It started with a sip of limoncello and a healthy serving of Mamma’s pasta al Pomodoro shared with the Esposito sisters at their lemon farm in Sorrento, Italy. Now, a decade on, the stories shared and bonds formed during our Be My Guest experiences have become the highlight of our trips worldwide.
In 2009, we took guests on the first Be My Guest experience and revolutionised the way the world thinks of group travel, giving travellers inside access to places they would otherwise not experience and facilitating profound human connections through exploring their way of life and the most international of rituals: sharing a meal. Around this same time, our JoinTrafalgar programme was also born, with a mission to make travel a force for good by helping people, preserving places and wildlife, and caring for the planet. Immediately, we realised that we can combine our passion for making a difference with our goal of facilitating meaningful cultural exchange between our guests and the local communities they visit.
Here’s a look at how our joint Be My Guest/JoinTrafalgar experiences are taking guests off the typical tourist routes and into the homes and local, family-run businesses that breathe life into each destination. And learn how each memorable encounter helps ensure the livelihoods and cultural heritage of the hosts that open both their hearts and homes to our guests.
1. Villa Leccio, Strada, Italy
How you connect: For nine generations, the Landi family has lived in Tuscany, calling Villa Leccio home since the 18th century. Learn from host Giada Landi how the family keeps tradition alive through the production of their heavenly chiantis and extra-virgin olive oils, as she prepares your Be My Guest Tuscan meal in the onsite kitchen made with ingredients fresh from her garden.
How you make a difference: Your visit helps preserve the heritage of local wine and olive oil production and the restoration and preservation of this historic villa and family home.
2. Langmorn Station, Australia
How you connect: Australia’s cattle-country pioneers and their rich history take centre stage on this exclusive Be My Guest experience. Guests will step back in time and enjoy true country hospitality in a picturesque setting. Langmorn Station is a fully operational, family-run brahman cattle station and home to the Creed family, who have owned the property since 1869. Guests will Connect with Locals and take a guided tour of the property, including the original ‘Queenslander-style’ family homestead, built in 1873.
How you make a difference: This Trafalgar visit will Make a Difference to the Creed family’s efforts to maintain the old family homestead and their cattle-rearing traditions.
3. The Groves on 41, California, USA
How you connect: Join Karen Tallent, one half of the mother/daughter team behind The Groves on 41’s award-winning olive oils, on a sensory tour of the grove, complete with olive oil tasting. Then, hear how she got her start in the booming California olive industry during an al fresco Be My Guest lunch in the Cali sunshine.
How you make a difference: Your visit supports this family-owned, female-run enterprise.
4. O’o Farm, Hawaii, USA
How you connect: With the lush tropical forests and pristine white beaches of Maui as a backdrop, you’ll visit the O’o Farm and experience some of the best farm-to-table cuisine Hawaii has to offer. Maui local Ancil will take you to gather fresh produce before joining you for a memorable Be My Guest lunch, island-style, and explain how the bounty from this farm supplies local ingredients to some of the best upscale restaurants on the island.
How you make a difference: Your visit helps ensure the longevity of not only O’o Farm, but the local farm-to-table culture, fighting the trend of deportation that previously saw much of the local produce exported.
5. Isola Tiberna, Rome, Italy
How you connect: Cross Rome’s oldest original bridge and be welcomed into the apartment of Fabio and his family on the Isola Tiberna, the world’s smallest inhabited island. You’ll learn the role this island has played in the historical drama that is Rome’s cultural legacy during a delicious Be My Guest dinner.
How you make a difference: Your visit helps fund the excavation and preservation of the ancient Roman ruins resting in the building’s basement as well as the maintenance of the home itself, a historical landmark.
6. Demircidere Village Visit, Demircidere, Turkey
How you connect: Demircidere, home of Turkey’s first female muhtar in 1933, has been breaking barriers and acknowledging the power of women for almost a century. In this small mountain village, one of the most progressive in the country, you’ll see first-hand how locals have created a community based on gender equality, as they teach you their traditional technique for bread-making, share with you a glass of the local wine and join you for a simple yet delectable Be My Guest meal.
How you make a difference: Your visit supports the community’s local wine, olive and raisin production, and fosters equal rights for the women of Turkey.
7. Basillippo Estate, Seville, Spain
How you connect: Journey to the Andalusian countryside estate of the Morillo family for a mouth-watering Be My Guest dinner featuring their internationally acclaimed Basillippo olive oil. Sip sangria in their sun-soaked courtyard as they recount the over 150 years of family history encapsulated in this Southern Spanish paradise.
How you make a difference: Your visit helps this family-run business keep centuries-old olive oil producing techniques alive, including running day courses for local schools to preserve this time-honoured Spanish tradition.