The opportunity to learn, while still relaxing and enjoying a new place, is at the cornerstone of Belcampo Belize, a 12-room eco-lodge in Punta Gorda, the southernmost part of Belize. The property boasts a 3,000-acre farm, and last year, Belcampo opened an agritourism center that runs classes on the production of chocolate, rum, coffee, jams, and marmalades.
Along with one-day courses, the agritourism center offers four- or five-day, in-depth master classes that are led by esteemed partners such as James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee and Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut Chocolat. In the case of the chocolate class, you start by plucking cacao pods and then ferment, roast, conche, and finally temper the chocolate into a bar.
“The more we learn about how food can affect us, the more we care about how it is produced,” says Belcampo CEO Anya Fernald. “Many foods we can learn about by just going to the farmers market, but some deeper learning can happen on the farm, and many people want that deeper learning. Another aspect is just the pleasure of eating and drinking in the environment where the food is from with the people who produce it, sharing their passion and wisdom.”
And it doesn’t hurt that Belcampo Belize is surrounded by 15,000 acres of rainforest preserve, making it an incredible destination for saltwater fly-fishing and bird-watching. The notion of staying at a farmhouse or in a rural setting as a traveler is probably most synonymous with Italy and its network of agriturismos. In 1985, to augment the income of small-scale farmers, the government established an agriturismo law, which allowed for the restoration of abandoned farm buildings and estates.
And in some cases, it’s city dwellers like Paola and Giorgio Fabbrini who follow their lifelong dream of running a country guesthouse. The husband-and-wife team spent four years renovating a 17th-century farmhouse in Tuscany. Nestled near the San Casciano Bagni thermal baths, in the middle of the Val d’Orcia, their luxury six-room property, Casa Fabbrini, finally opened in 2011.
This being Italy, you will find the requisite olive trees dotting the perimeter of the property, from which the house olive-oil blend is pressed. The grounds also comprise a vegetable garden, fruit orchards, and a saltwater pool. Along with Casa Fabbrini’s olive oil, Paola sells her homemade pear, apricot, and cherry jams. Or better yet, you can even make some, along with pastas, during their five-day Tuscan cooking classes.
“Our guests love the silence at dawn, the sunset colors, seeing animals run free in the fields,” Paola says. “And here food arrives to the table minutes after it has been on the tree. In every ingredient lies a sense of respect for nature.”