Foodies Opt for Vacation Rentals to Savor Destinations
AUSTIN, TX, July 3, 2007 — Culinary travel is heating-up, with travelers looking for local wining and dining experiences while on vacation. Food and wine are driving factors for nearly one in 5 travelers in choosing trip locations, according to a recent study conducted by the Travel Industry Association in partnership with Gourmet and the International Culinary Tourism Association.
"Niche travel is booming because travelers crave authentic experiences tailored to their likes and interests," says Justin Halloran, vice president of HomeAway, Inc., the worldwide leader in online vacation rentals. "Using homeowners’ advice and home amenities, vacation rentals make it easy for food-lovers to leave the annoying ‘tourist’ label at the door and experience each destination's unique culture."
Here’s a look at the top 6 reasons for culinary travelers to choose vacation homes instead of hotels:
1. Dispose of cookie-cutter accommodations. Hotel chains have rooms that literally look exactly the same in every location. Send the boring, bland, and utterly expensive room service back once and for all and savor the inherent authenticity of vacation homes, which range from condos to castles and farmhouses to fisheries.
2. Get back to the roots. Some vacation rentals are nested on vineyards, organic farms or orchards, or feature herb and produce gardens fresh for the picking. In California’s wine region, you can tour vineyards, and stay among them. A four-bedroom home in Sonoma County is surrounded by vines and lavender fields and olive trees, rosemary and vineyards color the land of a St. Helena vacation rental. The herb and vegetable gardens, chickens, dining pergolas and gourmet kitchen on the property create a food and wine lover's paradise. In Hot Springs, North Carolina, a working farm yields opportunities for families of food heads to gather eggs for breakfast and fish for trout in nearby streams.
3. Put your money where your mouth is. On average, hotels are 50 percent more expensive per square foot than vacation rentals, so staying in vacation rentals in foodie hot spots equals more money to allocate on food. A 2,500-square-foot, two-bedroom NYC SoHo apartment rental provides neighborhood access to Mercer Grill, Balthazar’s and other trendy restaurants, cafes and bars. HomeAway.com lists more than 130 homes in Aspen, and more than 75 in South Beach, putting travelers in the middle of the action for the best wine and food festivals in the country such as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival February 21-24, 2008 or the Food & Wine Classic held mid-June in Aspen.
4. Homeowners’ advice, not concierges. Vacation rental homeowners provide tips to top restaurants, local produce, best markets and farmers markets. "As a courtesy to my renters, I provide information about where to find local goods so they can experience the cuisine that’s indigenous to the area and taste flavors they can’t find anywhere else" says Christine Karpinski, vacation home owner and director of owner community for HomeAway. "For example, I always tell the renters of my Destin, Florida condos where and when they can find Royal Red shrimp?they’re just as succulent as lobster, and are caught right off the Atlantic coast."
5. Eat in. Kitchens not only let you save additional dough on vacation and allow you to easily cater to special dietary needs, but they also let you experience the joy of cooking using local ingredients. For instance, a six-bedroom Barnard, Vermont vacation home features a fully-stocked cook’s kitchen. In fact, many homeowners, like Rusty Irons in Austin, Texas, take pride in stocking their fridges and pantries with destination-specific essentials such as local beers, BBQ sauces and salsas. Gourmet kitchens in many properties feature Wolf, Viking, and Sub-Zero appliances and outdoor kitchens (there’s even a home in the Chianti region of Tuscany with an outdoor pizza oven) and grills are perfect for al fresco celebrations. Large dining tables provide plenty of space for friends and family to indulge in long meals and sip fine wines, without worrying about the drive home.
6. Personal chef à-la-carte or all-inclusive. Some prices of luxury vacations include personal chefs, and at others, travelers pay an additional fee to have chefs prepare specified meals. Either way, these top chefs use local flavors to make sure that each bite is a culinary journey unto itself.
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