There are definitely clients on your roster who binge-watch the Food Network or have pretended to be a contestant on “Top Chef” when cooking at home. Why not help them bring these fantasies to life? Culinary travel is on the rise, and according to chef Russell Michel of The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, “The rise of food shows and culinary competitions on TV have definitely influenced a growth in culinary travel. The culinary aspect of a trip is now just as important as the local activities and sights explored during a vacation.” But that’s not the only reason folks are into food-focused travel. It connects them to the local experience and gives them a bit of an indulgence, too. According to Michael Cole, director of sales for Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, “…culinary travel is a way to connect to the area. It’s also an indulgence and many look for options in food and wine that they may not have access to on a regular basis.”
Whatever your clients’ reasons are for dipping their taste buds into the scene, one thing’s for sure, “in the past five to 10 years there has been a renewed interest in spirits and locally inspired food, which we see reflected in the cocktail and food experiences created for clients,” as Philip Kendall, v.p. of resort operations for The Carneros Inn in Napa Valley, California, points out.
The Carneros Inn, California
Guests staying at The Carneros Inn can get their hands a little dirty, while satisfying their appetites, too. The property’s Gather and Garnish program, resuming on June 1 and available at the onsite restaurant FARM, allows guests to forage ingredients from the quarter-acre farm located on site that’s filled with tomatoes, cauliflower, pomegranate, broccoli, squash and more. There are also fruit trees in the area that are used to create the perfect cocktail. This $75 program is available Monday-Thursday at 4 p.m. Guests can also explore the culinary scene off-property and tour many of the wineries around Napa Valley. The hotel’s concierge desk can assist your clients in booking wine tastings, dinner reservations, cooking classes, foodie tours, or even outdoor activities such as golf. For instance, the offsite Ramekins culinary school offers a hands-on cooking demonstration, and after class, guests enjoy wine and an appetizer they’ve cooked themselves, while waiting for their table to be set up for a unique dining experience. Culinary tours of Long Meadow Ranch or Chalk Hill are also available, as are olive oil tours and tastings at Round Pond Estate, an award-winning producer of four olive oils; at St. Helena Olive Oil Co., where guests enjoy home-made olive oils; at The Olive Press, which makes an award-winning California extra virgin olive oil; and at B.R. Cohn, which produces California olive oils and vinegars, plus The Estate Olive Oil crafted from 140-year-old French Picholine olive trees.
With so many activities to choose from, your guests won’t be rushing back home with all there is to experience, so suggest the Stay a Little Longer at The Carneros Inn package, available through December 2016. Guests can stay in any cottage, suite, or home for three nights or more and receive the lowest rate of the season. Standard rates for the 86-cottage, 10-suite and luxury home property range from $385 to $3,000 in low season depending on room category.
The Westin La Paloma, Arizona
At The Westin La Paloma guests can participate in an interactive culinary experience alongside chef Michel upon request. This class ties in its surroundings by infusing southwest flavor with peppers, cilantro and avocado. Guests will return home with a new recipe to call their own. Room rates start at $169 per night.
Blackberry Farm, Tennessee
From cooking classes to wine tasting, and a little farming, too, guests at Blackberry Farm can choose from a plethora of gastronomic experiences. “Our culinary program is a huge draw for our guests. The farm-to-table concept where guests can see the full process with our working garden, cheese, preservation and butchery programs as well as other items we produce puts a real value on what knowledge guests can bring home from their stays with us,” says Cole. Your clients can really dive in to a diverse culinary program and get their hands as dirty (or not) as they’re comfortable with. These immersive offerings include artisan cooking demonstrations with a farm-to-table experience; a farm nutrition lesson where guests discover the benefits of natural grown foods; a farmstead tasting tour through the working areas of the heirloom gardens, heritage livestock pastures and the larder, which houses the property’s cheese-making and food preservation efforts; and livestock time, which allows guests to visit the chickens, ducks, quail turkeys and sheep to learn about the methods for keeping animals healthy and how to collect eggs for the kitchen. Two other interesting programs include The Buzz, where guests put on a beekeeper’s veil for a little hands-on time inside the hives to discover bee colonies and taste honey right from the comb. The other tour is Truffe Time, where guests head out with the property’s Lagotto Romagnolo truffle dogs to discover the 500-year-old breed and the truffles they find. Rates start at $795 per night.
A Taste of Waldorf Astoria
Worldwide, the Waldorf Astoria properties are inviting guests to take on their own Taste of Waldorf Astoria adventure with its 3-night culinary experiential packages. These packages feature unique experiences such as exploring the local fish market with a master chef to select ingredients for the evening’s meal at Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West.
Hilton West Palm Beach, Florida
Now, if your clients “lean” a little more to the healthy side, guests of the Hilton West Palm Beach can participate in an immersive cooking class alongside chef Matthew Byrne, Tiger Wood’s former chef, as they pull from Florida-fresh ingredients to create the trendy mason jar salad. The class takes place on the outdoor Palm Deck, and later guests can take their portable lunch with them for a picnic on the hotel’s lawns or enjoy by the pool.
One thing’s for sure, guests who participate in any of these culinary experiences arrive
back home with more than a smart phone filled with images from their vacation. They bring back a bag full of delicious memories as well as healthy, hearty recipes they can share at home with their families, just like the ones they lusted over while watching the
Blackberry Farm: blackberryfarm.com
The Carneros Inn: thecarnerosinn.com
Hilton West Palm Beach: hilton.com
Waldorf Astoria: waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/index.html
The Westin La Paloma: westinlapalomaresort.com