A journey through Spain’s Rich Culture and Sublime Cuisine
I wanted to start my first post by wishing you all a Very Happy New Year. 2015 is a great year to awaken your taste buds in the land of El Bulli and Cervantes for the ultimate culinary experience and cultural adventure.
According to Restaurant Magazine’s poll of international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and restaurant critics, three out of the best eight restaurants in the world are located on Spanish soil.
On their 2014 edition, the second place has been bestowed to El Celler de Can Roca, a Catalan family restaurant offering Modern Spanish cuisine; the sixth place has been granted to Mugaritz with its techno-emotional Spanish cuisine; and the eighth place has been awarded to Arzak, a family-run San Sebastián restaurant skilled in cutting-edge Basque cuisine. Curated as a culinary experience like no other, this exceptional journey will take you to all three.
Stay on the grounds of La Alhambra in picturesque Granada; visit the Guggenheim and Chillida Museums in the Basque Country; and tour Gaudi’s works in Barcelona. Complete the experience by relishing in a rare caviar tasting at Europe’s first organic caviar producing sturgeon farm in Granada to touring a local market in San Sebastián ushered by a renowned chef who will then organize a cooking party.
The Camellia Route: “Pazos” and Gardens full with history
It is unknown whether Marco Polo brought camellias as a souvenir from China. If he did so, he unknowingly pioneered the first pilgrim camellia that found a home in the aristocratic gardens of the Galician “Pazos”.
The English and Dutch were applied to study with enthusiasm the properties of the leaves, and in the mean time the discarded flowers arrived in their ships to London and Lisbon. And from there, renamed as camellias in honor of a Jesuit missionary, arrived to Galicia.
Centuries later the only route in Europe dedicated to discover the more than 8,000 varieties of camellias, housed in streets and squares of the towns of Galicia, was created. A journey from garden to garden, from pazo to pazo, that gives light to the landscape and soul of Galicia.
Our proposal takes us through this evocative journey from northern to southern Galicia through manors and gardens where the varieties of Camellia reign in their entire splendor. As examples, the “Camellia reticulata” found in the impressive Pazo de Oca, is perhaps the oldest in Europe. Or the Camellias at Pazo de la Saleta, brought by an Englishman in 1968 and that perfectly adapted to the environment.
Finally, at Pazo del Sar, we will enjoy a nineteenth century French garden in perfect condition. The old vineyards surrounded by more than 50 species of fruit trees bring us back lost flavors.
Pazos and landscapes in an elegant decadence, authentic bothanical gardens created with care and wisdom that will discover you their beauty secrets.
A personal view on incentive travel
All kind of literature has been written around incentives. In my point of view, monetary bonuses come and go while experience incentive travel programs are there to stay in the memory of your stakeholders. They are much more than simple rewards for top clients and performers. They are a benefit to the company that helps to promote revenue growth, customer acquisition, and employee and client retention.
Both in individual or group rewards, immersing into the local culture turns it from a trip into a journey of experience. The local component adds authenticity, interest and most importantly emotion. It is this emotional element that makes the trip endure long.
My first example of such a reward is an eye-opening trip through The Culture of Wine along the Duero River: Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Porto are the regions to discover. It is a journey through Spain and Portugal, an interesting way of getting to know two cultures around wine, with a common denominator, the Douro River, combining the best wine and food activities with other more active proposals.
Another option is a singular Galician Route from North to South. A journey of great authenticity to learn about the wealth of this region that will take us to the Rias Altas and the Rias Baixas. An opportunity to discover a thousand year old light houses, glance at some of the highest cliffs in Europe, taste Albariño in world-known wineries, sail the Miño river on a private boat in the Ribeira Sacra or in a classic sail boat around the clear waters of the Cíes Islands.
The key is to design a trip to enjoy, to feel and to share with the most valued clients or employees.