It’s a scenario we’re all pretty familiar with: You ask someone how their recent trip was—and the answer invariably includes how delicious/creative/abundant the food was. And why not? What we eat and drink while on vacation is hands down one of the most memorable parts of any trip.
But if you’re looking to take your culinary escapades beyond just the typical restaurant visits, we’re here to help: There are number of hotels around the world—we’re talking everywhere from Malaysia to Tennessee to Mexico—that are taking their offerings up a notch, with a variety of food centered experiences. Read on—and then start booking:
1. Enjoy Michelin-Starred Chef-Made Cuisine in Malaysia
If Malaysia is on your list of places to visit, make sure it includes a stop at The Datai Langkawi, a 121-room resort on Langkawi island that encompasses both beach and rainforest. (Just look at these incredible villas!) Their culinary options are wonderful too, and throughout the year you can take part in The Chef Series, where chefs—many of whom have Michelin stars—come to the resort to create an extraordinary dining experience. That includes outdoor dinners in The Dining Room, which overlooks the Andaman Sea as well as, in some cases, cooking demos and classes. Chefs on the docket are South Korea’s Michelin-star chef Kim Hee-eun of Soul in June, Italy’s Michelin-star chef Cristina Bowerman of Glass Hostaria in August, and a trio of UK-based Michelin-star chefs in October.
2. Learn About Oyster Shucking From a Pro in New Orleans
Love oysters? Then the Oysters Take Flight experience at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans should definitely be on your agenda. You’ll start with a seaplane flight that takes you over the city, marshlands, and down to the coast of Grand Isle. There, “Oyster Daddy” Ryan Anderson, who runs the Little Moon Oyster Ranch, will give you a full tour and learning experience—plus the chance to try the beloved oysters. The hotel, which looks out at the Mississippi River, features a rooftop pool, spa, and more—and the oyster experience wraps with a seafood-inspired lunch at Chemin à La Mer, one of two on-site restaurants.
3. Get Outdoors with a Wine Hike in Tennessee
Yes, a Wine Hike is totally a thing—and you can take part in one at the all-inclusive, 650-acre Windy Hill Farm and Preserve in Loudon, Tennessee, about three hours outside Nashville. As they describe it, you’ll be able to “sample five wines while exploring a stroll along one of our hiking trails.” The experience lasts about 1.5 hours and includes housemade snacks. The resort has other culinary inspired offerings too, like a bourbon tasting and beekeeping/honey tasting—as well as a variety of other activities that you can access with their “activities pass”, including archery, cooking classes, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.
4. Spend a Weekend Indulging in Great Food in Los Cabos, Mexico
Why have one great dinner, when you can have a whole weekend dedicated to incredible food? At the Waldorf Astoria in Los Cabos, Mexico, you can do exactly that during one of their Festival of Flavors Culinary Weekends, which run throughout the year. That’s when chefs, like Jaime Pesaque and David Yoshimura, take the reins, including at a Chef VIP dinner. You can book their Culinary Weekend package, which includes everything from breakfast for two to airport transfers to $200 to use on culinary experiences, like a Mexican wine tasting or rooftop dinner. The hotel itself is full of great indulgences, including private plunge pools in each room, wellness weekends at the spa, and more.
5. Attend a Food Festival in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
For another reason to head to Mexico, consider one of the food festivals held at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, a lux resort in a gated community with gorgeous accommodations. Two upcoming festivals to know: A Chance to MEAT, on April 26 and 27, which spotlights—you guessed it—all things meat, along with music and drinks. As they explain, “The resort is set up with a variety of small stations, each with a unique, creative meat dish from a different chef featuring different preparations and techniques, using sustainably grown and locally sourced ingredients.” Then, there’s ThaiFest on August 23 and 24th, an event that focuses on Thai culture, with everything from food to dancing. They say, “Due to the popularity of ThaiFest, the stations have flooded out into the lobby and gardens of Banyan Tree, creating a magical indoor-outdoor dining experience that combines Banyan Tree’s Thai heritage with inspiration from the Mayan culture.”
6. Forage for Mushrooms and More in North Carolina
There’s plenty to love about Asheville, North Carolina, and that includes the Wild Food Foraging Tour at the Omni Grove Park Inn. As they explain, “Guests will learn how to safely identify, gather, serve, and preserve wild mushrooms, plants, and other extreme cuisine as they walk through the woods, right on the resort grounds.” The experience is led by forager and educator Alan Muskat and you’ll also have the chance to do a cooking lesson and tasting. Also cool: The chef will make you a complimentary appetizer at the on-site restaurant, Vue 1913, with the ingredients you found. All you have to do is bring your goodies to Guest Services. There’s also plenty of other things to keep you busy at the property, including an 18-hole golf course and huge sports and pool complex.
7. Immerse Yourself in Local Cuisine in Portugal
For a true taste of Portuguese culture, book the multi-day Sustainable Food and Wine experience at Quinta Camarena in Cercal do Alentejo, Portugal—about two hours south of Lisbon. In this four-day experience, you’ll do everything from checking out area farms and markets to cooking lessons and dinners, centering on vegetarian food. There are both set packages that include your stay, breakfast, and other activities as well as a general program you can partake in at any time. The boutique hotel—it houses only 16 people—is sustainably minded overall, with multiple wellness programs (like yoga and photography retreats) and eco-friendly aspects, like using solar power and skipping single-use plastics.