Do you prefer dark, milk or white chocolate? We think it all tastes pretty good, to be honest. And with food being such a big part of our travel choices these days, it’s no wonder the much-loved sweet treat has found its way into our holidays. So, in honour of National Chocolate Day on Friday 7th July 2017, we’ve unwrapped our pick of the best holidays for you chocoholics. Keep scrolling to find out where you’ll go for your next sweet escape…
Do you associate chocolate-making with Cadbury’s World in Birmingham? Think again. You might be surprised to learn that St Lucia has been a prime producer of the sweet stuff for centuries. In fact, the tropical island is home to the official Hotel Chocolat plantation, Rabot Estate. This place harvests cocoa beans so pure, they’re known as the ‘Champagne of the confectionery world’. Drooling, yet?
Because cocoa plantations in St Lucia are known as estates, the highest quality chocolate is made entirely on one plantation, and has its own distinct flavour just like your favourite vino – we think that’s a good enough reason to hop on a plane to St Lucia…
FYI: the Anse Chastanet hotel in St Lucia has its own cocoa bean plantation and chocolate laboratory. The theme continues into the spa, where you can have everything from chocolate orange body polishes, to full-body mocha massages.
Holidaymakers swap the rainy UK for sunny Mexico for more than just a few reasons. For some people, it’s the breathtaking sights at world-renowned Chichen Itza, and for others it’s the Pacific Coast’s surf-perfect waves. What you may not know, though, is that Mexico is a front-runner when it comes to producing some of the world’s best chocolate, too.
The Mayan people discovered cocoa as early as 900 AD – hundreds of years before cocoa was brought to Europe. Back in the day, Mayan chocolate came in liquid form, and was made from crushed cocoa beans, chilli peppers, and water, giving it a bitter taste which led to its nickname, ‘food of the gods’.
Did you know it was the Spanish Conquistador, Don Hernán Cortés, who first realised the commercial value of chocolate? He brought cocoa beans from Mexico to Spain in 1528, and subsequently, the tradition of drinking chocolate spread across Europe, eventually reaching the UK in the 1650s.
The original Mexican recipe for drinking chocolate was altered to Spanish tastes, adding in the likes of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. It was then discovered that chocolate tasted even better served hot. Soon after, hot chocolate became a super trendy beverage that was mostly enjoyed by the rich. But, as cocoa beans were in short supply, hot chocolate was a secret recipe for nearly a century.
FYI: The Hotel Gala, in Tenerife, pampers its guests with decadent chocolate body wraps that hydrate the skin and soothe the muscles. And over in Costa Del Sol, Spain, the Elba Estepona Gran Hotel & Thalasso Spa spa treatment lists chocolate bubble baths, which are followed by a cocoa mousse peel and a chocolate fondant body wrap.
It goes without saying that Italy boasts some of the yummiest dishes in the world. There’s no exception when it comes to their choice of chocolates, either. Until the 16th century, cocoa was pretty much foreign to Europeans. In fact, it was the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, who came across the cocoa bean on his fourth mission to the Americas on 1502, when he and his crew seized a large native canoe that contained cocoa beans among other goods. Fast forward to today, though, and Italian chocolate is most famous for the addition of crunchy hazelnuts.
FYI: The TUI Sensimar Nastro Azzurro, in Sorrento, offers a ‘cioccococcole’ pampering session, which starts with a cocoa powder and butter scrub and is followed up by a chocolate massage.