The Hotel Crillon le Brave in Provence lies in the heart of truffle nirvana near Mont Ventoux, France. So what better place to learn how to hunt for them? As the truffles grow just underneath the surface of the soil, guests accompany trained dogs who help sniff and locate the buried treasure. The hunt is followed by a light truffle lunch. Also included is wine tasting at one of esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape's estates, a truffle cooking demonstration, and a tour through Provence's antiques capital, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Remember the fun Schoolhouse Rock song about how a bill becomes a law? "I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill. Well, it's a long, long journey…" The Fairmont Washington, D.C. has a program, How to Pass a Bill In Washington, where guests learn to navigate the intricate bill-passing system. Participants receive pre-arrival tips from a federally registered lobbyist on how to craft an agenda and are given a suggested itinerary, overnight accommodation and a mini American flag.
At the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a maximum of four guests gather at the resort's light-filled Artist's Cottage for a 90-minute customized blending session with healing essential oils. The students continually smell about 40 oils at different intervals -- rating them for preferences as they go along. Once the essential oil is blended, bottled and named, guests have the option of indulging in a massage with their unique creation. That way, they can intimately inhale and absorb the libation into their skin.
Guests at the Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant and Cigar Company in Nassau, Bahamas can become serious cigar aficionados. That's because visitors can learn to roll, sort, clean and store cigars with individual or group rolling lessons. A lesson begins with the history of tobacco, where to find the best leaves, and how to blend them together to make award winning Graycliff cigars. Participants keep their stogie and also receive a second complimentary cigar and cigar cutter.
Watch geeks take heed. Rocco Forte's Le Richemond Hotel in Geneva offers a private three-hour workshop where guests learn to assemble an ETA 6497 - the super-complex and intricate movement in a pocket watch – considered the brain of the watch. Through the esteemed Swiss watch-training institute, Fondation Haute Horlogerie, guests work under the guidance of a watchmaker and are given tools and a magnifying glass. Students disassemble the 78 parts of the movement then put each intricate piece back together.
Why go to Paris for decadent macaroons, when you can make them in New York? Star pastry chef Sandro Micheli at Adour Alain Ducasse at the St. Regis New York teaches students the art of making his celebrated signature coconut, chocolate, passion fruit and rosewater macaroons. The next class will take place in the Adour kitchen on Saturday, Feb. 12, just in time for Valentine's Day.
Polo anyone? At Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, a private hotel retreat outside Punta del Este, in Uruguay, guests have exclusive access to the property's world-class private polo field and stable and can take lessons with a pro. Learn to swing a mallet on the field where some of the world's greatest polo players, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Jr., Bartolomé Castagnola and Marcos Heguy, have played. The field, which features stunning panoramic views across the lagoon and out towards the Atlantic Ocean, is considered to be one of the most spectacular in South America.
Fuggedabout a simple hotel cooking class. Learn to make a contessa-worthy feast at the Hotel Caesar Augustus in Capri. At the resort, perched sky high 1,000 feet above the bay of Naples, guests work with ingredients from the hotel's gardens under the guidance of the executive chef. In the past, guests have cooked up eggplant balls with fresh tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil sauce and Capri-style ravioli filled with caciotta cheese and marjoram in a cherry tomato sauce with fresh basil. The package also includes a private boat or taxi tour of the island and a personalized apron from the chef.