New Zealand Epicurean Extravaganza, October 2014

The exterior of the County Hotel - our dream boutique hotel in Hawke's Bay.  They've agreed to dedicate all their rooms exclusively to us.
The exterior of the County Hotel – our dream boutique hotel in Hawke’s Bay. They’ve agreed to dedicate all their rooms exclusively to us.

Last week we provided you with the first sneak preview of our most ambitious tour ever – a visit to New Zealand in October/November 2014, and themed around their Food and Wine Classic Festival in Hawke’s Bay, with some additional experiences before and after the festival itself.

Planning is progressing, and excitement is building among readers, with a waiting list of people eager to join the tour as soon as it is formally announced.

This week we can tell you a bit more about this tour.

Firstly, the key event is of course participating in next year’s Food And Wine Classic (FAWC for short – careful how you pronounce it!).  Many people have asked exactly what FAWC is – a very fair question.

It is a series of food and/or wine themed events, held over two weekends and the week between at the end of October – with the freshness of NZ’s spring in full bloom.  On the weekends, there are multiple different events on offer during the day and evening, giving you a rich range of experiences to choose between.

We will be present for the first weekend, arriving on Thursday (the day before its official opening on Friday) and leaving on Monday (and we have an optional extension to take us back for the second weekend, too).

We don’t know exactly what will be offered next year, but it will be similar to the schedule for this year.  So please go have a look at the dazzling list of great experiences being offered this year.  This year’s dates (Friday 1, Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 November) will equate to next years dates of 31 Oct, 1 and 2 November.

If you like the sound of these events, our Epicurean Extravaganza is a must-do.

It sure looks like a deluxe suite, but this is merely one of the 13 standard rooms at our exclusive hotel in Napier.
It sure looks like a deluxe suite, but this is merely one of the 13 standard rooms at our exclusive hotel in Napier.

Now, for a really exciting development.  With the help of one of the most influential winemakers in Hawke’s Bay (and a former chum of mine from when we were both at high school together) we’ve managed to persuade the best boutique hotel in all of Hawke’s Bay to block out their entire hotel for our group’s exclusive stay during the four days and nights we’ll be there.

Usually hotels are loathe to do this, because they invariably have ‘regulars’ who they feel obliged to take care of, and possibly long-staying guests staying before or after the blocked out period too, and so on.  But in this case, with a bit of ‘Travel Insider’ influence, we’ve managed to get the whole hotel for ourselves – all 13 luxury rooms, four spa rooms, and one totally luxurious Vice Regal suite.

The small family owned hotel’s already friendly atmosphere will now seem like our private club rather than a dispassionate aloof hotel.

This is the County Hotel in Napier, with a brilliant location and a welcoming warm feel to it, in a rare Edwardian style building (one of the extremely few that survived its 1931 earthquake).  Please have a look at its website and pictures to see how lovely this hotel is – our private headquarters for our time in Hawke’s Bay.

This does clearly place a very hard limit on the total number of people who can come with us, especially after allowing for a number of people traveling as singles but still requiring a room of their own.

We continue to anticipate the main tour price will be in the order of $3000, and if you’d like to be on the priority list to be informed of when the tour is ready to be booked, please do let me know.

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