Culinary Vacations Not ‘Cookie-Cutter’ With Destination Discoveries

As we’ve continued to report at Gadling, a new generation of culinary tours is on the rise. Food-loving travelers want more than generic cooking classes that teach how to make pad thai in Thailand or risotto in Tuscany. And a few companies – such as Destination Hotels & Resorts, North America’s fourth largest hotel management company – are complying by offering tours and classes that focus more on culture, locality and experiential elements.

With the launch of Destination Discoveries, hotel guests can tour the on-site apiary at Kirkland, Washington’s, The Woodmark, before taking a honey-themed cooking class with Chef Dylan Giordan. On Maui, personalized farm tours enable participants to harvest ingredients for a private class in their accommodation, as well as visit producers and sample handcrafted foods from the island.

The adventures aren’t just limited to food. There are also art, literature and active themes that reflect a sense of place; fly-fishing lessons in Lake Tahoe; nordic pursuits in Vail; art classes in Santa Fe; or a cultural and historic tour of Walden Pond via the Bedford Glen property in Boston. Here’s to more hotel groups doing away with homogenous travel.

[Photo credit: Destination Hotels & Resorts]

Unusual Hotels: From Large Dogs to You Name It.

For a fun romp through the world’s most unusual hotels, check out Unusual Hotels of the World, an on-line travel guide for the truly wacky and wonderful places to stay. This is a slick, slick Web site that reminds me of the thrill of opening presents or watching the mystery prizes of a game show unfold. I meant to do a quick look-see, but instead moved my cursor over the catagories to uncover the wonders of the world for some evening entertainment. (I had taken my daughter and a friend of hers to a movie earlier, so I’m not a total social reject.)

There are 20 different hotel categories represented by icons. The desert category has a camel; clouds represent fantasy; prison bars represent prisons (!) and a circle inside a circle that is a bit off, is one-of-a kind, etc. Finding out what the symbols represent kept me engaged. Ecotourism, kids and romance are some of the others. Then, move your cursor over a symbol, and a picture of a hotel in that category appears with a brief description. When you click on that, other properties appear. By clicking on those, you can find out specific details about each hotel. A thermometer graphic shows their ratings from “Different” to “WOW” Some hotels are under multiple categories.

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For example, at the “One of a Kind “category, the huge beagle in this photo appeared. It measures high on the WOW factor which means its more than just wacky, perhaps into something that is wild and wonderful. The dog with the deck in the photo is Dog Bark Park Inn, a B&B created by artists Dennis and Frances Sullivan in Cottonwood, Idaho. They also carve dogs out of pine in the folk art tradition, so along with staying in the hotel, you can watch them work and take a dog home with you.

If staying in a dog doesn’t interest you, there are pages and pages of other options. The creators of the Unusual Hotels of the World guide, Simon and Steve have a cache of contributors who reside in various parts of the world, penning about travel as they scout out locations worthy of inclusion. The homepage highlights the latest additions. As a note, the hotels price ranges, like their themes, vary. Some are major bucks. Others are doable if you are on a tight budget.