Interview: Christine Upton on Be My Guest experiences - Real Word

If you think food tastes better when it’s shared with people who have a story to tell, you might like to hear about our Be My Guest experiences.

With Be My Guest, you’re invited into the homes or sometimes independently-run businesses of locals all over the world. You’ll try everything from home-made food to home-grown wines, and enjoy a deeper understanding of their lives and local culture through good conversation.

In this week’s post we catch up with Christine Upton, who sources our Be My Guest experiences in Europe, to hear what goes on behind the scenes.

You'll dine with local people in their homes on our Be My Guest experiences

You’ll dine with local people in their homes on our Be My Guest experiences

What are Be My Guest experiences in your own words?

Be My Guest experiences are a way for Trafalgar guests get to know the real people of a destination. Guests are invited into the homes of ordinary local people, giving them a personal insight into how they live in a truly intimate setting.

I really think these experiences help to satisfy people’s curiosities of the local culture in towns or villages. If a house has ever caught your eye during your travels and you’ve wondered “Who lives there?” “What’s it like inside?” or “How do they live?” then you’ll enjoy Be My Guest.

Be My Guest experiences are exclusive to Trafalgar – what makes them special?

The people who welcome our guests into their homes or places of work don’t do this as a business; they do it because they enjoy it.

For example, the owners of Blackmore Farm make a living from their dairy farm and Bed & Breakfast. But they also love entertaining Trafalgar guests in their manor house and serving them hearty, home-cooked food that’s typical of the area. They’re real characters and are passionate about being great hosts.

Lemon meringue roulade - served at Blackmore Farm

Lemon meringue roulade – served at Blackmore Farm

Do you have criteria when you’re searching for new Be My Guest experiences?

I have flexible criteria when I’m seeking new Be My Guest hosts and properties. If I find a place that guests would love but doesn’t necessarily fit in with an existing trip, we’ll work the itinerary around the experience.

Many of the Be My Guest hosts are people I’ve met on my various travels, and who I’ve thought would be ideal characters to entertain our guests and give them a flavour of local culture.

Is there one Be My Guest experience that’s a consistent hit with our guests? And why?

Our Be My Guest at Castello del Trebbio in Tuscany is a particular favourite with our guests. The Baj Macario family, who own the property, are dedicated to offering a biodynamic experience, serving food made from ingredients grown on their farm or sourced locally.

While the castle and farm are open to anyone for wine or olive-oil tasting, only Trafalgar guests get to enjoy dinner with the family in the castle itself!

Castello del Trebbio, Italy

Castello del Trebbio, Tuscany, Italy

Are there any new Be My Guest experiences in 2015 that particularly stand out?

There are a couple of new and interesting experiences that we’re running in 2015. The first is a visit to a Welsh vineyard; Wales isn’t renowned for its wine, which is what makes this Be My Guest unique. The family who run the vineyard built their own house and planted the vines themselves, and guests will enjoy lovely home-cooked food and beautiful scenery.

The second experience is a trip to Cantina Nicola winery in Piedmont, a lesser-visited region of Italy. Federico and his welcome our guests into their home to enjoy some delicious home-cooked food, local hospitality, and a glass or two of their wines.

Find out more about our Be My Guest experiences on Trafalgar.com.

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