Sundance Vacations History: Celebrating the Start of 25 Years

How Sundance Vacations All Began

The year was 1991. The cold war ended, the first web browser was introduced and kids were running around with Super Soaker water guns. Musical grunge band sensation Nirvana had the number one hit “Smells like Teen Spirit,” Arnold Schwarzenegger told his enemy “Hasta La Vista, Baby” in Terminator 2 and the Dowds launched Sundance Vacations.


Co-owners of Sundance Vacations John and Tina Dowd at the Grand Canyon on one of their first vacations together.

Over 25 years ago, John and Tina Dowd conceived the idea to start a trustworthy and reliable travel company.  After working in the travel industry for a number of years, the husband and wife duo decided to take a risk and start their own business. In the beginning, “Sundance Vacations” was merely two people with a will and the dream of making vacationing easy and affordable for everyone.

Making calls from their house, Tina began developing an employee base. She would spread out papers on her kitchen table and make calls for hours, confirming appointments with potential travelers. Eventually, they opened their first office in Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania in early 1991.

Even then, the Dowds were thrifty, buying fold-up tables for their eight employees to use as desks. Tina even brought in her favorite bean-bag chair and made calls from the comfort of her cushioned seat.

That’s when things really began expanding. Over the next few years, Sundance Vacations offices began springing up all over the United States. Currently, we operate nine offices, including locations in Harrisburg, Pa., Parsippany, N.J. and Washington DC.


Sundance Vacations CEO John Dowd was ranked among the Highest Rated CEOs for Small Businesses on Glassdoor in 2015.

As our locations expanded, Sundance Vacations awards began piling up as well. From winning Best Places to Work recognition in multiple states to being acknowledged by Inc. 5000 as being one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for three years in a row, Sundance Vacations is always receiving notable mentions. In fact, John Dowd was just named to Glassdoor’s 2015 list of the Highest Rated CEOs with an impressive 95% approval rating, placing him 8th overall in all of North America.

John and Tina’s very first employee, Clara Fellows, is still with Sundance Vacations today. As a part of the team for over 20 years now, Fellows says she loves all that our company stands for and sees herself staying here for many more years to come.

“Being an employee here is just great,” Fellows said.  “I’ve always liked making people happy, and helping people go on the vacations of their dreams is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face!”

With how well Sundance Vacations treats employees, it’s no wonder she has been with us so long! Some prospective travelers ask, “Is Sundance Vacations legit?”

Of course it’s legit! We’ve been around almost a quarter of a century, sending people to places all across the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Sundance Vacations reviews keep pouring in as more and more travelers thank us for introducing them to such wonderful destinations.

It totally exceeded our expectations,” David and Marian O. said.  The two are Sundance Vacations travelers from Philadelphia, Pa. and recently traveled to Florida using Sundance Vacations.

Another one of our travelers, Shenet G. said, “This has been one of the best investments I’ve made for my family.”

With the thousands of travelers we have now, Tina reflects on how funny it is to look back and remember the beginning.

“As my daughters move through business school, they become more inquisitive about how we started,” Tina said.  “One of them asked me, ‘Mom, what was your starting capital?’ I laughed and said that we had no starting capital!  She looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe we did take a big risk back then, but I’m proud of what it made us into today.”

As we plan for the future, we are excited for the opportunity to introduce even more Sundance Vacations destinations to our travelers and to continue providing quality vacations for less.

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Jennifer Villa
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