Now You’re Cookin’
There are plenty of ways to bite into the sizeable food-tourism market.
Food tourism remains a strong industry trend, with local cuisine being a key way in which travelers learn about a destination. The World Food Travel Association’s 2016 Food Travel Monitor reports that out of 2,800 surveyed, 93 percent participated in a unique food or beverage activity while traveling in the past two years. These experiences go deeper than finding a great spot for dinner; travelers are also interested in hands-on experiences, learning about local foodways, and activities that instill a sense of place.
At Mexico’s Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, just north of Puerto Vallarta, cooking classes and tours of its on-site restaurants (of which there are more than 40) give guests a behind-the-scenes view on how dishes are made as well as what they reveal about the surrounding area. “When people come to our resorts, we want them to learn and taste the culture of Mexico,” says Ignacio Lechuga, food and beverage director at the property. “We know that our offerings have to meet and exceed the expectations of any foodie that travels to the resort.”
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta also keeps owners engaged by refreshing its offerings. “Our guests return year after year to see what new concepts and culinary offerings we’ve created,” Lechuga says. Owners will soon be able to tour the resort’s new farm, which will grow 20 acres of fresh produce and include a restaurant. “When opening a new concept, plan, plan, plan!” Lechuga says. “Find something attractive to your market and keep it authentic while adding your own flavor and personality to it.”
Across the border, Cibola Vista Resort and Spa, in Peoria, Arizona, leverages community resources to tap into the food-tourism market. “We are just beginning to venture into [food tourism] by building relationships with our local vendors,” says Mitchell Laskowitz, regional vice president of Cibola Vista Resort and Spa. Through partnerships with Haymaker restaurant and Peoria Artisan Brewery, the property has been able to offer guests a sampling of regional flavor with craft beer tastings and margarita mixing classes. “Our guests are looking to experience Arizona from a resident’s point of view, and this allows them to get immersed in that,” Laskowitz says. Later this year, Cibola Vista will begin testing culinary events with food trucks and musicians.
Whether you have the resources for 40 restaurants and ever-changing offerings like Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta or decide to home in on authenticity like Cibola Vista, there are many entry points into food tourism, no matter the property size.
Image credit: iStockphoto