Connecting with Culture

When attending travel trade shows and seminars, it's common to hear about the new demand for "authenticity" and "experiential" travel. Many clients find their trips incomplete if they fail to connect with a destination's culture. Agents now have plenty of options for add-ons and cultural hotel packages that may make their client's Latin America sojourn even more memorable. The Hilton Buenos Aires is offering a tango package through the end of the year that includes a lesson and tickets to  both a performance and a tango museum

Hilton Buenos Aires is capitalizing on the increased interest that dancing has received thanks to the TV show Dancing With the Stars. Starting at $245 per night double, the hotel's Totally Tango package includes deluxe accommodations, transportation, daily buffet breakfast for two at Hilton Buenos Aires' El Faro Restaurant, one tango lesson for two at the International Academy of Dance & Arts taught by award-winning dancer Carlos Copello, two tickets to a dinner-show at Esquina Carlos Gardel, two tickets to the World Tango Museum and access to the Hilton Health Club Fitness & Spa. The rate for the Totally Tango Package with Corner Suite accommodation is $845 per suite, per night, taxes not included. Clients will stay in the hotel's recently renovated corner suites. The suites, located on floors four through seven, have two rooms, a home theater with two plasma TVs and a DVD player, a separate work area with fax and high-speed Internet connections, panoramic views of the city and complimentary access to the Executive Floor lounge. The hotel's Totally Tango package is available through December 31. For more information, agents can e-mail reservations.buenosaires@hilton.com or call 5411-4891-0101.

Many tour participants will tell you that they wished they had more time for shopping. Tour operator Continental Journeys meets that need head on with their new eight-day culinary and shopping tour of Peru by private car. The tour combines Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu and the SacredUrubambaValley. Departures are daily through December 31. In addition to sightseeing and dining at some of Peru's finest restaurants, tour participants will have the opportunity to shop for Peruvian crafts, tour workshops and boutiques; visit the CuzcoCenter for Traditional Textiles and shop at upscale shops in Lima specializing in decorative arts, home accessories, alpaca garments, and gold and silver jewelry. The seven-night tour is priced $2,219 per person double in first-class, $2,559 in deluxe and $3,369 in superior deluxe hotels. Continental Journeys can also arrange roundtrip air between from the U.S to Lima. Visit www.continentaljourneys.com.

Chile's ideal climate for cultivating vines of French ancestry has led to many awards for the country's wines. The programs below are extensions that can easily be booked to add a wine dimension to a client's visit to Chile.

The Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza in Colchagua, Chile, accommodations on Avanti's tour

Abercrombie & Kent gives their clients the option to extend their travels with add-on itineraries that can be modified to create a customized itinerary. A&K's two-night Chilean Wine Country Extension begins with a scenic drive from Santiago to the ColchaguaValley to sample wines at several of Chile's prestigious vineyards. The first stop is the Casa Silva winery, the oldest and most traditional in the valley. Clients continue on to the Viu Manent vineyard for a visit and tasting prior to an al fresco lunch. On day two they'll experience huaso (Chilean cowboy) culture and visit the Museum of Colchagua to view displays of paleontology, archaeology and pre-Hispanic art. They'll also visit Espiritus de Colchagua, a family-run, small scale producer of organic liqueurs made from local ingredients.

They'll then move on to Viña Montes and participate in a private, professional wine tasting adapted to individual participants' requests. Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Santa Cruz before transferring back to Santiago. Two nights of accommodations will be in the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza. Price per person double starts at $1,825. For the most current prices and departures, call 800-554-7016 or visit www.abercrombieandkent.com.

Avanti Destinations is offering the "Vineyards of the ThreeFertileValleys," a two-night Chile extension from Santiago. The tour departs daily Sunday through Thursday.

The three wine producing valleys of Cachapoal, Colchagua and Curico are a few hours' drive south of Santiago. The program gives clients a chance to spend one day in each valley, visiting wine cellars, participating in wine tastings, visiting museums and dining in Colonial restaurants. Accommodations are in the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza in Cachapoal. On day three, participants transfer to their selected hotel in Santiago. The package includes roundtrip transfers from Santiago, two nights in Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, three days of winery tours and tastings, two breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners. The price starts at $1,197 per person double. Visit www.avantidestinations.com.