One of the most enjoyable ways of exploring a destination is to experience a local food trail, and hotels are offering plenty of options.
Serving a sumptuous meal to a guest at a hotel and wowing his palate, is clearly not enough. Today, hotels create engaging environments and opportunities, where guests can experience exceptional culinary offerings in unforgettable surroundings, albeit to get a flavour of the local food. From early morning visits to fish and vegetable markets with chefs, followed by a culinary master-class at the hotel, to experiencing the flavours of Old Delhi and from a visit to the local baker to a meal at an old-fashioned haveli, hotels today are offering them all. These bespoke experiences are designed to help guests get the optimum out of a destination.
Each activity benefits from the hotel’s insight into each locality and has been designed to provide a truly insider’s experience. Most experiences can be wholly tailored to the individual and offer guests, the opportunity to truly engage with the local culture and community.
ITC Hotels across India, are known for their food. A Responsible Luxury approach to their culinary endeavours ensures that they showcase local favourites that mirror the culture of the region. But that’s not all. Their Food Sherpa trails across the country give their guests an insight into the local flavours, while having a lot of fun.
Siddharth Savkur, General Manager, Alila Diwa Goa, explains, “With a growing awareness and respect for work-life balance, more people are prioritising vacations and ‘down time’. Leisure travellers are now looking beyond the hotel brand and seek unique experiences from the destination.”
Delhi, as a destination, offers a lot to tourists, but its eclectic cuisine adds to its aura. The Old Delhi trail organised by ITC Maurya Delhi, thus takes guests on a journey of age-old flavours that are still alive in the melting pot of Delhi’s culture. Dahi Bhalla at Natraj Café, lip-smacking chaats at Hira Lal Chaat Corner, kebabs at Karim’s and Al-Jawahar’s next to the Jama Masjid, jalebis at the famous Jalebiwala and Paranthewali gali, are some of the flavours guests are treated to.
Le Meridien Delhi, too, as part of its ‘Destination Unlocked’, or unlocking the destination through locallyinspired flavours, ensures their guests experience Purani Dilli by going for the Masterji Kee Haveli tour.
Meena Bhatia, Vice President, Marketing & Operations at Le Meridien New Delhi, elaborates, “This guided tour of Shahjahanabad or Chandni Chowk’s lanes, bazaars, the famed spice market and the grand old part of Delhi which is steeped in history, gives guests an authentic experience of the bygone era.” A key focus of this tour is a special visit to the old palace style haveli, where guests are treated to an Indian style home-cooked meal complete with an explanation of the food and how it should be eaten.
The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, too organises a specially curated ‘Rickshaw Tour’ for its patrons giving them a chance to experience the multi-faceted charms of Old Delhi. Ajith Vasu, Les Clef d’or Concierge, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, explains, “With the Rickshaw Tour, guests get transported 400 years back in time. The fascinating tour takes guests through the city’s historical sites. The stroll through Chawri Bazar, Kinari Bazar and Ajmeri Gate lets patrons get their fill of Old Delhi street food favourites.”
Le Meridien Nagpur offers a curated experience as well. Food in Nagpur too can be a sensory overload. Varadhi cuisine influences the city and the interior regions of the state. This culinary tour starts with ‘Poha Chana Rassa’ lavishly garnished with Chivda, at Kishore’s; and includes Saoji at Jagdish Bhojnalaya, one of the most talked about preparations in Nagpur for non-vegetarian food, followed by a Varadhi Thaat or thali, that comprises local delicacies like Mirchi ka Thecha, Jhunka, Patodi cha Rassa, Bhakar, Gode Bhaat, etc. The tour ends with Orange Barfi at Shree Heera Sweets.
Nothing beats the aroma and taste of freshly baked bread. Alila Diwa Goa takes their guests to the local bread man, known as ‘podher’ and guests watch him as he works his magic with a mixture of flour, yeast, water and lots of muscle power. And, of course, they get to taste several varieties including pao, poi and kankon.
Equally exciting is the visit they organise to the Tropical Spice Plantation in Keri. Guests can enjoy a traditional welcome before embarking upon a guided tour of the plantation where they can learn about various spices and their medicinal values, ending the day with a Goan lunch.
With a taste of local flavours and witnessing a slice of local life, guests return home more enriched and wellinformed, than just a regular visit to a destination. No wonder, hotels are going that extra mile to provide these indigenous experiences.
written by : Mini Ribeiro