Good eats are an integral part of a luxury travel experience, and several new culinary options—and experiences—will have your clients returning for more. Calories, unfortunately, are not optional.
The Return of a Texas Culinary Classic
The Driskill in downtown Austin, Texas, is an iconic hotel in a city that prides itself on its vibrant culture, excellent music scene, and, of course, huge university (Hook ’em Horns!) While the hotel itself opened in 1886, its signature eatery, The Driskill Grill, didn’t begin welcoming patrons until 1930—and what patrons they’ve been. From politicians to ranchers to the cream of society and celebrities galore, it’s seen them all—and after closing in 2020, it’s back in its usual spot adjacent to the famous Driskill Bar with a new menu that includes oyster Rockefeller, halibut ceviche, lobster bisque, steak tartare, whisky infused duck and more. Your clients can expect Texas favorites with a nod to the classics that made it famous, and all served in a gorgeous ambiance and with the top-notch service of yore. Of course, tasty Texas-themed libations will be on tap from the Driskill Bar: think a Tito’s Batini (in honor of the bats under the Congress Avenue bridge) or a Durango Cowboy made with Desert Door Texas Sotol.
The 82-seat restaurant is now helmed by executive chef and food and beverage director Mark Dayanandan, with restaurant chef Cliff Benavides and pastry chef Kristen Groth leading his team. Special holiday menus and a pre-theatre prix fixe menu for theater-goers, as well as partnerships with local wineries and distilleries, will be forthcoming.
For more information, visit thedriskill.com.
Ponanat and Relais & Chateaux Renew Their Culinary Collab
Ponant’s luxurious Le Laperouse will the headed to New Zealand late this year on two cruises in partnership with renowned hospitality brand Relais & Chateaux. Gala dinners and cooking demos centered around New Zealand cuisine by chefs Norka Mella Munoz of Wharekauhua Country Estate and Jimmy McIntyre of Otahuna Lodge will be among the many highlights of these journeys as the ship takes your clients on these exclusive itineraries.
New Zealand’s South Island and Chatham Islands is a 9-day trip departing on Nov. 25 from Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. With Chef Norka Mella Munoz on board, your clients can explore these incredible landscapes and immerse themselves in the local Maori history and culture. For an even deeper dive into the area and its gastronomy, you can book our clients on a 4-day pre-voyage stay at the Relais & Châteaux Wharekauhau Country Estate, where they can experience the Martinborough vineyards.
The 8-day Ancient Fjords and Unspoiled Islands of Southern New Zealand departs on Dec. 3 roundtrip from Dunedin on the shores of South Island. The guest chef will be New Zealand native Chef Jimmy McIntyre, who will accompany your guests to the Fjordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Snares Islands and Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary for some amazing wildlife encounters. Your clients can expect Chef’s “potager-to-plate” menus—his version of “farm-to-table”—with dishes made from the harvest grown in the Otahuna Lodge’s gardens.
For more information, visit us.ponant.com.
Tuscany’s Ancient Vignamaggio Gets Updates and a New Restaurant
Tuscany holds a special place in many a gourmand’s heart. Vignamaggio is a historic wine estate that’s ready to welcome your clients—including those looking for an amazing venue for a family reunion or a wedding. The estate has a farm, vineyards known for their Chianti classico and olive groves, the event venue, Tuscan farmhouses, and a boutique guesthouse. By spring 2024, it will also boast a luxury hotel that your clients might recognize—it was the pink villa featured in the movie, “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Il Borgo—a beautifully restored 14th-century villa—has 13 suites, an 8-bed dormitory, a 144-seat theater, a ballroom, four multi-functional event rooms, an in-house bar and a private barbershop. It’s available for a two-night minimum, and the rate includes breakfast. The Tuscan farmhouses are spread out on the 65 acres of the estate, all updated and with private pools, gorgeous views and designer interiors. Your clients can also choose to stay in the nearby village of Panzano in the 19-room La Pensione, the beautifully refurbished guesthouse, which will have two new suites by this summer.
The estate’s restaurant, La Fattoria (The Farm), will be ready by December of this year. With 120 seats and a vineyard view, the farm-to-table menu will feature the estate’s own produce and local wheat. Clients can also purchase culinary delights to take back to their accommodations from the onsite farm shop and deli. For summer 2024, you can look forward to booking the Renaissance Villa Vignamaggio: all 19 suites are currently being redone, as is the surrounding garden, the Vignamaggio Gran Giardini, being created by Patrice Taravella. The villa will have an on-site bar, restaurant, spa and both indoor and outdoor pools.
New Orleans Debuts New Restaurant
The Kimpton Hotel Fontenot in New Orleans’ Business District is set to welcome your clients to a new culinary destination with the opening of King, a French brasserie. The Kimpton is currently expanding into the historic building next door, and the restaurant is the first step—it will eventually be joined by 12,000+ sq. ft. of flexible meeting, wedding and events space and 33 new guestrooms and suites.
Clients staying at the Kimpton (or visiting New Orleans) will enjoy a menu based on the brasseries of the French Riviera with a delicious local twist. It will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with seating for 125, a long bar and an outside patio.
“After spending many months developing menus and dishes that emphasize the freshness and flavor of Louisiana seafood and feature unique interpretations of some of my favorite French classics, we can’t wait to start serving. I’m so proud of what the team has been able to build here,” said Kimpton Hotel Fontenot executive chef Samuel Peery in a press statement. Patrons can start their day with Louisiana pecan pain brioche, a croque monsieur or a quiche lorraine, then return for bisque, steak frites with bone marrow, sandwiches and more. The dinner menu includes house-baked bread with unique toppings to choose from and dishes such as King imperial caviar with brioche madeleines and creme fraiche or prime steak tartare with pommes maxim, ramps, horseradish and quail egg.
For more information, visit hotelfontenot.com.
Immersive Dining—On a Whole New Level
With “immersive experiences” becoming the new black, it was only a matter of time before they found their way to the dinner table. Say hello to TableMation Studios, which has created 3D culinary experiences that are already on display at several properties, including SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, Four Seasons Hotel Austin and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, where a four-course dinner is prepared with a side of adventure titled “Nya & Ned Save the World.” Clients staying at the JW Marriott Washington, D.C.; New York Marriott Marquis; The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park and Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans will be delighted by the antics of Le Petit Chef. The laser projections come accompanied by original music and character dialogue, and, of course, excellent dishes prepared by each venue’s culinary team.
For more information, visit tablemationstudios.com.