Five Getaways with Local Food Festivals that are Worth the Trip

Posted June 12, 2018 4:20 p.m. EDT

Some hotels try to create buzz by opening restaurants with high-profile chefs. Lately, however, a growing number of properties want to offer more and are throwing entire food festivals instead.

Michael Heflin, senior vice president for the hotel division of Travel Leaders Group, thinks that hotels are getting into the festival business because they want to offer guests, as well as the local community, special culinary experiences.

“A food festival, especially one with well-known chefs, helps a hotel distinguish itself from other properties,” he said. “It also brings in business from locals and entices travelers to stay at the property when the festival is happening.”

In April, for example, the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosted Nirvana, a food and wine festival with notable chefs such as Scott Conant, Todd English and Stephanie Izard, and also highlighted the talent of regional chefs.

Here are a few more to look forward to.

The Hotel Regina Isabella in Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples, has an annual food festival celebrating the local food and wines of that region and other parts of Italy. The dates for this year are Nov. 1-4.

In St. Lucia, the Anse Chastanet resort has three food festivals planned. In June, the resort turns into a mango lover’s paradise. During its Mango Madness Festival, guests experience interactive classes on cooking and mixology, a five-course mango-themed dinner and many other opportunities to taste the exotic flavors of different mango varieties.

October is all about spices. The resort’s culinary team offers a special five-course menu for the event featuring local spices and an interactive beach tandoori cooking class.

During the Discover Chocolate Festival in December, guests get the true “bean to bar” experience, starting with a tour of Emerald Farm, where more than 2,000 cocoa trees are carefully tended.

In Hawaii, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai will host a Chef Fest, with dinners, interactive cooking classes and tastings from prolific chefs like Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, in Portland, Oregon, and New York; and Michael Cimarusti of Providence in Los Angeles. The festival is Sept. 17-20.

In Georgia, Southern Grown food festival at the Sea Island resort is held over Labor Day. The event celebrates Southern cuisine and local music through dinners, concerts, cooking demonstrations and a marketplace. Though this year’s lineup is still in the works, last year’s event included the James Beard Award winner Mike Lata, of FIG Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, and Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins.

Though the hotel food festival trend is recent, a handful have been around for several years: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, will host its 11th annual Savor Borgata in early November. The event is known for its roster of celebrity chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian.