We all have that one person in our lives that spent a year studying abroad in a small corner of Europe and came back with an armful of ‘you should have been there’ stories that internally made us seethe with jealousy. Now, it’s their turn to become the green-eyed monster. These days, holidays are so much more than simply lounging on the beach or visiting local landmarks just for the sake of a few likes on Instagram.
It’s all about enriching getaways, getting a feel for new cultures and learning things that you wouldn’t necessarily learn at home. Kenwood Travel are firm believers in the art of escape, using travel experiences and the sheer beauty of the world to enhance the fulfilment of life in the best way possible. So, no more sitting at your computer attempting to replicate the foreign words repeated by Rosetta Stone. Gone are the days practising Buzzfeed Tasty recipe videos in a desperate endeavour to try something different. Relinquish yourself from the chains of your comfort zone, go out into the big wide world and tick that new life skill off your bucket list that you’ve been putting off for years – because there are certain things that you can only learn on holiday.
It’s easy to feel intimidated when it comes to wine. When presented with a new bottle in a restaurant, most of us simply have a sniff, a swirl and mumble the words “fruity” or “dry” before giving the nod of approval without actually being sure if it’s the vino we’ll enjoy. But, wouldn’t it be fantastic to actually know what you’re talking about when it comes to ordering and drinking your favourite tipple? Instead of grabbing the bottle that’s on special offer from the local supermarket, visit the likes of France, Croatia, New Zealand and South Africa for the opportunity to learn on holiday a lesson in wine-tasting that you won’t forget – well, I suppose that depends on how much wine you drink.
Napa Valley in California, aside from being beautifully sunny and breathtakingly gorgeous, is one of the best destinations to immerse yourself in authentic vineyards and discover what makes a glass of wine so special. Plenty of vineyards in Napa offer tours which are often followed by a wine tasting session to sample some of the best liquid grape, as well as learn all about the process and the ingredients in each taster. After all, the best way to learn about wine is to drink more of it! Napa Valley is located to the north of San Francisco so for the best of both worlds, we recommend a stay at The Fairmont for a feel of the city followed by a taste of the countryside.
Cape Town in South Africa is also legendary for its picturesque valleys, particularly the Cape Winelands, that are home to the most highly-regarded South African wines in the world. There are, of course, numerous wine-related activities to choose from, but the food and wine pairing tour is utterly unmissable, an experience that will certainly come in handy when it comes to placing a restaurant order back home, going way beyond red wine with steak and white wine with fish. The expansive Winelands host many different regions scattered with luxurious hotels that are the ideal base for your wine-filled adventures including Mont Rochelle Hotel & Mountain Vineyards. This spectacular property has its very own vineyards that produce the highest quality of wines in the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, and no matter if you’re in the mood for a crisp white or a full-bodied red, bringing home a few bottles of Mont Rochelle to show off at your next dinner party is a must.
Don’t forget, many luxury hotels around the world have an on-site sommelier to guide you through the local wines. If you’re really into your vinos then hunt for hotels with a well-stocked wine cellar, such as Baros in the Maldives, Eagles Villas in Halkidiki and Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort in Mauritius.
A New Language
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to spend years in another country to pick up the local language. Put it this way though, you’ll learn it much faster in the native environment than you would anywhere else. Making an effort to speak the local language in any destination is a sure-fire way to earn brownie points among the native speakers. Yes, even if you’re doing a terrible job. It’ll encourage locals to helpfully correct you and even teach you new things because every minute of interaction counts as an opportunity to learn on holiday and improve. No matter if you are starting completely from scratch, you remember little bits of your GCSE language skills or you consider yourself somewhat of a bilingual speaker, there’s still so much more to learn when it comes to the native tongue in other countries. Especially when pointing, nodding and smiling isn’t as efficient at breaking down the language barrier as you hope.
Fancy taking on the ultimate language challenge? Mandarin, otherwise known as the hardest language in the world to learn for non-speakers, is widely spoken in multiple Chinese regions, but picking up the basics is easier than you think. Mandarin has overlaps with Cantonese, Thai and Simplified Chinese and I picked up small bits of all four during my recent trip to Hong Kong. On my very first day in the city-island, I jumped in my cab from my hotel, Harbour Grand Hong Kong, where the overly-friendly driver was eager to teach me some common phrases including the giggle-inducing “delay no more” (look up the meaning and you’ll understand the sniggers surrounding the phrase) and a bunch of other words and expressions that would make me a Hong Kong native in no time.
Failing a trip to the Far East, France, Italy, Spain or Germany are fantastic places to start as they’re only a short plane journey from the UK and the languages all have similar tendencies to one another, as well as similarities to English.
It’s no secret that holiday food has the ability to make or break an experience. One bad meal abroad and you’ll be spreading rumours to all your friends to steer clear of that particular destination.
Although part of the beauty of being on holiday is being waited on hand and foot in a spectacular restaurant, in recent years there has been an increase in demand for learning the tricks of the trade; being taught how to make local dishes from both seasoned professionals and native residents. There will be no going back to the local Chinese takeaway after the opportunity to learn on holiday how to recreate authentic meals at home, especially visiting locations in the Far East that are well-known for their delicious use of flavour, spice and traditional cooking techniques.
No one can ignore the staggering upsurge of street food; something that was once deemed unsophisticated is now one of the best ways to taste the best of a country’s culinary offerings. Let’s kick off with Bangkok because, let’s face it, there are few things in life that are better than a large helping of pad Thai. Street food in the Thailand capital is cheap, convenient and mouth-wateringly tasty, usually found on every corner and scattered throughout local markets but one of the best things about it, is that it is usually prepared right in front of your very eyes. Witness the lightening-quick flair of the cooking utensils, watch the ingredients come to life and enjoy the food-coma-inducing aromas that fill the city air. While you may not be able to replicate the exact recipe back at home from simply watching the preparations at a street food stall, it’s a good place to start.
A stay at Banyan Tree Bangkok certainly doesn’t hurt either. Home to the world-famous Vertigo restaurant where guests can tuck into tender seafood and succulent steak in an open-air setting on the 61st floor overlooking the vibrant city, a meal here is one that I’m certain you’ll never forget. In addition to this heavenly culinary experience, Banyan Tree Bangkok offers Thai cooking classes, a chance to create an authentic Thai dish under the supervision of the hotel’s expert chef. For other gastronomic teaching opportunities head to True Blue Bay Boutique Resort in Grenada to learn “secret” recipes, CuisinArt Resort & Spa in Anguilla for some one-on-one time with the head chef, or Kanuhura in the Maldives where authentic Maldivian dishes are waiting to be prepared. Cooking classes are the perfect opportunity to learn on holiday so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in – bon appétit!
Ever wondered how to spot the difference between a Monet and a Manet? Brush up – pun intended – on your art skills with a visit to Art Basel, a three-city exhibition extravaganza that takes place in Hong Kong, Miami and, of course, Basel. Providing a platform for galleries to show and sell their work to potential buyers, Art Basel is also visited year-on-year by international art enthusiasts, students and spectators. The art fair, especially when it makes its rounds in Miami, will have you bumping into all sorts of people from the celebrity scene who are eager to get ahead of the curve and scout out the new artistic trends and approaches. But, in between desperately trying to sneak a selfie of the Kardashian-Jenner clan (photography counts as art, right?), focus your attention on the art displays because I promise they’ll truly take your breath away. Art Basel, combined with a stay at The Setai, puts you in the heart of the action for the most artistic Miami experience ever that you can only learn on holiday.
The fair in Hong Kong is also one that shouldn’t be missed because along with the city’s Art Basel, the HKWALLS street art festival goes so much further than murals of messy graffiti and taglines that you spot in obscure places on your morning commute. There’s something about the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong that somehow stands still when you’re admiring a piece of artwork during the festival, and wandering through the city is almost a guarantee to witness a street artist creating a vibrant mural right there and then.
Those with a passion for the ever-evolving art scene truly shouldn’t miss out on admiring paintings up close and personal, and travelling to the art museum capitals of the world is the only way to do so. From the Louvre Paris to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the world is full of spectacular artistic works that have to be seen to be believed. Amsterdam is far from a blank canvas when it comes to both traditional and commercial art galleries; here you can expect to find the Van Gogh Museum which hosts a permanent exhibition of the namesake’s works, the CoBrA Museum of Modern Art, Rijksmuseum and several others.
Culture and Sightseeing
In an age where understanding and appreciating other cultures is more imperative than ever, gone are the days where holidays are limited to the hotel spa and soaking up the rays on the beach. So, stop scrolling through Instagram and double-tapping those filtered images of the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Statue of Liberty – go and see them in the flesh. The rich culture behind historical landmarks can only ever be understood by putting on your walking shoes, booking yourself on to a tour and gaining an experience that you’re guaranteed to remember forever. Here’s a tip: most major cities, especially in Europe, offer a free walking tour that showcases the highlights of the destination, often meeting at a central point and lasting a couple of hours on foot. Don’t be afraid to be a bit of a teacher’s pet by hanging on to your tour guide’s every word, ask for restaurant recommendations as you make your way through the city and inquire about everyday life as a local.
Destinations such as Barcelona are perfect for a culture fix – think authentic flamenco dances that you can only learn on holiday, the plethora of Gaudi buildings and, of course, the delicious tapas. Hotel Arts Barcelona is definitely the ideal setting to live out your Spanish fantasies. With the stunning décor, the brilliant location that’s quiet but not too far from the action, and two Michelin star restaurants, this design-forward hotel captures the beauty of Barcelona in the best way possible.