If 2012 was the year of conceptualizing the hotel experience, 2013 will be the year those experiences actually come to life. In an effort to appeal to more luxury travelers, hotels will continue to invent the extraordinary for their guests. We've seen everything from deep sea dining to sky-high spas, to partnerships with top fashion designers who create one-of-a-kind hotel amenities.
In 2013, the "experience" will be the defining factor for luxury travelers. Hotels will be tasked with predicting the future of their guests or, in some cases, recreating history.
Taking people back in time isn't an easy feat, but with the help of wine purveyor Destination Cellars, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay transported a group of rewards members to Paris, 1976.
The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 -- otherwise known as the Judgement of Paris -- has been referred to as one of the most pivotal moments in wine history. France, which had always been hailed as the best wine making country, was up against California's unheard of Napa Valley in a blind tasting at Paris' InterContinental Hotel. On the table were a group of Chardonnays and another of red wines, Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California. The whole thing would later be recreated for the film Bottle Shock.
The tasting featured nine French wine experts, and included reputable French vintages like the 1970 Haut-Brion, the 1970 Mouton Rothschild and the 1973 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles. But it was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa and the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon that scored highest among the judges, thus kicking France out of the top spot for wines.
It was shocking to France. California won. The New World prevailed over the Old World. The wine world had changed forever. The little unknown valley-that-could represented, and has since built a wine country known to grow some of the best vintages in the world.
On the 30th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris, the Ritz-Carlton gathered a group of their Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card members and re-enacted what was one of the biggest moments in wine history.
Gathered in a ballroom overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a group of 50 oenophiles sat at tables, sipping and swirling wines that were carefully paired with Executive Chef Xavier Salomon's crafted menu. With the help of American journalist George Taber, who was present at the 1976 event, the wine night ended with the tasting of two extraordinary vintages that were present in the original competition: the 1970 Chateau Haut Brion and Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon.
Destination Cellars Sommelier Sean Meyer lead the room in their own taste-test. When the votes where in the not-so-surprising result was revealed: California won it again. And for wine lovers seated in the room, that taste of two 1970 vintages -- worth anywhere from $500-$700 a bottle -- will linger on their palette, an easy reminder of their once-in-a-lifetime experience with Ritz-Carlton.
The Exclusive Event Series is offered to Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card members. The series hosts at least four events a year at various Ritz-Carlton locations. Events include everything from golfing with Rocco Mediate at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and a private dinner with Wolfgang Puck plus tickets to the American Music Awards at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles.
As the weekend came to an end in Half Moon Bay, I listened to guests at the brunch the next morning talk about the events of the night before. "Can you believe that wine?!" "Did you prefer the California Cab or the Chardonnay?" "How much do you think that bottle of 1970 Chateau Haut Brion really goes for?"
And thus ended another successful wine tasting in California, complete with a little bit of Paris and a lot of unique experiences.