Food and wine experiences are surpassing art and culture as areas of interest for luxury travelers to Europe, reports Eurobound, the boutique tour operator specializing in independent and small group travel.
“While art and culture will remain driving forces for European travel, upscale travelers want to expand their horizons with new and immersive experiences that delve into food and wine,” says Brigitte Armand, Eurobound president. “We have seen a gradual increase in clients who want hands-on experiences such as cooking lessons and shopping at local markets with a master chef, hunting truffles, and visiting or enjoying stays at wine estates to sample distinctive vintages.”
Epicurean Collection Expands
Given the heightened interest in wine and food, Eurobound plans to expand its Epicurean Collection of customized packages to France, Italy, and Spain in 2017. Introduced in 2016, the Collection offers itineraries with accommodations in Italian wine estates, French chateaux, or ancient castles. Packages may feature special dinners highlighting regional cuisine, private visits to vineyards, personal meetings with wine makers, cheese tastings and cooking classes.
Italy Places First, with France a Close Second
Italy placed top (25%) in sales for Eurobound travelers in 2016, with France a close second (20%), Spain in third place (15%), and the UK fourth (10%). Ireland, Croatia, and Scandinavia are destinations coming up strong for 2017, reports Ms. Armand. While tourism to France experienced a slight downturn, Armand points out that this is a great time to visit, with museums and concert venues in full swing, and fewer tourists.
2017: Delving into “Hidden” Europe’s Smaller, Lesser-Known Areas
Eurobound’s 2017 plans call for expanding the company’s offerings into lesser-known towns and villages. “Much of our clientele are repeat travelers to Europe. They want to discover the ‘hidden Europe’ that most travelers don’t see, such as typical villages off the beaten path” says Jeff Roy, Eurobound’s Vice President, Sales & Marketing.
The company recently introduced its “Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages” initiative of self-drive itineraries that include Sardinia, San Marino, and the Chianti and the Casentino Valley in Tuscany. Roy notes that 2017 plans also call for adding new destinations in other countries such as Germany and Portugal.