Believe it or not, there once was a time when rubbing elbows with locals wasn't on the minds of travel operators. In fact, when Trafalgar's Global CEO Gavin Tollman announced the launch of the ‘Be My Guest' program in 2009, industry insiders told him it would never work. After all, nothing like this had ever been done before.
Boy, were they wrong.
2019 marks 10 years of the 'Be My Guest' program, an inclusion featured on nearly all Trafalgar itineraries that has since expanded to over 100 one-of-a-kind experiences across all seven continents.
At the heart of the program is a vetted host who invites travellers into their home or place of business to offer a window into local life, often over a shared meal. 'Be My Guest' experiences offer the unique opportunity for travellers to visit homesteads, farms, vineyards, orchards and villas. Here, they explore the property and taste the spoils, from wine to olive oil to cocoa beans or vegetables picked on the spot. But 'Be My Guest' is more than a culinary tasting or site visit – it's experiential, immersive and deeply personal. All five senses are ignited as travellers share in candid conversations with hosts, learning about their community and livelihood through a local lens that truly adds a personal touch.
Trafalgar’s first ‘Be My Guest’ experience took place in Italy at a Sorrento lemon farm hosted by the Esposito sisters, relatives of an Italian Travel Director. Guests spent a relaxed evening chatting with the duo over a home-cooked meal and sipping limoncello as the citrus aroma sat heavy in the air. They ate, they drank, they laughed and they loved it. Just like that, ‘Be My Guest’ became an intrinsic part of the Trafalgar experience.
In celebration of the 10-year anniversary, here are five unique experiences, all set in the birthplace of the 'Be My Guest' program: idyllic Italy.
Dine with the Landi family in their Tuscan villa
Meet the Landi family who have been in Tuscany for eight generations and made the gorgeous Villa Il Leccio their home in the late 19th century. The Landis, headed up by host Giada, farm the land to produce Chianti wine and extra-virgin olive oil, which guests will sample during their exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience. Set against a backdrop of Tuscan vines and olive groves, guests will enjoy a guided walk through the garden, a visit to the cellars and a walk through the ancient villa, before being served a menu of traditional Tuscan fare using garden grown produce and prepared by Giada in the on-site kitchen.
Imbibe la dolce vita with Fabio in the heart of Rome
Meet Fabio and his family on Rome's Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for a cocktail reception in their apartment, which once belonged to the famous film director Michelangelo Antonioni, among other famous inhabitants.
Isola Tiberina is the only islet in the section of the Tiber River that flows through Rome and the bridges that connect it to the city have stood for centuries, making them among the oldest in the world. Guests will sip local wine as they explore the Roman excavations beneath the building.
As part of this exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience, clients will savour a three-course, home-cooked Italian meal as they learn about life on the world’s smallest inhabited urban island. They will also discover the legend that's said to have given rise to this boat-shaped islet surrounded by the city of Rome.
FIND IT ON: Trafalgar’s 10-day European Traveller itinerary.
Count Miari Fulcis and his romantic Tuscan estate
Enjoy Tuscan cuisine with Italian Count Miari Fulcis at his 15th-century organic olive oil estate in the hills overlooking Florence, which has been used as a set location for famous films including Room with a View and Tea with Mussolini.
This exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience will see clients explore the fattoria (farm) which is home to 20,000 organic olive trees, animals and stunning gardens, all while learning about past guests of the estate – like Queen Victoria. The farm's olives are picked by hand to produce one of Europe’s finest olive oils.
In addition to learning about the oil making process over a tasting, travellers will have time to mingle in the formal gardens where they’ll find ornamental follies and meet the resident animals – Limousin cows and Amirata donkeys – before enjoying a delicious Tuscan spread.
Signor Pierluca Telli's Piedmontese spread
Join Signor Pierluca Telli for a traditional Piedmontese dinner and good company at his La Piratera restaurant on a pretty island in the middle of Lake Maggiore. This exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience will see Trafalgar clients take a private boat ride across the lake to Isola Madre to hear the story of The Pirate Island before Pierluca invites guests to join him for dinner. La Piratera is a family-run restaurant housed in a 13th-century tower which was once used as a lookout post. Guests will enjoy local flavours such as risotto cooked with Gavi wine and Parmesan, homemade cake and grappa di Moscato. It's a night to be savoured that will not soon be forgotten.
Meet you at the Rotolo family masseria
The Rotolo family has operated their organic masseria (olive farm) in Italy’s Puglia region for six generations. Guests will first meet Alex, a friend of the Rotolos, who will then introduce them to the extended family, including Marianna, who does all the cooking for this exclusive ‘Be My Guest’ experience. Travellers pay a visit to the farm to taste fresh almonds, cherries, tomatoes, olive oil and almond juice (depending on the time of year) and witness a stone masonry demonstration before viewing a traditional "Trulli," the region’s curious, conical-shaped dwelling.
FIND IT ON: Trafalgar’s 17-day Grand Italian Experience itinerary.
Points of focus to close the sale
- 2019 marks Trafalgar’s 10th anniversary of ‘Be My Guest’ experiences, so travellers can be assured that these are well-curated by an experienced team of professionals.
- The interaction and connections ‘Be My Guest’ offers travellers are one-of-a-kind, allowing guests to share meaningful moments – which is what travel is all about.
- ‘Be My Guest’ hosts own or operate their experiences and eighty-one per cent are family-run with many being multi-generational properties.
- The majority of the ‘Be My Guest’ experiences are outside of major cities, dispersing travel into smaller destinations, and as such, supporting the communities.
- 'Be My Guest' experiences are exclusive to Trafalgar guests; they will not be sharing the experience with the public or independent travellers.
Are your clients interested in journeying on one of Trafalgar’s 2020 ‘Be My Guest’ Italy itineraries?
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*Saving is based on maximum 10% Early Payment Discount. Early Payment Discount is on the land-only portion of selected vacations and can be combined with other brochure discounts where applicable, does not apply to extra nights' accommodation, optional extensions, airfares, flight supplements and surcharges, taxes and fees and airport transfers. A deposit is required on booking and the full amount must be paid by 18 December 2019 or no later than 60 days prior to departure from Canada for land only guided vacations or 90 days prior for guided holidays including train, cruise or internal flight (whichever comes first) to qualify for the 10% Europe and Britain Early Payment Discount. Subject to availability at time of booking and may be withdrawn at any time. Not valid for trips featuring Oberammergau, Costsaver or any other offers. Other conditions apply. Please contact Trafalgar or your Travel Agent for further details. TICO#R50015870
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