Whether for adventure travel or more relaxing respites, travelers are increasingly seeking regionally-authentic itineraries that offer an intimate view of local cultures. In fact, reports show the trend of being “connoisseurs of local culture” will boom this year. “Indigenous tourism and cultural immersion experiences—especially those with culinary components—are white hot,” says travel expert Merilee Kern of TheLuxeList.com. “For culturally AND culinary-minded meanderers, food tourism has evolved into a mission critical travel consideration.” Exemplifying this is data from Venngage underscoring the importance of food in travel, revealing that over a third of tourism spending is devoted to food. In fact, nearly three fourths of millennials—69.4 percent—are “food & cuisine driven travelers,” according to a Destination Analysts, Inc. study, which also revealed baby boomers are like-minded at 62.7 percent.
Interestingly, this foodie-driven travel trend is being bolstered by the private villa vacation sector, specifically, with many such residences surpassing leading luxe resorts relative to authentic epicurean experiences in addition to accommodations and amenities. “Today’s bespoke breed of private villa vacation rentals have become the ultimate ‘victual vacation’ indulgence for leisure and business travelers, alike,” notes Kern.
One private villa exemplifying this experience is Casa Dos Cisnes –Puerto Vallarta’s foremost premier private oceanfront villa. This 10,000 square foot property, a five-bedroom colonial style home with breathtaking views of the Pacific, goes over-and-above to ensure each gasto-guest’s needs, desires and expectations for an extraordinary, foodie-forward private villa vacation are fulfilled. This includes custom gourmet meals prepared on-site by a dedicated 5-star private chef specializing in Mexican-contemporary cuisine, served in an elegant separate dining room that seats up to 12. This private gourmet chef also prepares what this villa calls a “Magical Mexican Fiesta”—a lively evening of regional food, cocktails and Mexican musicians entertaining at the property. This is available to guests in addition to three full meals a day plus snack and happy hour service, which can be served in the dining room or the separate dining terraces at the main and pool levels.
But the baroque benefits of Casa Dos Cisnes far exceed these epicurean exploits, as its bevy of other premium amenities—availed in an authentic and stylishly-appointed residential setting—include 24/7 bilingual butler service and multiple staff, monitored security, housecleaning services, private infinity-edge ocean view pool, fully equipped state-of-the-art gym, large media-entertainment room, concierge and spa service, musicians for hire, sports and boating excursions, VIP treatment at the city’s leading beach club and most renowned restaurants, and more. Given that guests enjoy complete privacy and security in the most exclusive area in Puerto Vallarta, commandeering the entire 10,000 square foot space with all of the relaxation, solitude and discretion that affords, the result is a remarkable culinary and luxury living vacation experience.
“While gourmet private chef-prepared meals, maximized privacy and security, uber-tailored guest service and 5-star accommodations and amenities are chief reasons the trend toward private villa lodging is exploding, an elite few like Casa Dos Cisnes have offerings far beyond that don’t just rival, but far exceed, those offered by high-end resorts—including those elite Penthouse suites,” Kern says. “Private villa residences offering first class, one-of-a-kind services are ushering in an entirely new era of bespoke hospitality around the globe. They are, in fact, single-handedly setting a new and decidedly elevated standard for luxe travel worldwide.”
Another facet of food tourism helping drive demand for regionally-authentic itineraries is the escalation of Artificial Intelligence (AI)—a tech trend that will continue to evolve at a rapid pace. According to Advito’s 2017 Industry Forecast , AI has already enabled a range of apps, bots and software that makes it easier for industry purveyors to interact with travelers and diners at every step of a trip to expedite, ease and enhance. AI automates computer processes to work in the same way as the human brain. Natural language processing (NLP) helps computers understand human speech or typing, and AI then applies machine learning to provide a useful response.
In the food and beverage realm travelers will rely on AI more and more. Many already use conversational voice-driven platforms like Google’s AI personal assistance or iPhone’s Siri function to research and arrange dining plans, winery tours, festival attendance and more foodie fun all over the world. “Throngs of AI-equipped smart-device apps are available for suggestions, streamlined reservation bookings and other assists like on-demand intel on that boutique wine label or locavore food ingredient you’re not familiar with,” Kern says.
Advito reveals that the travel industry is “well-positioned to embrace AI,” and also that the wider travel industry is adopting the technology. “AI is still in its infancy, but it is in our immediate future,” the report asserts. “As it develops, it will help simplify complex travel decisions, shorten the buying process and deliver a more personalized offering.”
With the world economy poised to regain momentum and the penchant among consumers to spend on experiences like travel and gourmet food and wine rather than clothes and accessories, the future is tasty for hospitality.