Idea Lab – Spain

At the heart of our office is an Idea Lab: a space in which we are constantly innovating, dreaming, and designing new ways to enhance your travels. It may be our network of contacts that allow us to bring all these ideas to life, but it is you – our clients – who keep us challenged and having fun. Whether your trip is straightforward, over-the-top, or anywhere in the middle, we are always in our lab and ready.

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Food and Wine

The secret has been out ever since The New York Times suggested that Spain has replaced France in the pantheon of foodie destinations. Yet we have known for much longer that the creativity and quality that characterizes food in Spain, from the simplest tapas or pintxos bar to Michelin 3-star restaurants, is unrivalled anywhere. Really.

  • Face time and kitchen tour with the chef of one of Europe’s most famous Michelin 3-star restaurants.
  • Hands-on introduction to Basque cuisine in a highly-exclusive 400-year-old gastronomic society in San Sebastian.
  • Private wine tastings at the finest estates of La Rioja, Priorat, Penedes, Ribero del Duero, and many up-and-coming regions all over Spain. Sherry tastings with the leading producers in Jerez.
  • Craft traditional paella in its birthplace, the old fashioned way – on a fire built with the wood from orange trees.
  • Private visits of artisanal and modern olive oil mills in Andalucia.
  • Private cooking lesson with a 3-Michelin-starred chef in Barcelona.
  • Participate in the stomping of the grapes (a very old-fashioned ritual) at the annual harvest in Castile y Leon, a la “I Love Lucy.”
  • Tapas and sangria workshop in Andalucia.
  • Visits to Spain’s finest producers of jamon, chorizo, sobrasada, cheese, and chocolate.
  • Visits to some of Spain’s most interesting artisanal food stores, from centuries-old family owned shops to highly-creative modern approaches.
  • Intensive cooking with a cookbook author whose expertise includes various regions of Spain as well as Moroccan cuisine.
  • Explorations of culinary traditions in various regions all over Spain. A typical example might be the king prawns of Sanlucar de Barrameda, the tuna of Barbate, and the caviar of Riofro, all accompanied by fine Manzanilla sherry from Jerez.
  • Walking gastro-tours of up-and-coming neighborhoods and well-established culinary centers in cities all over Spain.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bring The Kids

  • Private after-hours tour of the Real Madrid soccer stadium.
  • Dance to your heart’s content at a private flamenco lesson (for the kids or the entire family) in one of Seville’s top academies. If you wish, before the lesson, buy flamenco costumes for your children on the famous Calle Cuna.
  • Family hike along parts of, or the entire, Camino de Santiago. Fully supported with guide and luggage transport.
  • Chocolate tour of Barcelona.
  • Visit a school for castellers, people who create human pyramids – the record is said to be ten levels – for local festivals in Catalunya.
  • Spend a day on a bull-raising finca (ranch) in Andalucia with the finca’s owner.
  • Visit one of the most famous horse breeding estates for Andalucian horses.
  • Soccer (really “futbol”) tickets to any of Spain’s world-class soccer teams, including premium box tickets.
  • “Royal” box seats to the Royal Equestrian School’s (in Jerez) performance of dressage, by the famed Andalucian horses. We can also arrange private displays.
  • Watch the running of the bulls from the safety of a balcony in Pamplona.
  • Other adventures and activities include deep sea fishing, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding all over Spain.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are family-friendly. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Adventure + Adrenaline

  • Drive a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Porsche on a Formula 1 racetrack in Barcelona.
  • Sailing off the scenic northern coast of Mallorca.
  • Ride a Harley-Davidson through the Andalucian countryside.
  • Deep-sea fishing in the Mediterranean.
  • Private “tentadero de hembras” (testing of the fighting spirit of the breeding cows), in a bullring, or “tienta de machos” (testing of the fighting spirits of the bulls), in the open countryside. Both are critical steps in the breeding of fighting bulls.
  • World-class biking in Mallorca. Electrically-assisted bikes available for those of us who don’t like hills.
  • Off-piste skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and heli-touring of the famous “Los 3000” in the Pyrenees.
  • Kiting or windsurfing in Tarifa.
  • Horseback riding on rural estates in Andalucia.
  • Some of Europe’s finest migratory birdwatching in Donana (largest bird reserve in Europe) and Picos de Europa.
  • Sailing regatta in San Sebastian watching the fun from your own sailboat.
  • VIP seats at the Masters 1000 Tennis, Formula 1, or one of Madrid’s top soccer teams.
  • Virtually limitless options for hiking or biking including the Camino, Pyrenees, Alpujarras, and the Picos de Europa.
  • And, for the young (or young at heart), a nightlife crawl in Madrid. Adventure? Adrenaline? That part’s up to you.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


The Arts

  • Informal get-together with flamenco musicians in the owner’s back room of a local bar in Seville as you are swept away by the melodies, rhythms and chants of their musical tradition.
  • Be hosted by the owner of one of Barcelona’s most archetypical Art Nouveau private homes, designed by one of the movement’s early-century leading figures.
  • Close down one of Madrid’s top museums (such as the Prado, Reina Sofia, Picasso, or Thyssen-Bornemisza) for your private expert-led enjoyment.
  • Hear firsthand the stories of one of the families who managed to save the bulk of the greatest collection of Spanish art – the Prado – from destruction in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Insights into Spain’s booming contemporary art scene – including private collections in magnificent palaces and the latest works in Madrid’s hottest galleries. You will be hosted by the collectors or gallery owners.
  • Private tour of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona with a Picasso expert.
  • A gallery-hop focusing on the contemporary art scene in Madrid, hosted by a leading expert.
  • Access to ARCO, Spain’s annual international professional art fair, on dealers-only days.

We have plenty more up the sleeves of our painters’ smocks. Ask us.


Jewish Heritage

Jewish history of Spain is deep and complex, from the Golden Days of the Convivencia, to the dark days of the Inquisition. In the last 20 years, many Spaniards have been discovering Jewish roots; former synagogues are being identified, and former Jewish quarters being landmarked. All with pride.

For more about our own connections to Jewish heritage, please visit Jewish Heritage: It’s All Personal

  • Insider’s look at the Jewish heritage of Barcelona with a member of the Jewish community who is a leader in the preservation of Jewish patrimony in Spain.
  • Explore the Jewish Quarter of Seville with a member of the Jewish community.
  • Jewish heritage in towns all over Spain from Toledo to Cordoba to Gerona/Besalu to lesser known places like Ubeda and Tarragona.
  • Shabbat services with Jewish communities all over Spain.

Oy. We have so much more up our sleeves.


Golf

The list in endless – we don’t dare to try to tempt you…. Well, maybe just a bit:

  • With courses designed by the likes of Robert Trent Jones and Steve Ballesteros, Spain offers some of the finest golfing in Europe. With over 300 golf courses (and counting), mainly scattered along the Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, and Spain is a premier destination for many casual and scratch golfers.
  • So pack up your tees, lace up your shoes, and let us book you a tee time (or a private lesson with the club pro) at one of Spain’s most distinguished courses.
  • In northern Spain, you can golf at the PGA Catalunya on the Costa Brava, considered by many to be the best golf course in Spain. It also offers El Prat, a Greg Norman designed course, not far from Barcelona and Golf Santander.
  • In southern Spain, legendary for its year-round golfer-friendly climate, you can play Valderrama, home of 1997 Ryder Cup. It also offers the famous Sotogrande, a Robert Trent Jones masterpiece (within a breath of the Mediterranean), the Finca Cortesin (near Marbella on the Costa del Sol), and Santi Petri (near Cadiz).

We have plenty more in our golf bags. Ask us.


Celebrations

  • End your week-long extended family celebration of your 40th anniversary at a privately owned 18th-century palace with one of Spain’s top flamenco groups.
  • Invite your 20 closest friends for a week in Andalucia culminating in a party in a carmen (traditional home) in Granada, with gypsies from the local hills (yes, there are still some real ones).
  • Toast your 10th anniversary at an elegant dinner at an 18th-century palace in Madrid owned by a very well-known marquis close to the royal family and former director of one of Spain’s most important government offices, with a notable private art collection.
  • Pop the question in a completely closed (well, except for you) after-hours Alhambra, unarguably one of the world’s most romantic settings.
  • Sail with your new wife or husband along the northern coast of Mallorca.
  • Celebrate a graduation on a family-bonding adventure on the Camino de Santiago.
  • Bachelor’s party including deep sea fishing, a beer (or two) with a bullfighter, a round of golf at Valderrama and culminating in the main square of Pamplona for the start of the San Fermin Festival. Watch the “Running of the Bulls” from a balcony overlooking the madness.
  • Celebrate anything you want at the chef’s table at one of Europe’s best-known 3-Michelin-star restaurants.
  • End your big 50th birthday bash – with your 48 closest friends – with VIP seats at a Madrid-Barcelona soccer match followed by a party at a converted factory, one of Madrid’s coolest venues.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are great for celebrating a special occasion. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bragging Rights: Signature Experiences

  • Avoid the mobs. Close down the Alhambra after hours – just for you.
  • Meet one of Spain’s most famous fashion designers for an introduction to her collection at their showroom or atelier. If you are there for Fashion Week (February), we can arrange for you to see the behind-the-scenes preparations.
  • A private visit and dinner in a palace belonging to one of the most important noble families of Europe complete with an extensive collection of Old Masters paintings. This marquis is a direct descendant of an admiral who changed the course of history and whose name is known by every European.
  • Spend a day with one of Spain’s most famous bullfighters, watch him train and learn his secrets.
  • There are some parts of certain monasteries, such as the nuns’ private living quarters, to which the public is never allowed. Enter the residential quarter of a cloistered order in a 16th-century monastery in Granada.
  • Private tasting in one of Spain’s most prestigious wine estates in a room often reserved for European royalty.
  • After-hours, private tours of Madrid’s top museums, including the Prado, Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen, led by a curator or outside expert.
  • Private staging of a “rejoneo” – fighting of the bull on horseback.
  • Gallery-hopping with a well-known contemporary art critic and entrée to art shows only open to professionals.
  • A private show of “doma vaquera” (country dressage), or seats in the exclusive Royal Box at the Royal School of Equestrian Arts in Jerez.
  • Private balcony with cocktail reception at a game for Real Madrid.
  • Exclusive after-hours access to some of Spain’s most popular sights, including the Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alcazar in Seville.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


And, in case you were wondering, some of our favorites

We are always asked. We passed the question around to our staff in New York, our team in Spain, and some of our top guides and specialists. Here are the answers.

  • Special entrée to one of Barcelona’s most beautiful private homes, in a building designed by one of Barcelona’s most legendary 20th-century Art Nouveau architects. Hosted by the owner.
  • Informal get-together with flamenco musicians in the owner’s (back) room of a local bar in Seville. They will introduce you to the melodies, rhythms, and chants of their music.
  • Private after-hours tour of the Real Madrid soccer stadium.
  • Sherry (or cerveza) with a well-known bullfighting expert and journalist. He will let you in on all the secrets of this Spanish tradition, especially why it is so important and so hotly debated. You will meet in a tapas place famous among bullfighters.
  • Hear firsthand the stories of one of the families who managed to save the bulk of the greatest collection of Spanish art – the Prado – from destruction in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Meet one of Spain’s most famous fashion designers for an introduction to her collection at their showroom or atelier. If you are there for Fashion Week (February), we can arrange for you to see the behind-the-scenes preparations.
  • An insider’s look at the Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Seville. Witness preparations of an important brotherhood (cofradia), and enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of the celebrations from a private balcony overlooking the procession.
  • Dinner in the home of a Sevillian family on their terrace overlooking the Seville Cathedral and the iconic Giralda.
  • After-hours access to the Alhambra.
  • And, for the young (or young at heart), a nightlife crawl in Madrid.