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As the leisure crowd crisscrosses the skies looking for new experiences, many travelers are bypassing the tourist pamphlets and buses in search of something a little more nuanced. Of course people will continue to “X” off world-famous spots such as the Taj Mahal, Big Ben and Walt Disney World from their must-see checklists. And why? Because it’s an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and that is what travelers are looking for. The sight itself might be unequivocally alluring, but the fact that you can’t see or do that particular thing anywhere else in the world is what makes it even more special. 

Today’s travelers are looking for that sense of special in every aspect of their trips, and many are achieving that by living like the locals – even if only for the weekend. One of the simplest yet most-effective ways to achieve that is through food. So after the Taj Mahal, one might treat themselves to some sticky sweet jalebis off an Indian roadside. Here are a few ideas to help your hotel guests live out their travel dreams. 

Do It Yourself

There you and your hotel are, residing in (enter your city here) day after day, year after year, and I’m sure you’ve learned a thing or two about how the locals live. In fact, you employ them. Instead of designing menus based on generic cuisine, work with your chefs to delve deep into the city’s soul and create exciting dishes that play off of traditional flavors and recipes. It’s not just about growing some spinach on the hotel’s rooftop and throwing it in a salad. What are people eating in their homes and on the street? A little taste of that should go on your menu, too. If not, guests will turn to companies such as Home Food and EatWith, which allow travelers to connect with hosting families to share a meal at the host’s home or a local favorite restaurant. These growing companies prove that guests aren’t afraid to try new things. In fact, they want to try new things. They just need an outlet that lets them do so. 

That idea guided Omni Hotels & Resorts last year when it created Simply Street Food. Last year, more than 100 chefs from San Antonio to Singapore competed to create street food-inspired dishes made popular in their homelands. The best dishes are celebrated on Omni’s Simply Street Food menu available at many of its properties. 

“We wanted to focus on food that is a bit more approachable, a bit more fun to eat, a bit more global, and international flavors that guests don’t always get to explore,” says John Brand, executive chef at Omni. 

Cook It Up

The Villa San Michele, located in the hills of Florence, Italy, was created as a monastery in the 15th century. Today, it is one of Europe’s most unique boutique luxury hotels operating by the philosophy that “there is nothing more modern than tradition.” The establishment offers guests a view into the Tuscany tradition with cooking classes at its Buono Buonissimo! Cookery School.

Renowned chefs teach hands-on lessons to guests about Tuscan gastronomy and traditional Italian cooking methods, ingredients and seasonal tastes.

Semi-immersive experiences such as this means that even after their stay is over, guests can cook up a mini vacation back home.  Something they’ll thank you for.

The Right Direction

Your guests are going to explore outside of the hotel at some point and when they do, they might look to you for ideas of where to go. But instead of automatically recommending the convenient restaurant across the street, give them an insider’s view. Where’s the best street food? That restaurant with no name on the front but the best empanadas in town? Which café has the best coffee? If you get the sense that a guest is looking for something more, go ahead and give it to them. They just might remember you the next time they’re in town. 

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