A good deal of travel these days centres on food and drink as much as scenery. Travellers eat gourmet meals, drink fine wine and, in some cases, do the cooking themselves. Here are some examples:
Tuscan Way offers a five-night cooking and spa vacation in Bagno Vignoni, Italy, a medieval spa village around thermal waters in the Val d’Orcia, 40 minutes south of Siena and an hour from Florence. The year-round package costs $2,950 (about Rs1,19,000) per person. Call 800-766-2390 or visit tuscanway.com.
September and October are the months for the wine harvest throughout Portugal, complete with grape stomping and parties. Most of the wineries have special activities—for instance, at Lagarda, in the Douro River region, visitors can join in the grape crushing. Many packages and programmes are available. The Port Harvest Tour, 1-7 October , features behind-the-scenes tastings at some of the region’s rising stars and famed port producers in Porto. The price is about $4,200 (about Rs1,67,000) a person. Visit fortheloveofport.com.
Pottermania: Boston’s Hotel Marlowe is offering a Harry Potter Package, which includes a night’s stay, a map to take guests on a “Hunt for Harry” around Harvard Square, magical sweets at Sweet Treats, Harry Potter spectacles for the whole family from the Curious George shop, and four movie tickets for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Rates start at $399 (about Rs16,000) a night, and the package is available till 3 September. Call 800-825-7040 or visit hotelmarlowe.com.
Check it out before check-in
Unsure about that “charming” two-star hotel you booked for your next trip to Paris? Wouldn’t a sneak peek into its bathroom or concierge area put your mind at ease? The minds behind tvtrip.com, a new website that offers video tours of European hotels, think so. Created by former managers of Expedia Europe, the free service offers 200 video tours of hotels in European capitals such as Rome and Madrid, and plans to offer 1,500 by the end of the year. The 45-second overview videos focus on public areas, restaurants, fitness centres and room categories. Reservations can be made through the hotel’s website or through a number of tvtrip.com partners, including expedia.com.