No matter the destination, cuisine has become a destination itself within the world of travel, giving tourists another opportunity to indulge in the delicious delicacies that define the region.
When it comes to food, travel company Brown + Hudson aims to integrate a country’s cuisine into a client’s overall experience, to the effect that guests feel like they’ve been on a culinary tour without necessarily realizing it. The same integration is seen and felt in every aspect of the “Heart of Darkness” tour through the cities and jungles of Ecuador.
Coined a luxpedition, the tour means to tell the “untold story of chocolate through exclusive access to areas few visitors have set foot in before,” all while experiencing utter luxury and insider access.
In partnership with To’ak Chocolate, the tour highlights several natural and cultural sights, particularly within the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve, where co-founder Jerry Toth originally became passionate about cacao farming. By way of rainforest conservation, Toth lived in the middle of the forest preserve in Ecuador for many years cultivating cacao trees, deciding after some time that he wanted to take the obsession to another level.
From the beginning, he says the goal of To’ak Chocolate was to “elevate dark chocolate to the level of vintage wine and aged whisky.” To’ak Chocolate is made with the rarest cacao beans in the world, which guests on the tour have the opportunity to experience at almost every level of crafting.
At the archaeological site of Santa Ana La Florida, travelers can explore the evidence left of the first domestic use of cacau among the Mayo-Chinchipe culture, dating back more than 5,000 years ago. With a visit to To’ak’s cacao plantation in the Valle Piedra de Plata, guests can roam the forest of nacional cacao trees, one of the most prized cacao beans on Earth and a species that was almost wiped from existence.
Photos courtesy Brown + Hudson.
Most appealing, though, will be the exclusive after-hours chocolate tasting in the Guayasamin Museum, creating a collective journey that acts as a portal into the culture, philosophy and emotions of the region.
Just as importantly, chocolate tends to play a complementary component in travel as well as dessert. Artisans of Leisure’s Food and Wine excursions provide in-depth private tours that couples the very best wine with other culinary and cultural highlights of the region, including chocolate.
For example, the “Bordeaux to Basque Country” tour includes sampling local wines, touring vineyards, viewing the architecture of several winery buildings, and sampling delicacies like chocolate found in the area.
This journey takes guests through cities and regions known for authenticity and tradition, from the half-timber houses and charming shops of Bayonne in southern France to the gastronomic capital of northern Spain, San Sebastian.
San Sebastian, Spain
Photo courtesy Artisan of Leisure.
While chocolate may not be thought of as the perfect complement to exercise, tour operators at UTracks have designed a self-guided bicycle tour that rides through the mountains and quaint cities of Switzerland, with special access to chocolatier shops and stops along the way. Tour Operator Kate Baker says the “Swiss Chocolate Cycle” tour offers the perfect balance of both travel and exercise. “Being active on holidays means you can indulge guilt free — a much better proposition than eating chocolate without being active.”
The tour will have participants cycling between cities throughout Switzerland, starting and ending in Zurich. Baker notes that “of course being in Switzerland, there are opportunities throughout the tour to taste artisan and more mainstream brands of chocolate.” In the town of Buchs, travelers will meet with chocolatiers at the Frey Chocolate visitor center to make their own chocolate bar. And after a peaceful bike trail along the Reuss River to the town of Root, travelers can experience the exciting world of Chocolatier Aeschbach, known for its tradition-conscious methods and high quality.
Other cities and destinations on the tour include the relaxing spa town of Baden, known for its thermal springs; views of the Swiss Alps through orchards and fields to the town of Sursee; a yacht trip around the bay of Lucerne; and so much more. The active aspect of the trip, Baker says, helps travelers to further witness the infusion of chocolate in many aspects of these cities. “A cyclist looks forward to every food experience, and moving between towns allows one to discover a range of cuisine.”
Top: Baden, Switzerland
Right: Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Photos courtesy Switzerland Tourism.
With the guidance of experts, travelers are able to experience more than simple sightseeing.
Spanning across Africa, Europe and The United States, these expert-led trips — curated by Architectural Adventures — blend world-class vacations with a deep appreciation for culture, history and architecture. Serving as the official travel program of The American Institute of Architects, Architectural Adventures plans each trip alongside knowledgeable architectural experts — unlocking the historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance behind the world’s most notable architecture.
©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck
©istockphoto / TomasSereda
“In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city.”
Whether she’s embracing the local language, indulging in local cuisine, or exploring historic architecture, Sophia Gruzdys — an Architectural Adventures expert since 2017 — brings her own perspective to each tour she plans.
The licensed architect and educator has led tours in Barcelona and Rome, and will lead two Barcelona tours in 2019. “In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city,” Gruzdys explains.
In Rome, travelers explore a wide range of architectural styles — including Contemporary, Fascist-style, Art Deco, and Renaissance. Meanwhile in Barcelona, travelers visit Antoni Gaudí’s iconic Sagrada Família and recently opened Casa Vicens, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famed Bareclona Pavillion, and the modern urbanism of the @22 District. “It’s fascinating to compare the styles that emerged in our culture in different periods of history in different cities,” Gruzdys says.
Gruzdys, who encourages travelers to engage with local languages and embrace local culture, values the importance of hands-on experience. “It’s so rewarding to travel with people who are interested in the architecture — and to share their enjoyment. Each time I visit the sites, I’ll notice something new, and continue to learn from the experiences of others,” she says.
©istockphoto / TomasSereda
“I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures.”
San Antonio, Texas, United States
First discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1600s, San Antonio’s identity has always been strongly rooted in Mexican culture, history, art and architecture. From exploring the city’s Spanish colonial past at the Alamo and other UNESCO World Heritage Missions to cruising along the San Antonio Riverwalk, those who travel to San Antonio will be deeply immersed in local culture.
Jane Martin — architecture educator, historian and resident of San Antonio — will lead her first trip with Architectural Adventures in 2019 in her hometown. “I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures,” she says. “There is a lot to see in San Antonio, and I am constantly discovering new things. There are a great variety of architectural styles — with everything from Spanish Colonial, all the way to International Modern.”
Travelers will also visit Sir David Adjaye’s cutting-edge Ruby City, the newest of the city’s world-class museums, and learn about historic Pearl Brewery, now a 22-acre complex with housing, retail and fine dining. “I hope this trip helps to bring San Antonio to the world, encourages people to sign up for the tour and enjoy the city,” Martin says.
©istockphoto / Marco_Bonfanti
From marveling at Milan Cathedral, touring Santa Maria delle Grazie (home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper), to visiting the UniCredit Tower, those who travel to Milan will surely learn a great deal from Architecture Adventures expert David Rifkind.
Leading a nine-day tour in 2019, the architectural history professor and practicing architect will explore the city’s range of historic architecture, as well as its recent cultural renaissance — which led to the creation of new museums, sustainable architecture, and Contemporary art exhibits. “I was surprised to learn that architects tend to be very interested in Contemporary architecture,” notes Rifkind, who also finds that non-architects tend to be more interested in historic structures.
Rifkind’s trip to Milan will bring together a unique group of travelers, consisting of both architects and non-architects from around the globe. “The dynamic of the people on the trip really does impact the experience in a really positive way,” Rifkind says. “Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical. It has been rewarding to learn how travelers experience places that I thought I understood.”
While Rifkind understands the importance of an informative lecture, he also highly values hands-on learning. “It is really fascinating when a relatively small group of people experience a city together,” says Rifkind, who made unique contributions for this trip to contrast classroom learning.
“Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical.”
©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck
“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture.”
From volunteering in Tunisia for the Peace Corp to lecturing at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan, Architectural Adventures expert Stanley Ira Hallet’s range of cultural experiences has prepared him to lead a tour throughout Morocco in 2019.
“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture,” says Hallet. The trip will include visits to the Hassan II Mosque, the French-designed Habous Quarter, and the Majorelle Garden (a two-and-a-half-acre botanical garden).
Whether travelers are exploring the ancient capital of Mauretania, Volubilis, visiting the medieval school of Bouanania (which was built in the 1300s), or marveling at the Sahara Desert, Hallet says they will partake in a “completely different urban experience.”
Hallet, who also has a passion for photography, hopes the trip will offer travelers a more complete story of Morocco.
Engel & Völkers | Mallorca West
Archiduque Luis Salvador, 1, E-07179 Deià, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
On Mallorca, the West Coast where the Sierra de Tramuntana is located has recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, remains one of the most authentic and sought after areas of the island. The Engel & Völkers real estate team will be pleased to present you with the best properties in this region, both those seeking a second home for the summer and those who have decided to reside here permanently.
Listings by Engel & Völkers | Mallorca West
A GEM ON THE WEST COAST OF THE TRAMUNTANA
IThe origins of this extraordinary estate date back to the 13th century. In 1983, the former winery was awakened from its slumber. The impressive entrance hall leads into the living room with its imposing archways — a spacious, luminous room was created. There is an open-plan studio area with a dining and a conference table, a gallery and a library. On the ground floor, there is also the Majorcan-style, fully fitted kitchen and on the same level as a charming covered terrace. On this floor, there is also a cozy guest wing with a private terrace with sea views. The entire 1st floor accommodates 5 bedrooms with private baths. There is so much to say about this extraordinary property — only a personal impression will convey the true atmosphere. This is a unique, premium home in the Sierra de Tramuntana, which must be viewed.
E&V ID W-02BEEL. €16,500,000.
“Cap Blanc Ibiza” is in one of Spain’s most desired locations on the island — Cap Martinet, Talamanca.
The exclusive private residence of nine luxury villas was designed so each home ensures the privacy and seclusion of its owners.
“It is just a short drive to the world’s best nightlife, and some of the most spectacular white-sand beaches you can imagine,” says Richard Lacey of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Blue Moon who is representing the property. “Ibiza is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.”
The home showcases stunning architecture inspired by contemporary, Brazilian design — a work of a team of leading Dutch and Spanish architects that create these properties where outdoors and indoors merge and flow.
Notable features include floor-to-ceiling windows and large doors that provide unobstructed views of the sea and the island of Formentera. “The lounge for me is the best spot, high ceilings with lots of light, ideal for entertaining,” says Lacey.
Listed for 3.75 million euros, the home also features 600 square meters of living space over three floors, five en-suite bedrooms, open-space fully equipped kitchen, incredible sea views, private garden with spacious swimming pool, private garage, state-of-the-art security, additional service kitchen, fitness room and sauna, and a wine cellar. There is also an optional private movie theater and separate accommodation for staff. The nine residences that make up Cap Blanc Ibiza offer unparalleled amenities and facilities for those seeking a place to relax in comfortable luxury.