Somehow, I can relive my travel experience as I recall the smells and tastes. In Shanghai, the dishes were especially flavorful, with more soy sauce, sugar, rice wine and rice vinegar than other regional specialties. However, I must confess I was just as impressed by the sweet taste and aroma of the Jasmine tea infused vodka martini at the Jazz Bar at the Fairmont Peace Hotel (www.lhw.com/hotel/Fairmont-Peace-Hotel-Shanghai-China).
My personal experiences are not unique. We’ve heard over and over recently about the growing traveler interest in culinary experiences. A 2013 reader survey taken by Conde Nast Traveler revealed that 62% want to enjoy culinary, wine or liquor tastings (up from 51% in 2012) and 52% have planned a trip that centers around food (up from 43% in 2012). Travelers visiting China are no exception. Even China’s new marketing campaign emphasizes travelers’ desires to “expand their personal horizons,” in terms of “culture, culinary, and living like a local.” The question is, how can your clients have this unique and special culinary experience in China?
A number of tour operators offer commissional culinary travel packages. For an extensive list of US Tour operators offering China tours can be found on CNTO’s website at: www.cnto.org/travel-trade/list-of-tour-operators
One particular tour operator, Intrepid Travel, is offering its Real Food Adventure-China (www.intrepidtravel.com) according to your client’s own choice of departure date. The trip includes: Peking Duck and the Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing, guan tang baozi (steamed buns with gravy) for breakfast in Xi’an, followed by local snacks in the afternoon, Sichuan hotpot in Chengdu along with a farm village visit, and a fresh fruit and vegetable market in Shanghai. Also on the menu is a northern Chinese cooking class. The 10-day trip starts at $2,035 land-only and is valid through December 31, 2014. Agents receive
Custom Culinary China
SITA World Travel (www.sitatours.com) offers custom culinary programs. According to Mary Barnett, who has traveled to China over 70 times since it opened in 1979 and is now head of Concierge Sales, the personalized itineraries include all of what the other companies are offering, but also hidden restaurants, a chance to eat in a chef’s home, visiting and eating at an organic farm, and cooking classes in Beijing and Chengdu.
Guides FOR Day Tours
For agents who need to book culinary extensions for clients on business trips or wish to add some gourmet spice to free days on general interest tours. Here are some private guides and guiding companies who will work with you:
In Beijing: Hias Gourmet (www.hiasgourmet.com) offers group or private culinary walks, tastings, and cooking classes.
In Shanghai: UnTour Shanghai (www.untourshanghai.com) founded by food writers Jamie Barys and Kyle Long, who also blog at www.culinarybackstreets.com
For agents with upscale clients staying at the Park Hyatt Beijing during select weekend dates at the turn of each season in January, March, June, and September, the hotel offers its special Masters of Food and Wine program. The program taught in both English and Chinese allows both resident and visiting gourmands and oenophiles to gain insight and exposure into the best characteristics of regional cuisine. Program details and pricing for upcoming dates are available by emailing: