Company Story

Company Story

Established in 1996, we are an Incoming tour operator, specialists in wine, food, culture, history, art and gourmet travel for discerning voyagers, seeking authenticity at their destinations. We operate only in Spain, Portugal and SW France, which allows us to ensure the highest standards of all the tour elements involved – we only offer our own and well proven itineraries, we do not subcontract other agencies. Gourmand Breaks is “small enough” to provide our clients with a personal and top quality service, at a reasonable price. Every detail is designed to meet the highest level of attention and professional service. We are not a big firm and neither do we wish to be.

Over the years, we have earned a solid reputation among our providers – they all know we are very exigent and only work with those who compromise to follow our high service standards, but at the same time they know that we are extremely well prepared, methodical and reliable and that our clients are delightful to work with! Having non-negotiable service standards means we often look long and hard before we find unsurpassable activities and excellent guides to include in our trips. But the time invested pays off!

Ursula Gierej
I graduated in Spanish Philology and Tourism and obtained my Diploma in English studies in Cambridge, England, where I lived for 2 years. I founded Gourmand Breaks in 1996 with my husband Juan Capdevila, prior to having worked for many years in the tourism industry in Spain - I built my experience as sales manager/public relations at high-end hotels in the Costa Brava and event agencies in the Barcelona area. Juan and I, when we started the agency, owned a renowned restaurant as well, where I most enjoyed putting together our monthly dinners with Catalan sommeliers, local produce experts, chefs and food writers. We became quite well-known in the area for our passion for local gastronomy. One of our companies also introduced, in the Girona area, the exclusive and avant garde Cacao Sampaka chocolates, with some of their revolutionary recipes made by Ferran Adría's brother, Albert. Together we also prepared exclusive sailing trips through our small yacht charter company on the Costa Brava (a perfect excuse to relax onboard). I just love to travel and soak in cosmopolitan environments and cultural melting pots – with Juan we moved around the world a good deal before having our two sons, Albert & Alex. Even now, with the boys onboard, we have crossed the ocean many times to the countries our clients come from, following our travel bug (that runs in the family, now our sons just LOVE to travel too!), enjoying the refreshing differences and understanding better and better the idiosyncrasy of our clients countries.

We want to provide you with the best experiences that we believe in for you to meet true locals and discover the culture, good food and fine wine of everywhere you go.

I feel really fulfilled with Gourmand Breaks. This business gave me the opportunity to convert my passion for travel, culture, good food & wine into a profession I feel very lucky to be able to spend a lot of time on my favorite hobby – travelling around Spain, Portugal and SW France and tracking down those special places and people that make our tours so unique - hotels, chefs, wineries, guides and local specialists, artisan producers, restaurants etc. I’m always on the move, looking for unique experiences for our clients. I enjoy our wide network of contacts in the exciting gourmet world of this part of Europe a lot and it makes me happy to think that we somehow contribute to build wonderful lifetime memories for our clients.

Joanne Wickham
British born, now practically Spanish by adoption, I entered the travel industry over 20 years ago, you may say by accident. A lifelong passion of dance, in all its forms, led me to graduate in Performing Arts, to dance professionally, teach and ultimately travel to Spain as a choreographer. However, with my Granddads words “you can’t dance forever, there’s no money in dancing” in my head, and with my new discovery of Spain, I decided to try tourism for one season.The rest, as they say, is history. Tourism got me hooked and as for Spain … well, who couldn’t resist the good weather?

I owe my confidence and reliability to my dancing background but my wide travel knowledge and people skills come from an amalgamation of my roles in the travel industry: as a Resort Manager for Airtours, Public Relations for a Spanish resort, Hotel Reception and Reservations Manager, Worldwide Airport Transfer Administrator and now as a Senior Travel Consultant at Gourmand Breaks.

As a keen traveller I love to explore the authentic destination, off the tourist trail, to discover its soul and to sample its food and its wine. Customary sightseeing is, of course, always on my agenda as well as a little shopping too!

When I’m not in the office you will usually find me on the sea, on the golf course or on the piste, reading a good book on the beach or cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

I love planning our guests’ itineraries and very much look forward to working with you! We will most likely be talking about your trip quite a bit in advance and when you’re actually here, your tour will be so familiar that I feel like I’m travelling with you too – So, where shall we go?