WHY BOOK WITH US?
Why is it better to book through you than to just do it myself?
There are so many reasons:
– We are a tour operator and travel planner designing custom-built itineraries for our clients exclusively in Spain, Portugal and SW France.
– We’re based on the Iberian Peninsula so have first-hand access and knowledge of what you’re going to see and who you’re going to meet.
– You’ll be taking advantage of our over 20 years experience in the industry.
– You’ll receive our fantastic customer service throughout and 24/7 in-country assistance should you need us while on tour.
– We work hard to discover special places, 1st class service, top notch accommodation, interesting visits, excellent guides and great chauffeurs. All our service providers have been hand selected for their originality, uniqueness and certain “je ne sais quoi”
– We’ll tailor your itinerary to suit your preferences and right from the start we’ll take the planning stress off your shoulders.
Why don’t you sell more destinations?
We like to be the best at what we do so instead of adding countries, we are constantly looking for new experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in our current destinations. We believe in quality over quantity and make it our business to know our countries better than anyone else.
Can I combine countries?
Yes most definitely, in fact, that is what most of our clients do! As long as you give us two weeks (or more ☺) of your time, we’ll prepare a perfect two or three country itinerary, be it Spain & Portugal, Spain & France or Spain, Portugal & France – this last one ideal for a three week time frame.
What do you offer?
We offer custom built private tour itineraries for clients looking for quality cultural, wine and food tours in Spain, Portugal and/or SW France. Our services begin from the moment we receive your first contact until the end of your trip and sometimes beyond. We have many sample itineraries published on our website to give you some ideas, but all of them can easily be modified to suit your wishes. We carefully listen to what you want and, using our insight, we will work with you to achieve your ideal personal and private tour itinerary. We take care of all the arrangements to make your tour with us easy and worry free. Our emphasis and expertise lies in offering complete itineraries in their entirety to include accommodation, transportation, private cultural visits with our officially licensed guides, winery tours, cooking classes and lot’s more …. All you have to do is purchase your arrival and departure flights and we’ll do all the rest! Here’s How We Do It.
Can you help me with my flights?
As an incoming ground tour operator, our services begin when you arrive at your first Gourmand Breaks tour destination. Our tours are “land only”, which means that your flight arrangements are not made by us. We are always on hand to recommend which airport to arrive and depart from, as well as provide flight information for you. However, we do not sell airline tickets, as normally our clients prefer to book their own international flights, in many cases using miles or special offers easily available on the internet. Also, in this way, you are free to choose your own flight class preference. Remember where ever you arrive to, in Spain, Portugal or SW France, our chauffeur will be waiting at the airport with a luxury vehicle to whisk you away to your hotel.
What transport options do you offer?
As we are a ground tour operator we arrange all your land transportation – chauffeurs, train travel and rental cars. Our chauffeured transportation is most usually Mercedes but while brands vary from country to country, we always provide the best vehicles in each region: safe, comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. We include tickets for the high speed or normal train on a first class basis for long journeys. Our car rentals are for premium vehicles equipped with automatic transmission and a navigation system.
MORE ABOUT OUR TOURS
Do you offer scheduled or private tours?
All of our tours are on a private basis only, just for you and your travel companion/s. We do not offer scheduled tours with fixed starting dates for mixed groups of guests who do not know each other.
What are the benefits of private travel vs. a group tour?
The advantages of a private tour are clear; you will not have to worry about having to rush along in order to stay with a group and are at leisure to spend your time as you wish. By having your own private guide and/or chauffeur, you have their full attention and one on one contact – this personal dedication makes a dramatic difference in your experience and the quality of your tour. Your guide and chauffeur are entirely at your disposal, so if you feel like staying longer at a particular place, they will do their best to adjust your itinerary at the spur of the moment. As a Gourmand Breaks guest, you will enjoy your very own Personal Travel Website prior to your tour, with all your tour details plus our suggestions for your free time, restaurant recommendations and all the relevant links to places of interest. Upon arrival, you will also receive your Personal Travel Journals, a pretty booklet version of your Personal Travel Website. Needless to say, we are always at your disposal to assist with any additional recommendations and bookings – restaurants, tickets for events etc. and generally make sure that everything runs smoothly and you are taken care of personally.
What if I’m not looking for luxury 5* all the way, but still want an authentic experience designed just for me?
You’re in the right place! All we do here are private and custom designed tours and we do cover a wide range of accommodations and transport means. Every Cultural, Food and Wine trip that we build is designed with each specific party in mind and adjusted to their requirements. We’ll build your private tour just for you with your preferences of destinations, level of accommodations and type of transport, pace and experiences, as well as your budget guidelines.
Do you have any allegiances to specific hotel chains?
Not at all! We have carefully handpicked all our hotels for having their own individual character and our guests will experience unique styles throughout. All the hotels that we use, we use often, for their great location, top class service and uniqueness.
Can your sample itineraries be adapted?
They most certainly can! Our sample itineraries, although perfectly “ready to wear”, are provided mainly to give examples of what we can offer. You can either book the itinerary exactly as it appears, modify it accordingly to suit your preferences or we can start from scratch and custom-build a new tour altogether.
Which day can I start my tour?
As your tour is exclusively private to you, your tour dates are entirely up to you too. You can start on whichever day you choose and obviously this will depend on your flight schedule.
Is it possible to have touring that focuses on our specific interests?
Most definitely! As all our tours are private they can be 100% custom-designed to suit your style and specific interests. Whether you’re interested in food, wine, art, architecture, history, Jewish heritage, local traditions, active leisure, medieval villages, photographic spots, cooking classes, shopping, etc., we will craft an itinerary just for you. Take a look at our “Experiences” section for special-interest travel ideas, but if what you’re looking for isn’t there just drop us a line and we’ll go from there.
Why have I never heard of you?
We don’t spend money on publicity and promotional articles in travel magazines; we prefer to invest our time and resources into putting together picture perfect itineraries for our clients, who then happily repeat and/or recommend us to their family, friends and colleagues. We believe that, in the long run, our best marketing tool is a tour done right. We are very proud of the feedback we receive from our clients. Have a look here at What They Say
What is a “typical” Gourmand Breaks client?
There is no typical Gourmand Breaks client. We welcome all ages, races and religious backgrounds, couples, honeymooners, groups of friends, food and wine clubs, guests celebrating anniversaries and special occasions, multi-generational family trips…. Our clients’ interests are diverse – history and culture, active leisure, wine, gastronomy, romance, nature, relaxation– or a combination of all. Our clients come from all over the world but mostly from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Our website and documents are in English, and all our private guides are multi-lingual.
Our Wine Club, Restaurant, or Alumni group may want to do a tour of Spain, Portugal, France or Italy. Can you help?
Absolutely! We will happily build your itinerary according to your interests and what you would like to experience, learn and discover. Please contact us with your specific interests and ideas and we will be delighted to build a special itinerary for your group.
Do you work with Food Service, Hospitality & Wine Professionals?
Apart from tours and experiences designed for the guest who travels for foodie pleasure, we also work to meet the specific needs of professionals requiring some support related to Spanish, Portuguese and French food & wine. Our professional background, closely tied to the food & wine sector, provides us with profound knowledge of the culinary and wine on offer, as well as a wide network of contacts reaching all corners.
What should I do if I have food allergies, intolerances or dietary restrictions?
If you let us know right from the start we can inform the hotels, guides, tasting venues etc., in every destination on your tour, to make sure everyone is well aware of food allergies, intolerances, or dietary restrictions in advance and can modify your meals and tastings, where necessary.
What is the pace of your tours like?
You tell us the pace you want! During the planning stages we will be listening to you to get an idea of what you like and dislike and what you are looking to experience and how much you want to accomplish on your tour.
Can you help me with a day tour?
We, unfortunately, do not offer day tours. Our emphasis and expertise lies in complete private itineraries that include accommodation, transportation, private cultural visits with our officially licensed guides, winery tours, cooking classes etc. If you are interested in a complete private tour itinerary then we will be delighted to assist you.
We are looking for private shore excursions. Can you do this?
If your cruise is pre and/or post a Gourmand Breaks tour, we will be delighted to assist you with private shore excursions from your ship.
Do you work with professional travel advisors/travel agents?
Yes, we work closely with lots of travel advisors/travel agents from all around the world. If you have an advisor/agent and would prefer to work through them, just tell them to contact us before we start working with you.
MONEY & PAYMENTS
Why don’t you provide pricing for the sample tours on your website?
The sample itineraries published on our website are “ready to wear”, but in order to be able to give you an exact quote, we need to know your party size and approximate dates. Please drop us a line with these details and we will then send you your pricing straight away, without compromise. This initial sample quote will give you an idea of our services and price level. From here, if we are on the same wavelength, we discuss your preferences and custom build your itinerary to suit your desires and budget requirements. Please bear in mind that, as all our tours are private, the final price range can vary widely, depending on each tour inclusions. Here’s How We Do It
Are you expensive?
Everybody has different ideas of monetary value. Obviously, we are not a mass market tour operator selling package holidays! We don’t have rooms on hold in big hotels as many package tour operators do, so you won’t find “last minute getaway offers” here. The cost of your tour will entirely depend on what you are looking for, where you want to go and when and also how you want to travel.
How much do your tours cost?
Every man is an island and this also applies to all our private food, wine and cultural tour itineraries – no two are the same! There are many factors that will determine the price of your tour, a tour that will be carefully designed to suit your wishes: the number of guests in your private group; the level of accommodation; the amount of chauffeur services included (although you may like us to provide you with a rental car and/or high speed train tickets); the amount of privately guided visits and tours and of course, your travel dates. There are many variables in the cost of a trip but we are always happy to modify the details of your itinerary to try to work within your budget if necessary. Please feel free to Contact Us for a non-committal quote of any of the sample itineraries on our website, or alternatively to start building your custom tour.
In which currency do you charge?
We are based in the Euro zone, as are all the companies and people involved in your tour, so our pricing is always in Euros.
What about cost breakdowns?
The cost of your trip is inclusive of accommodation, breakfasts, private touring, ground transportation special experiences, taxes and our services, for which we are unable to breakdown your trip as a list of services. We are, however, happy to revise your itinerary, if you wish to lower the cost or to change anything, in order to meet your budget.
What are your fees?
Our service and administration costs are incorporated into the tour price that we quote you for your trip. We have special confidential prices with hotels, transport companies, guides, and other service providers so we just total them all up, add on a bit of money for our time (and to pay the bills) and we give you one total price.
Do you charge a trip planning fee?
We work on good faith and therefore do not charge a planning fee for your custom-built tour itinerary. You chose to come to us, so we will spend our time, not your money, to get the ball rolling. We respect and are respected by all our clients, past and present, and hope that you, our future client, will respect us and our time, too.
How much and when are the deposits?
To reserve your tour, we require a 40% deposit of the trip total to confirm the services. The outstanding balance is then due within 30 days prior to the tour starting date. If your tour start date is less than 30 days away, payment is due in full.
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa and MasterCard credit card payments on our Secure Online Payment Platform. We also accept bank transfers if required.
What is your cancellation policy?
Please see our Terms and Conditions for our full cancellation policy. If you must cancel for any reason, and it is more than 60 days prior to your tour start date, Gourmand Breaks will refund your deposit less 900 Euros per person for administrative costs. Cancellations made between 31 – 60 days prior to your tour date, will result in a refund of the total payment less 1200 Euros per person for administrative costs. No refund can be issued if cancellations must be made 30 days or less before the start date of the tour.
FOR & DURING YOUR TOUR
What documents do I need to bring?
It is the responsibility of each tour guest to obtain and carry with them a valid passport, visa (if required) or any other necessary travel document as required by current government specifications. We advise you to make copies of your passport and leave them in a separate location from the original, in case of loss or theft. An additional photo ID is useful for credit card purchases so that you can leave your passport in your room safe if desired. If your tour involves self-driving, then you will need an International Driving License / Permit, in addition to your National Driving License, to be able to drive in Europe. You can obtain an International Driving License / Permit in your home country through your local Automobile Association, at a small fee.
Do I need travel insurance?
We can include local travel insurance in the cost of your tour, however, to be honest, in practice very few clients do contract the travel insurance with us. The reason is that travel insurance has much better coverage when contracted in your country of origin, as in this case it will cover you from the moment you leave the country (meaning the coverage of your flights as well). We strongly recommend you contract complete travel and cancellation insurance with your local insurance agent
What happens if I need something in-country?
Unfortunately, travel does not always go perfectly, no matter how hard we strive to do our part. We are, however, here to assist you 24/7. On your arrival you will receive our contact information for general enquiries and also our 24-hour contact information for emergencies.
What is the best time of year to visit?
We always say that the best times to visit Spain, Portugal, Italy and France are spring and autumn. Basically because the weather is ideal, not too hot and not too cool and while still quite busy there are not so many visitors. In spring, the beautiful scenery offers green bursts of new shoots sprouting from the vines and flowers are blooming. The days are a bit longer in spring, so that is an added bonus. With the beautiful autumn fall colors, grape harvesting is in full swing ( September/October) so that is an added bonus as there is lot of activity at the wineries. Summer can be overwhelmingly hot, especially in the south of Spain & Italy and Portugal (well over 40ºC / 100ºF in Andalucia). Also in the summer there is generally more traffic and visitors generated by summer holiday tourists and locals on vacation. In winter the temperatures drop at night and obviously the days are shorter so November, December, January and February are still very nice months but considerably cooler.
What is the climate like?
Spain, Portugal, Italy and southern France have a moderate Mediterranean climate. Depending on whether you are in the mountains, in a city or at the beach, temperatures vary – the mountains are always cooler. Spring and fall often have the best weather because it is neither too hot nor too cold. You can definitely expect different weather conditions, depending on where you travel.
What about tipping/gratuities?
A question that many of our guests ask and still, a very difficult one to answer – all our chauffeurs, guides, etc. are being well paid to do their excellent jobs, so tipping is entirely at your discretion and not obligatory. In general a tip of around 5-15% is greatly appreciated at restaurants, etc., normally the higher the restaurant level, the higher the tip percentage. Still, it is not obligatory at all anywhere.
Can you make dinner reservations for us?
Of course, we will be delighted to handle your restaurant bookings! As a Gourmand Breaks guest, you will enjoy your very own Personal Travel Website prior to your tour, with plenty of restaurant recommendations for you in each location, from Michelin Stars and haute cuisine to local haunts and traditional tapas; we know all the best places to have a variety of dining experiences and are happy to make advance reservations. Just send your preferences over, with the day and hour you would ideally like, and we’ll set to work. Please note that for certain restaurants a credit card may be required in order to guarantee your table, where in case of cancellation a penalty may apply. In this case we will let you know when this happens.
What credit cards are most accepted?
Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere. Some small bars or shops may not accept credit cards so you should have some Euros handy too. ATM machines are readily available all over, although small villages may prove a bit more difficult, but all the cities will have various options to withdraw local currency. American Express will be accepted in some places, mostly high level restaurants and shops, but not all. Spain, Portugal, Italy and France all use Euro currency.
Wardrobe / Dress codes
The general style in Spain, Portugal, Italy and SW France is European chic, smart but very casual, so you can expect people wearing elegant jeans and classy polo shirts even in the best restaurants. Some dressy outfits for evening will be ideal, although there are very few places where a dress code is required. It is only really the top Michelin starred restaurants that tend to state that a strict dress code is required and it is usually stated on the restaurant website. Examples: Barcelona Lasarte Restaurant “requires a smart dress code”, El Club Allard in Madrid states “Shorts and sportswear are not permitted and smart casual attire is requested” etc. For your day to day, you definitely need to be comfortable as you will be walking around some old towns/cities, so can expect cobbled streets and narrow paths in places. In the summer, the temperatures are high, especially in the South of Spain which can be exceptionally hot so shorts and t-shirts will be fine. A sun hat may not be necessary but sunglasses are a customary accessory here! It is always handy to have a light sweater / cardigan (a thicker one in autumn/fall as well just in case for evenings).