May 22, 2024

Adventure Awaits Journeyers

Discovering the World Anew

Club Adventure tours join with RI chefs, restaurateurs for trips

4 min read

Food and travel are an intoxicating combination. Imagine how tempting trips planned with local food stars could be on destinations ranging from South Korea to Portugal.

Club Adventures, AAA’s small-group adventure tour operator, has teamed up with Providence and Rhode Island chefs, restaurateurs, and beverage experts to offer curated food tours starting in August and running into next year. The concept is to see the world through a local lens with a guide who knows all the best places to eat and drink.

Of the 13 food and drink trips, some are close to home including New York City and Austin, Texas. Others are to islands including the Azores and Sicily. Mexico, Spain and Germany during Oktoberfest are other destinations. One trip offers a gluten-free and vegan adventure in Italy.

The trips will have an average size of 14 travelers. They range in time from 4 days to 10 days with prices from $1,999 to $7,979.

Freshly baked Bolo Levedos, which Maria Lawton describes as "Portuguese English muffins but made with a sweeter dough," will be one of the tasty treats on her tours to Portugal and the Azores. She took this photo in the Azores on São Miguel Island.

The idea

Bethany Hodge’s 15 years in the travel industry have included designing and operating culturally immersive small group trips. Now, as head of product for Club Adventures, she is launching the new tours.

But it was a conversation with Bethany Caliaro, owner/manager of both Oberlin and Gift Horse in Providence, that planted the seed for the program. Hodge was headed to Mexico with her husband Brian and Caliaro had just returned from a trip there. She shared her list of restaurants, bars and specific dishes for the couple to try.

“I’ve been watching the food and hospitality industry in Rhode Island become a national leader in innovation, community, diversity and sustainability – all values that I use when designing Club Adventures tours,” she said.

The local food tours began with Gift Horse and Oberlin's Bethany Caliaro  suggesting food and drink suggestions for a trip to Mexico.

“Every one of her suggestions elevated our travel experience, and I realized that the insight and guidance of a food professional could really turn a fun trip into a memorable adventure,” said Hodge.

With consumer interest in culinary travel on the rise, Hodge knew tours that showcased these mutual values could be a hit. She first pitched the idea to Caliaro and Jen Davis, who manages the beverage program at The Eddy and Durk’s  Bar-B-Q, both in Providence. They connected Hodge to more of the local culinary community.

Club Adventures tours including one to Austin, Texas to explore the barbecue and distillery scene and one to New York City to enjoy the city's cocktail scene. Both will be led by Jen Davis of Durk’s Bar-B-Q and the Eddy.

“Every single establishment that I spoke with was in,” said Hodge.

Each chef/bartender/business owner has been involved in curating the itinerary, leading to an exclusive experience that can’t be found anywhere else in the market.

“While chef-led tours are certainly being done in the travel space, I believe this is a first to ever showcase a city’s leaders in the culinary space all at once as a unified portfolio,” Hodge said.

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