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Seoul kicks off a Four Seasons global culinary adventure

May 10,2017
Rainer Stampfer, hotel operations president, Asia Pacific for Four Seasons. [FOUR SEASONS]
Culinary Discovery, a three-week tour on Four Seasons hotel’s private jet, begins in Seoul on May 27. Guests will get to dine at many restaurants and have tea time at Changdeok Palace, left, to learn more about what cultural elements have helped shape what we now know as Korean culture. Guests will travel in a private jet, right, that has been reformatted to only have 52 seats. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION, FOUR SEASONS]
When choosing the first destination for a trip that takes travelers around the world on a culinary expedition, luxury hotel chain Four Seasons chose Seoul. The global hotel brand has introduced the first Culinary Discovery, a curated package tour program that includes dining in hard-to-book restaurants in nine different cities, starting with eateries in Seoul.

The package is special. The hotel takes its guest onto its private jet, a reformed Boeing 757 with only 52 seats that fully recline for maximum comfort. There will be a chef on board to cater to different dietary restrictions and requests, and an in-flight concierge service to have guests fully prepared for their next stops. Guests will go to restaurants or even a chef’s home chosen by chef Rene Redzepi and his team at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is considered a leading restaurant in the culinary world. Guests on this tour stay in Four Seasons hotels in the cities they visit and exploring each city by car will also be provided upon request.

A trip this fancy surely has a hefty price tag. It costs $150,000 to join the tour and eat at top restaurants without going through the hassle of calling ahead of time to get reservations. All one needs to do is block off from May 27 to June 14, and follow the itinerary the hotel suggests. The package will take its guests to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Mumbai, Florence, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Paris after they pig out in Seoul.

“You will be able to get access to special locations you wouldn’t be able to get to even if you were to spend a load of money by yourself,” said Rainer Stampfer, hotel operations president, Asia Pacific for Four Seasons, during an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on a visit to Seoul, adding that the Four Seasons will make the experience something unforgettable for all age groups that have signed up.

“Our core expertise is to know where you eat well, drink well, and where you are entertained… and you have to worry about absolutely nothing.”

Of course guests will be dining at a Michelin-starred restaurants including Jung Sik Dang in Korea, but the hotel has also planned experiences that not many visitors to Korea will get during a short three-day stay. Besides going to restaurants that have been acknowledged by international institutions, guests are invited to dine at chef Lee Jong-guk’s private home in Seongbuk-dong, northern Seoul. Lee, who became known internationally after Gotgan, a restaurant that he advised, earned two Michelin stars last fall, will host dinner. They will also have tea time after a night tour at Changgeok Palace so that they can have a broader understanding of where Korean culinary aesthetics come from.

“Since there are not nearly as many Korean restaurants [worldwide], guests will be surprised to see how multi-faceted Korean cuisine is and I think it will leave them with particular memories,” said Stampfer.

The entire culinary-focused itinerary will be briefed to guests in Seoul, as Peter Kreiner, Noma’s managing director will come and explain what to expect from the trip. After Seoul, the guests will move on to Tokyo to try L’Effervescence, a French restaurant by chef Shinobu Namae. They will forage for truffles in Florence and meet an 18th-generation butcher.

Stampfer also said that Seoul can be a destination for other themed-trips, such as arts, as the hotel is on a constant search for new travel opportunities in the future. It has two more trips later in the year with one focusing on cultural and historical experiences like visiting temples and one on outdoor activities such as camel trekking.

There is still some room on the Culinary Discovery and interested parties can sign up. For more information, go to privatejet.fourseasons.com/fs

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]