UK-born Anthony Torkington, the new General Manager of Relais & Châteaux, says he wants to put more emphasis on showcasing properties within the network that produce wine. Little wonder as he was most recently GM of such a property near Bordeaux. “We want to make it easy for our members to sell wine amongst themselves”, states Torkington, adding, “I think more and more people are looking for holidays and trips away where are they learn and they want to learn about wine. They want to understand the chef, they want to understand where the chef is buying his products, with which produce he is working, and they also want the wine angle.”

At ILTM Cannes, Torkington introduced us to Vincent Parinaud, General Manager of the recently refurbished Royal Champagne, a veritable jewel in R&C’s crown when it comes to wine tourism. From Épernay station, beautifully winding roads lead the traveller past ancient villages nestled in the Champagne hillsides (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). Further uphill, we find Champillon, a town of just 500 souls that delivers breath-taking views of the Marne Valley. It is up here that one encounters the newly revitalised Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa. Along with a major upgrade of the historic building—once a coaching inn where the kings of France traditionally stopped en route to their coronation (and where, it is said, Napoleon passed more than once)— a newly-constructed building boldly houses the region’s only destination spa. The property is also able to host groups of up to 150… Meeting planners take note!