How can you receive complimentary travel perks on vacation? Book through a Vision Travel Advisor. Because Vison Travel is part of Virtuoso, the words leading luxury travel organisation, they can secure complimentary travel perks you can’t get on your own. These perks can include breakfasts, rooms upgrades or hotel credits, however, some hotels really bring the WOW with their travel perks. Here are the top 15 travel perks at Virtuoso hotels.
Hotel Castello di Casole, Casole D’Elsa, Italy
Complimentary travel perks: pizza making class or wine tasting or Italian language class
Guests can choose one of three activities, all of which help them experience Italian culture and people.
The property’s pizza chef shares the secrets of preparing traditional Tuscan pizza dough and toppings of local ingredients (some from the hotel’s own garden). The casual hands-on demonstration includes working the dough, topping the pizzas and baking them in a wood-fired stone oven. At the end of the popular 90-minute session, guests feast on their delicious creations.
Guided by the sommelier, guests taste three different local wines during a 30- to 40-minute experience. The sommelier provides detailed information on each wine, including the area and wineries where each is produced.
Guests can also choose a class to learn the Italian language in the region where it was born. During the 90-minute session, guests can learn or practice – according to their level – in a fun setting. Teachers from a professional language school in Siena come to the property for the classes, which can even be held in the privacy of a guest’s suite.
Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador
Complimentary travel perk: Six-course tasting menu with wine
The chef’s creations, served at the hotel’s restaurant, consist of all Ecuadorian ingredients. The service captain greets guests and outlines what they are about to enjoy. While guests sip a glass of South American sparkling wine as a welcome, the courses start arriving.
First might be red snapper ceviche, followed by swordfish with a plantain and peanut sauce. Next might come a prawn stew with tomato, onion and manioc sauce alongside cilantro pesto. Guests might then savor capeletti with ricotta, tomato, mushrooms, basil and sage butter. The dinner could end with llama spring rolls with vegetables, cilantro, jalapeño oil and guava. A half glass each of South American Chardonnay and Malbec accompany the meal. Dessert would be a sample of the restaurant’s sweets. The chef introduces himself during the last course and checks how guests enjoyed the experience.
Alpaga Megeve, Megeve, France
Complimentary travel perk: Tour in horse-drawn carriage
During the one-hour tour, guests enjoy the sights of the charming ski resort town of Megeve. The most dramatic views are those of the Alps, including the famous Mont-Blanc, Mont d’Arbois and Rochebrune.
Guests remain cozy with blankets in the open carriage during their winter wonderland tour. The authentic, unusual experience takes visitors back to the romance of a bygone era.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming
Complimentary travel perks: choice of cattle drive, scenic float, fly fishing or wing shooting
Lodge guests get an adventurous taste of the West with an authentic, customized outdoor experience. Guests can choose from one of four complimentary travel perks.
Those that opt for the cattle drive join wranglers to gather and move cattle to different pastures on the ranch. The horseback experience will take guests through various terrain as they move livestock to help the animals grow as well as maintain grass in each pasture.
The scenic river floats take place on the upper North Platte on quiet, whitewater-free stretches. Guests spend three hours traveling through canyons and forests, viewing the river valley’s pastoral beauty. They also spot wildlife, including moose and bald eagles.
Guests who choose fly fishing enjoy exclusive private access to the ranch’s creeks and rivers, spread over its 30,000 acres. With waders or drift boat, anglers catch hearty rainbow, brook and brown trout. A seasoned guide provides everything from detailed instruction to advice on where to fish depending on conditions.
Accompanied by professionally trained dogs and a guide, guests can also opt for wing shooting. The ranch offers a variety of hunting styles and a mixed bag of birds including pheasant, Hungarian partridge and quail. Equipment is provided
Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas, Phuket, Thailand
Complimentary travel perk: guided mountain bike tour
During the one-hour ride, a hotel employee leads guests on a scenic outing. They see a village with houses and shops, rubber tree and coconut plantations, vegetable farms and animals such as buffalo and cows.
Riders also take in the beautiful and serene Mai Khao temple, Jae San Lake and a marine national park. And they receive drinking water and a cool towel to refresh themselves.
El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica
Complimentary travel perk: private coffee tasting experience and a package of gourmet Costa Rican coffee
Costa Rica’s climate and topography produce coffee that is among the world’s best and most complex. During the hour-long experience, the concierge guides guests through a coffee tasting, including premium samples from the highlands that trim the property.
Guests learn about coffee’s introduction to Costa Rica. They discover its far-reaching social, cultural, and economic impact on the country. The concierge explains where coffee beans grow in Costa Rica, and how factors such as altitude, minerals in the soil, shade, rainfall and brewing process affect its acidity, body, and flavor. Guests leave knowing how to recognize a good cup of java. And they receive a souvenir package of coffee.
Hoshinoya Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Complimentary travel perk: Japanese incense ceremony
The aristocratic Monko tradition started in ancient Japan. Warriors of 500 years ago used aromatherapy as a form of entertainment before going into battle. Today, a Monko ceremony gives guests hands-on insight into how to prepare and burn incense.
The 40-minute ceremony takes place in a traditional tatami room at the hotel. English-speaking staff guide guests through the Monko ritual, a rare experience even in Japan. They learn to “listen to” the fragrance of incense with care and concentration, and fully appreciate it. Monko is a unique way to deepen a guest’s experience of Japan.
La Lancha, Tikal, Guatemala
Complimentary travel perk: guided bird-watching tour
The area around La Lancha is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with abundant parrots, swallows and woodpeckers (to name a few). Guests spend an hour or two observing birds either along the shores of Peten Itza Lake or in Tikal national park.
An expert from the local birders club helps the guest spot and identify feathered creatures. They get an assist from the resort’s loaner binoculars. The property recommends a 6 am start to see the most variety.
Dolphin Island Fiji, Rakiraki, Fiji
Complimentary travel perk: hands-on Fijian cooking experience
Property manager Dawn Simpson is also the head chef. For this experience, she shares her favorite local dishes and kitchen secrets with guests in a relaxed, convivial setting. Simpson can also take interested guests to the local market, where she carefully selects her produce.
Every day a fisherman stops at Dolphin Island on his way back to port with his catch. Guests select the fish and seafood they’d like to eat. Simpson cooks the catch in an Indo-Fijian fusion style. Spices, chillies, coconut, seafood, limes, native vegetables and exotic tropical fruits all feature in her creations. The informal (and delicious) experience is a genuine reflection of local culinary culture.
Blancaneaux Lodge, Central Farm, Belize
Complimentary travel perk: horseback riding trip
Led by a guide, guests enjoy a two-and-a-half-hour horse riding experience. They ride on canopied trails through the Jaguar Jungle. With a little luck, they can spot white tail deer, pacas (large rodents), grey foxes and more.
When they approach Big Rock Falls, they dismount the horses and take a brief hike down to the falls. There, guests swim and relax for an hour before returning to the lodge on horseback.