one of my favorite experiences. Recently, my focus has been on Burgundy, which embodies the tireless dedication to craft and terroir over time.
The one trip I’ve taken that I would love to do again… I spent three months in Nepal as part of a six-month honeymoon. The thought of doing a 90-day trek in the Himalayas is intoxicating and sounds almost mythical at this moment in my life. There is something so special about traveling under your power for that length of time and what it does to your mind, body, and soul. I left that experience strong in body and clear in mind.
The next destination on my travel itinerary is… Modern Adventure is developing multiple programs in Japan, including our trip with Heath Ceramics, so I will be there in February doing R&D. I’m excited to experience Naoshima Art Island and meet with makers, artisans, and creatives that will help give a deeper understanding of a place that embodies craft, excellence, and tradition.
The thing that gets me up in the morning is… the idea of progress and evolution—a little bit forward every day. That, and my three children, all under eight years old. Sleeping in is currently extinct at
Casa de Vargas.
The bar in my hometown that I love to take a visitor to is… the Multnomah Whiskey Library. It’s a members club and an absolutely beautiful and thoughtfully curated bar with a world-class spirit list, cocktails, wonderful team and hospitality, and delicious snacks. I particularly love going in the winter, when the fireplace is roaring and the dark, moody, seductive interior is at its best.
A person who inspired me to do what I do is… so many people have inspired, supported, and encouraged me throughout my journey. But the pillar of support and inspiration for doing what I do today, and yesterday, is my wife and partner,
Without her, it simply wouldn’t be possible.