In September, Hosted Villas welcomed the Stinson group from Toronto to Bastide de Ventoux in Provence, France. The group of six couples embarked on an exciting one week Hosted Cycling villa vacation and were looked after at the villa by their Local Host, Pascha, and house chef, Alex. Festivity was a definite theme for this trip with four guests celebrating 50th birthdays this year!
Of the 12, seven or so were strong cyclists and the remainder were more recreational cyclists who wanted to do shorter outings. Our Villa Specialists worked with Lead Guest, Tim to ensure that the week included the perfect balance of guided and independent cycling, cultural and historical excursions and of course, culinary delights to ensure that each and every Guest experienced the trip of a lifetime. Greeting the Stinsons with an impressive arrival buffet at the villa, Pascha discussed the week ahead with the guests and made sure all was in place to ensure the group enjoyed a stress free week in Provence! The villa itself “blew them away”. The views, the space, the quiet corners for privacy, were all exceptional.
Equipped with their Hosted Villas Ride Guides and top quality carbon rental bikes, the group was ready to take on the infamous ‘Mistral’ wind and explore the recommended cycling routes with enthusiasm and excitement. Some opted for the more relaxed Recreational rides and so made their way through scenic towns and villages such as Bédoin, Flassan and Malaucène stopping frequently for a well-deserved café and a pastry. Others enjoyed the more difficult Performance routes and by midweek were ready for the intimidating Mont Ventoux climb. While it was cold at the top, Tim described the ride as ‘spectacular and a great personal achievement’ .
While cycling was the focus each morning, afternoons were left open for off-bike exploration. A visit to the renown Isle sur la Sorgue Sunday market was a highlight, as were Avignon and Les Baux. Everyone marveled at local guide Janet’s expert tour of the Roman ruins at Vaison la Romaine. A private wine tasting at the villa was another memorable occasion for the group!
To honor the birthday celebrants, Pascha and our Villa Specialists organized a truly memorable French themed buffet gala at Bastide de Ventoux one evening. Dressed in the colors of France the group played boules, snacked on Camembert, sipped on pastis, enjoyed a delicious buffet and sang and danced until the early hours. It took house cook, Alex, two days to prepare the chocolate birthday cake that Tim would later describe as the ‘best cake he has ever eaten’.
As is often the case in Europe, food played an important role in providing the Stinson group with a unique and authentic experience . They remarked that Alex, the house chef’s cooking was ‘truly unforgettable’. Once everyone tasted Alex’s cooking they cancelled all of their restaurant reservations and dined at the villa instead. Each day began with a breakfast buffet consisting of local goodies and delights such as freshly baked croissants, quiche and fruit salad set the group up every morning. In the evening the group feasted on various local gourmet delicacies. Tagine with rabbit was the plat du jour one evening. Hors d’oeuvres with foie gras and homemade fig jam proved a big hit on another sunset afternoon, but the pièce de résistance was the delectable paella prepared for the group’s buffet gala at Bastide de Ventoux.
Tim spoke for everyone in the group when he said “the trip was so amazing-it far exceeded everyone’s expectations”. We look forward to planning another Hosted Cycling week for the Stinson group in Italy or Spain.
As you can probably attest, your most important luxury is time. We at Hosted Villas work to make sure your vacation is stress-free. Our Villa Specialists draw on 20 years of “we’ve been there” trip-planning knowledge, so your itinerary is as unique as you are. Over the years we have catered to our guests varying interests and hobbies and Hosted them locally in the regions we represent.
Whether its golf, opera, beaches or romance you choose the theme and Hosted Villas will Host you and your guests and ensure that your trip is a once in a lifetime experience. We would love to hear about your interests and what you are passionate about. Reach out to one of our Villa Specialists today and get inspired to travel and truly experience life as a local your very own home away from home.