Cooking Vacations in Italy: Tuscany & Sicily Culinary & Wine Tours
The CDV Mission & Vision
Our mission is to deliver an extraordinary vacation every time to travelers seeking a casual and authentic experience among friends, in which they can discover and fully embrace the diversity of the culture they are visiting while experiencing the local culture as the locals do. We strive to assure that each of our vacations offers many experiences a traveller could never have achieved on their own, or with a traditional tour company.
We believe that the most enriching form of travel is to help travelers out of their comfort zone and preconceived notions of a place they are visiting. Our vision is to create a world-wide network of vacation offerings that are "vacation-of-a-lifetime" experiences, in which when the vacation ends, each guest has a true sense of belonging new new friends abroad.
The principles of how we deliver on our mission & vision with every vacation
We Ask Ourselves ONE Question:
Whenever we choose a new location or develop a new itinerary, the result is based on the answer to one simple question:
If this is our hometown, and close friends and family were coming to visit us here, Where would we go? What would we do there, to whom would we introduce them, and what would we eat?
The answer to that simple question is what makes our vacations so incredibly unique.
We design all of our vacations with the goal that our guests will have experienced the true culture of the country they are visiting, without sacrificing comfort and security. We always plan for rich cultural experiences that always compliment sightseeing. We pay special attention to food, always striving for the best each destination has to offer, and always striving to true farm-to-table meals. We carefully balance sights, travel time and rest time to assure the best possible experience, and never sacrifice quality of experience for cost. On nearly every vacations, everything we offer is included in our base price, so our guests are never pressured into optional tours or activities.
Most of our vacations offer cooking classes that are done in a hands-on, 'cook together' fashion, rather than demonstration. We make cooking a major part of many of our vacations because we believe that cooking together is a truly bonding experience, and getting to know local culinary customs is an important part of truly appreciating the culture itself.
No Surprise "Options" or "Shop Steering."
Nearly every tour company in the world keeps its prices low when you book the tour, but goes on to make their real profit once you are with them. This is done by offering costly surprise options in order to get the full experience. Worse yet, they steer you into tourist trap shopping experiences, in which they make huge commissions on your purchases. They even steer you to restaurants where they get a percentage of what you spend. By the end of your tour, the company often made more money through options, shop steering and other commissions than they did on the tour price itself.
We think of this as a bait and switch technique, and all of these practices are strictly forbidden in our company. Our mission and vision is clearly all about seeing our guests as visiting friends and relatives. We cannot imagine telling our dear friend we will charge them to take them on an excursion while they are visiting us, or taking our favorite cousin to a store in which we get a sizable commission on anything they purchase. So not only are these practices that we do not do, but they are things we simply cannot do as a part of who we are. In fact, in many cases where we know a store offers a commission to tour companies, we just ask them to apply it as a discount for our guests.
Our unwillingness to participate in these profit points also has a side benefit for our guests. If you ask one of our hosts which wine they prefer, or which store has the best leather... whatever it may be, we have absolutely no incentive to steer you into a direction contrary to your benefit. We represent your interests, not a vendor's.
We treat each and every guest as though they are a close friend or dear relative visiting us. We engage them in the culture of the country we are hosting them in. We help them fully embrace all that makes the culture special. We connect with them, we laugh with them, and we strive to make every moment filled with fun. We take care of their individual needs at every opportunity. We represent their interests, above all others, at every opportunity to assure the best experience and fairest dealings at every step of the way while we are their hosts, and even before and after!
Our staff are hosts, and know that they are to always hold our guests interests above those of our vendors and others. As mentioned earlier, this means that they cannot create diversions for personal profit or give preferential treatment to a vendor that offers them a commission. This is an almost unheard of policy in the tour business, but it is key to what makes our vacations such an amazing experience. Our staff are always professional experts at whatever service they provide. They are held to an elevated standard of excellence compared to the industry average. Our hosts are there to be on vacation with guests, not just to lead the groups. Our chefs are there to cook with guests, not just to instruct. Their primary duty is to have fun, because we know that when our staff are enjoying the vacation, our guests are too.
We have many partners that we work with, from wineries to olive mills. From factories to restaurants. We very carefully select them for a balance of honesty, service, authentic experience, and fairness. For example, we will partner with a small local winery that charges the same price (or lower) to our guests as they do local farmers. We will partner with a restaurant that consistently delivers the same quality food to our guests as they do the local population. In cases where this is not possible, we will always inform our guests so that they are fully aware of the dynamic that exists with a specific place of business or shopping area.
A Successful Vacation
Every vacation should end with hugs, tears, and promises to stay in touch. Our ultimate goal is to leave each of our guests having had the best vacation of their life with plans for us to stay in touch and meet again!
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