Whole Foods Market recently launched Whole Journeys, travel ventures that promise food lovers and culture buffs new ways to discover "what travel should taste like."
Whole Journeys' first departures start in April 2013 with trips to a Turkish food festival, an epicurean biking tour in Italy, and a hike following the historic tea and horse caravan road in China. Each itinerary incorporates unique accommodations, local guides (when possible) and visits to native farms, wineries and cheese makers.
"Travelers walk, hike or bike through as they explore the foods, farms and events that make a region unique," Whole Foods said in a statement. "Whole levels of exertion and food experiences vary, all itineraries are designed to support local communities, respect the environment and encourage travelers to share each destination's unique food cultures with one another and the food producers themselves."
Itineraries run from five days to two weeks. Competitively priced with other adventure travel tours at $3,000 to $4,500 each, trips accommodate up to 16 guests. Travelers book their own airfare but guides, visits, hotels and most meals are included. More trips are being planned in the U.S. and South America in the future.
"We're all about authentic experiences and rich cultural connections," said Kathy Dragon, executive director of Whole Journeys and a 20-year veteran of the adventure/experiential travel industry. "I encourage guests to open themselves to the culture in each destination, and share their own perspective with the people there. When the trip is over, everyone comes away with a wider worldview and, hopefully, a deeper appreciation for global diversity and food culture and traditions."
Whole Foods appears to be the first grocer to offer such adventure tours. REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Orvis, Bass Pro and Cabela's offer tours in the outdoor retail space. Dick's Sporting Goods recently partnered with several key vendors in introducing "Adventures of a Lifetime" travel packages.
What's the likelihood that other grocers will launch adventure travel tours similar to that of Whole Foods?