For many people, chocolate and travel is a happy combo of two major passions. Chocolate events, festivals and attractions around the world attract thousands of visitors. “Chocolate tourism is a new niche that appeals to women and the boomer crowd in search of the finest taste sensations the world has to offer in particular,” says Doreen Pendgracs, author of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.
Here are some “sweet spots” we’ve found.
Perched high in the lush rainforest of Dominica, this budget-friendly Caribbean inn surrounded by cacao, banana, coconut and papaya trees, and tropical flowers offers a presentation on the chocolate-making process and tasting of its house-made CocoJazz chocolate squares, flavored with peanut, roasted coconut, cocoa bean, ginger, espresso and mint ($10, or free for inn guests). The artisanal touch extends to six all-wood rooms decorated in vibrant colors with mosaic-tiled baths and private porches, plus an open-air treehouse that sleeps six. cocoacottages.com
Now in its 25th year, the Chocolate Bar at this luxury downtown Boston hotel tempts chocoholics with five dangerous words: all-you-can-eat buffet ($42, $29 for children 5-12). Over 100 desserts, from chocolate fondant cake, cookies, cupcakes, brulee, tarts to whoopee pies, are served Saturday afternoons from September through June in Café Fleuri. Cacao-infused cocktails include Chocolate Decadence, made from dark chocolate Godiva liqueur, raspberry vodka and Frangelico. Private birthday parties and wedding showers for up to 80 can be arranged. A package at this grand 318-room hotel in a former Federal Reserve Bank features the buffet for two, the chocolate’s signature chocolate bars, and use of the spa’s indoor pool and 24-hour fitness center. boston.langhamhotels.com
Located on St. Lucia’s oldest plantation, Rabot Estate, this luxury boutique hotel founded in 1745 and owned by a British chocolate maker offers a Tree-to-Bar tour that starts with a walk of its cacao groves and ends with making your own chocolate and truffles ($80, or $55 for hotel guests). Cacao-based cuisine at its restaurant features chicken liver parfait with 65% dark chocolate ganache, Angus beef with dark chocolate Port wine sauce, and curried chicken with cacao nibs and creamed coconut., plus a nine-stage tasting plate that ranges from roasted cacao beans, liquid chocolate to caramels. Chocolate-based spa treatments include massages, facials, and manicures/pedicures. Fourteen rooms furnished in spare contemporary style offer close-ups of the Pitons, St.. Lucia’s iconic volcanic peaks, and open-air showers. hotelchocolat.com
At this glamorous luxury hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Palace Chocolate Cult offers a vast chocolate buffet – like Grand Cru truffles from Zurich’s Confiserie Sprungli to cakes and tarts prepared by the hotel pastry chef – for $45 in Le Grand Hall in late January, during the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. Chocolate Cult will also be held in late February and late December in 2014. The outdoor pool boasts breathtaking views of the snowy Alps. badruttspalace.com
This luxury hotel was built overlooking the Hershey chocolate factory in 1933 in Chocolate Town, USA. The Hershey museum tells the amazing rags-to-riches saga of Milton S. Hershey, whose chocolate empire built the town, and offers a Countries of Origin tasting comparing flavors of chocolate grown in Africa, Indonesia and Latin America, and lets visitors create their own chocolate in the Chocolate Lab. A mystery show in 4D (with 100+ possible outcomes based on audience participation) is the latest attraction at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Chocolate-based spa treatments range from fondue wraps, whipped cocoa baths to chocolate bean polish. The 276-room hotel offers chocolate adventure, family and romance winter packages that include tickets to various chocolate experiences. thehotelhershey.com