Susan & Barbara
You make of this trip what you want. If you want to do little cooking and mostly observe that is an option. We went all in and got as much cooking experience hands on as offered. There was plenty of down time to visit the sights in the area. Location is a bit secluded but the local town was very warm and welcoming. Side trips were great.
I really enjoyed this trip, everything was planned and organized so I didn't have to worry about anything. There was a good mix of planned excursions, cooking classes and free time, and everyone from the hotel and cooking class staff to the tour guides and drivers were all so helpful and pleasant!
Carl & Mary
Trip taken October 2018
Love the hands-on cooking classes. The Master Chef and the Chef were incredibly knowledgeable and explained and aided each of the "students" as we prepared our delicious recipes. The kitchen facilities were modern and well equipped. It was so much fun interacting with all of our "classmates". It was a "Blast"!!!! The excursions along the Amalfi Coast was absolutely magnificent. Thoroughly enjoyed Amalfi, Ravello and Positano. So much charm and character of these beautiful towns nestled such natural, gorgeous scenery. Touring the ruins of Pompeii and visiting the Isle of Capri were so enjoyable and memorable. We just loved these tours with some personal time to explore points of interest! Having dinner at the world renowned Don Alfonso restaurant in the small town of San' Agata was an absolute highlight. It was one of the finest dining experiences on the planet.
All three of us thoroughly enjoyed this trip. The chefs and cooking kitchen were great. Given the small group (7), we each had individual attention, the recipes were easily accomplished. The field trips were interesting and the drivers informative. The setting was lovely and the accommodations were certainly fine, but perhaps the one area that could be improved on...
Gilda & Carolyn
Trip taken June 2018
Wonderful experience. Service, attention , planning all first class
Jerry & Helen
Trip taken June 2018
The facilities were superb as was the staff. We couldn't have had a better experience
What a wonderful time our group of seven had. The entire staff was warm, helpful and a joy to be with. Our rooms were very comfortable and the views were spectacular. The weather could not have been better. Since this was our first cooking course experience we were not sure what to expect. The chef was friendly, fun and a good teacher who taught us to respect the dough we had just made. We were his last class for the season and with 14 of us he really had his work cut out for him. He needed a vacation after us! The tours to Pompeii and the three tiny Amalfi Coast towns were excellent. One of the real highlights was our visit to make cheese. We were able to observe what day to day life was like in a working household. Her son explained how he was instrumental in convincing his father that if they sold their olive oil to area restaurants and hotels that their profits would improve greatly rather than simply selling the olives as a raw product. Having lunch there was like dining with family. The program offered a nice balance between cooking and touring the beautiful Amalfi Coast. I can't thank you enough for offering this very unique program. We all loved every moment we spent and please let us know if you decide to offer an advanced class. A true 10 out of 10 experience for us all.
Vivian B., IL
My daughter and I just returned from an incredible week. The property is magnificent and the views spectacular. Ermelinda and the entire staff, Giovanna, Luigi, Daniela and Lena to name a few, welcomed us as though we were family. Every possible detail was taken care of, and, each of them went out of their way to make our visit very, very special. Our cooking lessons were, of course, the highlight of our stay. He is a great chef (so charming and handsome, too!!) and teacher. His love of cooking certainly was felt in each class. The itinerary was perfect for us as well. Each day was planned so that we could experience as much of the beauty and charm of this area as possible in a week. I am back to NH only one day and already anxious to return next year with my other daughter!!
Marie H., NH
It is hard to find enough superlatives to describe this experience! From the time they welcomed us at the door until the final "arrivederci" it was magic. The natural beauty of the location was a feast for all the senses--and the food was yet another feast. My daughter and I were participating in a class only with another mother-daughter combo, so the small number made for intensely personal instruction. The times we spent in the kitchen with the Chef were wonderful. The dishes we made will certainly be attempted at home. I loved the balance of travel/relaxation/sightseeing/instruction. However, it would be nice to have had more opportunity to cook. I simply cannot find anything negative to say about the whole week. Thanks for such a wonderful time. Ciao!
Jan K., KY
1. The site was fantastic 2. The staff at the site were very helpful and extremely nice 3. The cooking class was a lot of fun. More low key than I expected (this is good!) and the chef was fantastic 4. The visit to the family farm where cheese and olive oil are made was a highlight. 5. The day trip to Capri was memorable 6. The day trip to Amalfi was a bit squeezed - I think it would be better to leave earlier in the morning and maybe spend all of the time in one of the towns rather than trying to do two. 7. We ate too much! The pre-planned dinner in Massa Lubrense on Sat night was too much food and just OK; I think it would work better to arrange something lighter and less formal for dinner on the night following the first class since we had such a large lunch. Alternatively, we could leave for the Pompei excursion after breakfast and have the cooking lesson at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.
Roy S., OH
The hotel was wonderful, very intimate and personal. The staff was friendly and helpful. The chef made the classes fun and yet we learned. Also, the group of people was a wonderful mixture of ages,interests, fun, and came from all over the U.S. and abroad. We had a lot of laughs, food and wine. The packet provided was the most professional one I've ever seen. Your attention to detail from aprons to diplomas was wonderful and thoughtful. Anyone that I spoke to in Chicago was helpful and sincere. Great job! I had a wonderful experience and would consider another vacation with you.
Carole B., FL
The entire trip was amazing. Every detail was taken care of: some things were done before I knew I needed it, like sitting by the pool and having water delivered before I asked for it. The people working at the hotel were very nice, kind, helpful, and just such a treat to be around. All the partners were also perfect, the driver, the tour guide at Pompei, and of course, the family at Rosa's... The packet had everything needed to enjoy the classes. In fact, every night before going to sleep, I would read what the next day would bring.
The International Kitchen staff was very helpful. My sister and I were very excited about taking this trip and we did have a lot of questions. Every we time we called or emailed, we were treated very kindly and patiently. The staff also arranged to have us picked up at our hotel in Naples instead of going to the train station as well as dropped off at our hotel on the return. That was very nice and I felt it went above and beyond as well as providing us with a sense of security.
Nancy W., MI
From the moment we arrived, the service was exceptional. We ... found our suite incredible! The room was appointed with beautiful antiques and fantastic views from the veranda! We were in heaven. We met Ermelinda, and she was fantastic throughout our stay. She assisted in every aspect of our stay. She remained very pleasant, courteous, and very 'on top of things'. The service at the hotel by everyone was the best that I have ever experienced. All meals were filled with the freshest ingredients (from the organic garden on the premises no less--I absolutely loved this) and everything that we tasted has left a lasting memory for us. I have come home and cooked several [dishes] already! The chef was incredible in the kitchen (the facility again exceeded expectations), he has such passion for his cooking that I still can hear some of his words of wisdom, "You cook with your eyes, your smell, your taste, and touch; but most of all, cook from your heart". Both my husband and I feel that he has great potential to do unbelievable things. He also has a wonderful sense of humor and was very funny, in English! There was not one thing we made or prepared for us either with him or by him that we did not feel was excellent. We absolutely loved Antonio and Rosa when we were allowed to help make mozzarella cheese and limoncello. Our lunch at their home felt like we were their family. Antonio's father came out to the lemon grove and let us taste the fresh lemon juice with a little sugar. We purchased the olive oil and had it shipped back. It is amazing! Our tours to Positano and Ravello were incredible. We were both so thankful that we had a driver arranged for us because the roads were so tortuous! Fantastic views and very breathtaking. Our [excursion to] the island of Capri was an unbelievable journey...
Obviously you can see that I considered this trip the very best I have ever taken!! My husband and I have been to many places, but this was so very special. The week was so memorable that I actually cried leaving. I hugged the owner. I felt so thankful that he had created such a place. I (personally) also loved his dog (Mia, neopolitan bull mastiff)--I was a little homesick for my own dogs. She was so sweet. I would see her daily. There were no negatives about our stay. I would go back in a heartbeat!! There was some discussion about an advanced course...Please keep me posted, I would come! Thank you for the best cooking experience I have ever had!
Sincerely, Alida (Dolly), MO
My wife and I both enjoyed the experience. We learned how to cook Napolitan style - we were used to cooking Genovese style, so the change was good. The cook was a lot of fun - we "dished" it out and he gave it back. Just the way it should be. The staff at the hotel was excellent - anything we wanted we got. It was especially great to see the owner, Salvatore, in the background; but, always making sure things got done. The pace was just right - we got time to relax, but, when it came down to cooking, the time was just right....
Rich & Ellen C., CA
Facility was in an excellent location, people/staff were outstanding, accomodations were very good, food was excellent, and daily activities were well thought out. We were very satisfied with The International Kitchen's European partners. Their English was very good, they were gracious and seemed very interested in making sure we had a good time. Your staff in Chicago also did a very good job in coordinating all of our activities. Our experience was very good and we would recommend your services in the future... Thank you for your efforts and a special thank you to Ermelinda for her special efforts in Italy. She is a keeper.....
Blanche S., CA
We had a wonderful time. The hotel is superb and the staff could not have been more helpful. We felt like queens. The side trips to Positano and Ravello were disappointing because there just was not enough time to see each town in a decent ammount of time. We only had one hour in each place. Sorrento was about the same. We may have had 2 hours there which is just not enough time. No time to go to Sant'Agata either. There is so much to do in southern Italy and it must be difficult to combine the cooking and the sightseeing. When I go again for the advanced course, I will definitely take additional days to sightsee and relax. We were happily exhausted leaving and wished we could have stayed a few more days to chill out. Food and wine were very good. Cooking class was very big. I think no more than 10 max. in a class. Visit to mozzarella factory and farm was very interesting. Time well spent. Other than not enough time, the trip was really perfect. Thank you so much for all of your help. Your association is a marriage made in heaven. The Chicago group was excellent and very helpful. They helped with some side trips we wanted to take. Very knowledgable and courteous. One of the best vacations I ever had!! Looking forward to going back!!
Mary D., NJ
I've been thinking over and over how will I explain our experience with The International Kitchen - how can I express just how unbelievably special it was? How simply perfect and exceeding ANY expectations I may have had? Everything about the trip was perfect, every single thing. Each member of the staff (Ermelinda, Daniella, Luigi, Leche, Stefano, Antonio - every single person) at the hotel is out of this world. So accommodating, friendly, helpful and down right fun! The cooking classes were amazing and SUCH a blast. The group we were with was such a diverse, interesting group, 2 couples from Cali and 2 couples from Florida (one of which was on their honeymoon!). The chef is simply a fabulous, amazing teacher and phenomenal person. He was funny, helpful, insightful and so very talented. Salvatore could not have been more inviting to us! Sarah and I said over and over it felt as though we were staying at someone's home (albeit the most amazing home). Even Mia, his 4 month old mastiff puppy, made us feel welcome. The town was perfect, the day trips were amazing. The day spent with Rosa and Antonio just doesn't happen, being invited into someone's home, watching and experiencing their life, and then having the opportunity to eat a meal with them - a meal in their home, which they prepared from their garden. It just felt like every piece of the trip was thought out to be done in the best way possible. It was a trip of a lifetime. One I will never forget and one I feel truly blessed to have been able to have experienced. And you know, we have YOU to thank because I'm not sure if you remember but you suggested this particular program to Sarah and me and I'm just not sure how to thank you.
I have been gushing about every experience to friends, family and coworkers since I got back. And will continue to forever. Sarah and I believe the trip is something that was a dream vacation come true, a dream vacation I didn't know existed in the exact way this one did.
I actually cried when we left for the airport. I was so sad to leave my new friends. I plan to make it a top priority to return.
Thank you so very much Robyn!!!
Thank you thank you thank you!
OK, seriously, this is the most incredible trip I have ever taken. I have to tell you that I have travelled aLOT, and we have stayed in the nicest hotels in the world, but nothing compares to this. This is the rarest find, the combination of beauty, comfort and luxury, while still feeling intimate and quaint. Simply put, this trip was a soul awakening and filling experience. I would give it my HIGHEST recomendation.... The most exquisite experience one could ask for. Everything, the accomodations, the food, the cooking lessons, the staff, the wine, the gorgeous grounds and views, is simply perfection! I cannot even put into words how wonderful and meaningful this experience was. Thank you!
Sarah S., NY
I absolutely enjoyed each and every moment. The chef had to put up with some strong willed women and one man. And he was a trooper. His knowledge and assistance during our cooking lessons was great. I enjoyed his little quips, i.e. "You must feel, touch, caress the dough" (when we were trying to adequately knead or mix our pasta). The members of my group were a hoot! I appreciate all of their personalities. My sister and I both loved it. Please let me know when you do another class, possibly with different recipes because I'd love to come again to the Relais Oasi Olimpia. I loved the excursions, also. It was a good mix of cooking and sightseeing. I have never been to Italy, so every day trip was good to me!.
I loved it. I'd do it again and I would recommend the cooking class to everyone. All of the staff was absolutely magnificent. So helpful, courteous, thoughtful! Please compliment them all for their hospitality.
Jodi R., WI
This vacation class was fabulous. It was beyond words. The instruction, the instructor, the special care that was extended toward us, the camaraderie, THE RECIPES--just EVERYTHING couldn't have been better. I can't give this experience enough complimentary remarks or high grades. Every detail was thought out so carefully--and to have people cleaning up after you and picking up after you during cooking was a dream. The staff at the Villa treated us like such ladies. It was a wonderful feeling to have their respect and concern about our comfort and happiness. They couldn't do enough for us, and that came across very clearly. I don't think that the most critical of evaluators could have found fault with this experience.
Joanna S., FL
When anyone asks me how I liked my trip to Italy I always start out by saying "This vacation/class FAR EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS" I met with Karen and some of her staff a few months before the trip and I was impressed with the operation; so I really had high expectation. From the first moment when we arrived at the hotel and we were greeted outside by the staff, the magic began. Every moment was made special by the entire staff. This was an experience worthy of five stars. I have been to Europe many, many times and this was a trip of a lifetime. Ermelinda, the manager, was always there to make sure everything went smoothly. The chef was knowledgeable, efficient, charming and professional. Salvatore, the owner, made an occasional appearance to be sure everything was attended to by the staff. Every member of the staff went out of their way to "take care of" everyone. The drivers for our tours were very knowledgeable about the history of the area; and very careful to make everyone feel safe and to make our vacation fun. I highly recommend this trip for small groups of friends to take together.
Linda P., NY
First off, you do not have enough space, as I could go on and on about how great our trip was. My mother and I had a wonderful experience. The facility was immaculate and our Chef shared his passion for food. He taught us many wonderful recipes and how to use all different types of food. (Several of us have been cooking away since we have come back to the States). The kitchen was well organized and when class began all the prep items were at our stations. They was no waste of time. We were busy from the minute we stepped into class until the end. The staff was fantastic and were open for suggestions. All 13 of us didn't want to cook squid, so we approached the staff and they immediately changed the menu and printed up the new class. In our opinion they went over and above. The blend of being in the kitchen, plus the side excursions were amazing. They made it a point to pay attention to detail. I was impressed because you had seasoned cooks, plus beginners. Chef Gennaro got all of us on the same page. Simple things like holding the chopping knife properly or making us aware of frying methods made the difference to all of us. Nothing was taken for granted. Gennaro gave ample time to the class as a whole, but he singled each student out, making sure we were on track. Each and every time we entered the facility we were greeted as though we were family. Emerelinda, Daniella, Stefan, Gennaro, along the owner Salvatore made it a point to reach out to each of us. The wine, food, grounds, side trips, STAFF, hotel, kitchen, were magnificent and professional. You know you had a good time when you cried when your kitchen vacation came to an end. I AM NOT KIDDING.....PLEASE GIVE ME INFORMATION ABOUT AN ADVANCED CLASS...I WANT TO GO BACK.
I must speak from my heart. My mother is 80 years old and I asked Robyn, Richard and Karen to make ALL OF THE ARRANGEMENTS. I didn't want to be worried about a thing. The entire staff took care of all the details. We felt that all details from meeting us at train stations, airports, or the ports--were handled in a very professional manner and went down without a problem. The Staff booked all of our excursions and hotels and we could not nearly do half the job the staff did. You made memories for us.
Lorrae F., FL
I wanted to take the time to write and give you feedback on our recent excursion with The International Kitchen. First, I want to thank you for all you did prior to the trip to ensure that we had a relaxing and hassle free trip. I travel frequently and have used many different tour companies, and I want to let you know that my experience with The International Kitchen was by far one of the best ever. And much of that had to do with the hard work and attention to detail on your end. So thank you very much. You were absolutely accurate in all of your accolades about the hotel. The room was wonderful, the villa extraordinary, and the personnel incredible. I want to specifically mention Ermelinda. From the moment we arrived she was very enthusiastically attentive to every need and detail. Extra efforts such as changing our trip to Capri to make sure we could go on a day that was sunny were very appreciated. Her smile and friendly attitude are a very valuable asset to the entire experience and you should give Salvatore the positive feedback, as I know she is new. I feel I made a new friend for life! What can I say about Gennaro?!? He was fantastic. We learned so much and my husband had so much fun "playing in the kitchen" with him. His attention to effective communication was so important and of course, his knowledge is incredible. Not being new to Italian cooking, I know when someone is good, and Gennaro is very good. He is also a great teacher. He personally connected with every person and made each of us feel so special and never foolish with our attempts to create our culinary works of art... In conclusion, I again want to say that this was an awesome experience...I am so thankful to now know about your company and will not only recommend it to many of our friends and family, but will surely be using you again. My husband had such a great time that he is already planning our next "cooking vacation!"
Vicky J., CO
I travel to Italy every year. This was my 15th trip and it was by far the best vacation of my life. From the minute that Ermelinda and her staff greeted me at the front desk I felt as if I was with family. The chef was amazing, funny and gracious and all of the staff including our wait staff, Stefano and Danila were warm and accommodating. The property is beautiful and immaculate and the owner Salvatore has done a great job of hiring the right people. It is very apparent that they understand what "hospitality" means and that every detail is attended to. I will absolutely book another vacation through International Kitchen, hopefully next year, and would be happy to be a recommendation for prospective clients, particularly solo travelers. It was the perfect solution for me and well worth price.
JoAnne B., NY
From the moment of our arrival in Naples until our departure every aspect of this trip was beyond our expectations. The hotel was beautiful. The staff was wonderful and attentive. The food was excellent at the hotel. The excursions we awesome. Having lunch at Rosa's home after making cheese was a once in a lifetime experience. Visiting the ruins of Pompeii with the guide was incredible. Our driver Tony was the best and his tour of the Coast was perfect. We are experienced travelers and this trip was one of the best. We look forward to booking another vacation with your Company. Rest assured we have and will continue to tell all of our friends about this wonderful vacation and how first rate the entire experience was.
Theodore S., PA
This trip went perfectly. It was a celebration for a 50th birthday and carefully chosen. We have traveled quite a bit in Europe and none of our accommodation has ever been as clean as the relais. Georgeous flowers in our suite and wonderful spa products to use. The staff were superb! They remembered how we liked our coffee at breakfast and even our names! ... We had 6 in our group and all of us really liked being together. Most of the skills needed were basic and those who did not know how to do something were quickly shown. Our exucursion to Rosa's will forever bring a warm memory. Such a welcoming family. Now, to order the olive oil! The calamari experience was really funny and we all survived! We really liked the additional tours chosen in our packet. The drivers and tour guides made it extremely enjoyable, hassell free. We enjoyed incredible weather as well. Our trip to Capri will the most memorable... I have already recommended this to many others.
Nancy G., TN
It was fantastic. We stayed in one of the new apartments and it was perfect for us. Everyone at the hotel was so wonderful... I loved the cooking classes. I am glad that they were in the morning, it gave us time to go and shower and change afterward. All of our drivers were extremely professional and helpful. The last dinner might have been the most delicious meal I have ever had.... I think Pompei should either be allotted more time or use a guide that will go at a slower pace.
[The International Kitchen] staff was very helpful. Karen worked hard to find our tickets and offered to help us with hotels, etc. I really appreciate all of her efforts.
Pamela P., NC
This was a three generation girls trip. ages 25, 55, 79. It worked out well and even though chosen by the youngest member we all enjoyed it. The hotel staff was most cordial and helpful. Our time in Pompeii seemed too short, although we were all exhausted after two hours. Our time in Capri was not well spent, probably because we had not done enough research about what we would have time to do. We were excited to go there but disappointed. Amalfi Coast is indeed a spectacular drive. Here again time was too short to stop where we would have liked to. The cars and drivers were very polite and tried in most cases to do what we requested.
Mary Lou S., IN
Everything was wonderful. Nothing was left to chance. The moment we arrived we felt completely at home. Thank you Karen for recommending this program, a true gem!
Geraldine P., IL
My daughter, Tami, and I have just returned from the most wonderful cooking experience with Carmen and her staff at the hotel. It was our first trip to Italy as well as the new adventure of a cooking vacation and the total package couldn't have been more perfect! ... We would go back in a minute and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the best of a Mediterranean Amalfi Coast cooking experience.
Thank you so much for all your assistance.
I just returned from the most wonderful perfect vacation... I had the best time. [The staff] made us feel so special every single moment of our stay. I didn't want to return. The country is beautiful, the hotel was stunning. Every single person involved with the hotel is amazing.
I loved cooking in the beautiful kitchen. I could have cooked all day. It was an inspiring trip.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I can't wait to go back
Libby E., NY
This trip was one of the best trips I have ever taken.
The Almafi Coast was fantastic, the cooking school was professional and
organized, the hotel and grounds were beautiful, the staff was warm and
friendly. We were met at the Naples Train Station and from that point
on, we did not have to make any decisions except what time to eat
We loved going to the local farm and watch Rosa make cheese and then
have a lunch cooked with all fresh ingredients. The week was capped off
by a lovely dinner at a restaurant located in the
hills above Sorrento.
Thanks to Karen for making the suggestion!Carol S., CA
One of our best vacations ever! Each night we cooked was a party in the kitchen. Good friends, good wine, and a great setting. [The staff] made the atmosphere fantastic, and the cooking really enjoyable. The facilities were perfect, and the dishes and meals very organized and manageable. The food and wine were superb, and very appropriate for the region. The staff at the hotel became good friends and were very professional. Lunches at the pool were simple, yet upscale, not to mention the views. The excursions were great, and even our drivers were fun and informative. In the end the cooking nights were so much fun, we wished we could have had more time in the kitchen ... The combination of the hotel and the International Kitchen itinerary are a real jewel of the Sorrento peninsula and Amalfi coast... Karen gave us great advice, and we found just the vacation experience we were looking for.
Eric & Donna M, NC
The whole week was a dream! The entire staff at the hotel went above and beyond. The company/ies they used for transportation were very professional and interesting to talk to on the excursions. When we arrived in Naples, our luggage, unfortunately, did not. The ... As luxurious as the accomodations were, they paled, in comparison, to the excellent staff! We truly felt they were family.
I loved that the hotel was "in the middle of nowhere" and yet an easy walk to town: S. Agata. The staff was ALWAYS attentive - anticipating your needs without being intrusive. I loved being able to sit ouside for most of our dinners. A special moment was the wonderful lunch with Antonio & Rosa after the magical mozzarella demonstration. I will never eat Mozzarella without thinking of her and it will never taste as good... My only complaint might be that we made too much food - we couldn't possibly eat it all.
Deborah & Angela, Chicago
In my first email to you I asked you to recommend your most romantic location for our 25th Anniversary.
Well this wasn't just a romantic location, it was beyond our wildest dreams !!!
Thank you, thank you, grazie mille !
This was, BY FAR, the most amazing place we have ever been to, EVER ! It wasn't just the hotel that was incredible it was all the people we met there and on the excursions.
While the cooking lessons ... were the highlight of each day, being put up in the penthouse suite was extraordinary.
The hotel is a jewel. A phenomenal diamond nestled into the Sorrento Peninsula filled with joyful people that exude warmth and charm. Our memories of being there will stay with us for many years to come.
We know our best way to thank you will be to tell everyone we know of this great organization called The International Kitchen.
Our very best regards,
Jody and Peter, Toronto
The trip was outstanding. Every detail was planned and organized far exceeding my expectations. The hotel is a beautiful small hotel and everyone there went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, enjoy their country and the cooking experience... The International Kitchen and especially their representative, Peg, did an excellent job during that week which was organized and put together so exceedingly well and helping me to arrange an additional week in Italy with my husband. I would recommend The International Kitchen programs to anyone and hope to do another trip in the future. Thank you!!!!
Suzy S., Ridgefield, CT
I just returned from San Agata.... I am still in a state of bliss about the magnificent week I spent... My time there was as good as it gets. Great friends, great food, great wine, great learning experience, great expeditions to absorb the cultural highlights of the surrounding countryside, luxurious accomodations, and the highest standard of service... This program sets a new standard of excellence in culinary experiences. Congratulations and thank you.
A special word of appreciation for Peg. She is one of your most valuable assets. Her command of the Italian language. Her understanding of the Italian history and culture. Her intelligence. Her sophistication. Her service orientation. Her ability to keep everything on a positive note. Her deft ability to herd cats. Her unflappable temperament. All of these qualities add value and make a huge contribution to the success of the program. She is a gem. This talented professional earned our profound respect.
My compliments to the chefs of this program.
A+ trip all the way. Hotel was spectacular, and the balance of cooking, sightseeing, hanging around was just right... I loved, loved, the breakfasts and our room overlooking the gardens and in the distance, the water. Peg did a good job of squiring us around and her Italian was a nice plus. Felt very coddled, which I guess is what you should feel on such a trip.
The visit to Antonio and Rosa was a highlight, last night had an olive oil tasting comparing theirs to my brand here in NY and theirs was much smoother, better aftertaste.
Really fun getaway vacation -- the women only theme was great. Thanks so much.
Janice B., NY
We chose the week as a family vacation-my husband, 21 year old son and myself. The cooking classes, while not challenging for me as an experienced cook, were a perfect combination of learning for the guys and delight for me to watch them gain confidence in the kitchen.
The hotel and the staff were amazing. Never have we been treated with such care to our every need. Our very experienced driver, Antonio, was waiting for us each day to escort us on our next adventure. He was delightful to be with and we felt very safe with him as he navigated the challenging traffic of Southern Italy.
We enjoyed all of our excursions, though I think our favorite was our day with Rosa and her son, Antonio, at their home. We felt that the personal attention and opportunity to be a part of Rosa's mozzarella making and touring around the property with Antonio (not to mention the limoncello) was something we never would have had access to otherwise. ... All in all our week was magical and I am recommending it to all my friends. Thank you for putting together a wonderful program. It was really a special way to experience Italy.
Lori B., OR
From the moment we arrived, we knew we had found a most special place... The cooking experience was fun, fun, fun. My husband (who has cooked twice in 25 years) had a marvelous time. Each day had something new and different to do without being overwhelming. We were never tired but felt we accomplished so much during the day!
My friends and I felt it was a life-changing holiday.
Michelle O., New Canaan, CT
This was a fantastic experience!... Our only regret was that due to our other travel requirements we were only able to do the short version and missed the last day and a half! We have received e-mails from the other "students" along with photos. We will (and have) recommended the cooking school to others and feel it was the best part of our 2 week trip to Italy.
We really loved meeting "Mama Rosa" and Roberto, learning how to make the best mozz[arella] we have ever tasted and look forward to completing the lemoncello we brought back with us. We look forward to trying the recipes and skills we learned at the school.
Tom & Lynn W., Austin, TX
There is nothing I did not like about this trip. It was a fantastic experience. It was one of the best vacations I have ever taken. Our every need was tended to, even those we did not know we had... The group we had was fantastic. They were people from all over the United States with varied backgrounds and experiences with cooking and by the end of the week we were a big Italian family, sorry to leave one another...
The property is beautiful, the setting fantastic and the hotel elegant. For me, one of the special moments was after I had asked [the chef] if she had any fresh figs and the next day before we left for the Amaalfi coast, she had for me (actually all of us - I did share) a flat full of fresh figs, the best I have eaten. The memories and food created and the friendships formed were all very special. I would have no hesitation about recommending this to anyone who enjoys cooking, even if a novice, and wants to be treated like a very special guest in someone's home.
Lucy A., Oak Hill, VA
She prepared the most fabulous trips and meals for us to prepare. The 8 other people in our group along with the staff became like family to us. It was so hard to leave all our new friends. One of our most special days was when [the manager] arranged a private boat trip for us to the Island of Capri with a real fisherman; who prepared us a wonderful lunch and gave us an amazing tour around the island. We are already talking about going back. Thank you, Thank you, thank you for this vacation of a lifetime.
Patty & Dawson B., OH
Well what can I say about our week!
Firstly it exceeded our expectations in every way. The Villa itself was just superb and the setting was magical. We spent many evenings up on the rooftop watching the magnificent sunset over the Bay of Naples, glass of chilled white wine in hand. We were blessed with superb weather the entire week.
Our room was beautiful and luxurious with large French doors opening onto Juliet balconies adorned with tubs of flowering geraniums. It was large enough to pass for a small apartment with an equally luxurious bathroom with Jacuzzi Tub.
The cookery classes were both fun and informative and all of us had a superb time. The staff is all superb and ready to help you in any way they can. They fall over themselves to make you feel not only welcome but also to ensure every request is handled efficiently. We thought they were all wonderful, including the owner.
The excursions were also superb but the most wonderful day of all was the day we spent on the Isle of Capri with our private boat.
Swimming,eating,shopping,the Blue Grotto, circumnavigating the entire island. It was honestly one of the most wonderful days ever. I will never forget it.
When we finally returned to port we were invited to join a boat procession by local fishermen commemorating their patron saint Antonio. Another wonderful experience.
Our week came and went very quickly and soon it was time to pack our bags and return to Rome.
I'm so glad I found your website, Karen, and I look forward to doing another of your courses if not next year then definitely in 2007. This time another country perhaps France. I'm sure you have many other venues as good but I'm sure it would be hard to beat on all counts!
Thanks again Karen. It really was one of the highlights of our trip and I haven't stopped taking about it. I hope some more Australians will take our recommendation and use your company for their next vacation.
We had a great trip. The place was gorgeous, the town was fun, and most importantly the people there were sincere and welcoming. I got a lot out of the cooking classes, and the special tours set up for us were all very well done. It was awesome.
Sara O., NY
It could not have been better--from the moment we arrived the attention and service was perfect. Every moment we spent in the kitchen was fun and filled with energy... We have already used several of the recipes we learned and told wonderful stories to our friends and family. The Inn is like heaven, the views are extraordinary and the staff is he best.
Mark & Barbara B., IL
In a word "fantastico"! From the minute I drove up the drive way leading to the hotel I knew I had found my heaven on earth. The hotel and surrounding grounds were lovely. Just the exterior of the facility took my breath away. Before I entered the hotel I could feel the cares of my everyday life disappear... The interior of the hotel was beautifully furnished. The room, it's bath tub and most importantly, it's private terrace were incredible... I just don't know what was better: the hospitality, incredible service and authenticity of the staff, the other guests, the cooking lessons, the sightseeing excursions or the immediate rapport and camaraderie felt within my cooking - travel group. All I can say is I am saving up my euros and counting the days until I can go back!
Jill Y., CA
The classes, and the instructor were just wonderful. The number of participants was exactly right. We had eight in our group. The hotel was welcoming, and the staff warm and attentive. I personally liked the fact that I was doing several things that I had never tried before.
The menus were not too difficult to create, and I have already made some of them since our return home.
I had the most difficulty making the pasta. I think if I could have done it a second time then maybe the cosistancy would have been better.
We enjoyed meeting our classmates, and having the time to get to know them during class...
Sonnie & Bill D., Bethesda, MD
From the moment we arrived at the hotel, the wonderous staff greeted us with offers of refreshments and comfort after our long journey. We knew immediately we were in for a treat, the setting gorgeous, the Relais refined and the accomodations superb. Our delight continued with cooking classes which taught recipies that can be replicated at home with ease. The classes themselves were a joy.... The side trips were wonderful as well as the planning of our activites inclusive with our very own driver. We could have not dreamed of a better experience, truly polite people and our time spent in Southern Italy has its own special place in our hearts. We will always remember this as one of the truly great vacations of a lifetime. Thank you again!
Elaine & Amanda B., Coral Gables, FL
The setting was beautiful, the service topped anything else I have ever experienced, I hated to leave... I learned alot about cooking technique. Our group of six was a great, diverse mix that had fun together. Accomodations were excellent, staff so attentive, the excursions great, esp. Rosa 's mozzerella making, the private boat to Capri. I would happily return.
Marleen F., WA
The combination of cooking and touring was perfect. I loved the visit to the farm and the trip to Capri. The hotel was comfortable, the staff was attentive and the scenery was beautiful. It doesn't get any better than that.
Nina C., NJ
When I first phoned International Kitchen to inquire about booking a trip, I explained I was very confused because there were so many fabulous choices and I was wanting to "narrow down" the choices. So I requested a recommendation for a couple wonderful places. This program was suggested and described to me as having a quality that was indescribable but should be experienced. I now know what that quality is... As if the surroundings, views, charm of the hotel itself, fabulous wine, interesting cooking classes and just plain fun weren't enough, [the staff] really made this trip over the top for me. I have traveled and been to many wonderful locations but this experience will never be forgotten... As I drive around every day (listening to Boccelli) I am flooded with fond memories of that week.
Marybeth P., AZ
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed my perfect week. The hotel is lovely and the Cooking Classes were so much fun- I learned so much! All of the people at the hotel made our stay wonderful! But, most of all, it was your warmth, sense of humor rest for life that made us feel as if we were visiting good friends and not just guests at a hotel. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful sprint-all the best! Arrivederci e Mille Grazie!
This is a piece of heaven right here on hearth. Your creation warms the hearts and souls of chose of us fortunate enough to share a portion of your dream. As a world traveler with many years of experience, you may trust that you are way up there with" The Best of The Best" With many wonderful memories, and a trace of sadness upon leaving.
John M., MA
Fantastico! You've thought of every detail and created a wonderful Paradise here. I'm spoiled for future trips to Europe. Cooking with you, was such a great experience. Thank you for shaving your time, knowledge and smile with us! All the staff was great, beyond great. Mille grazie!
Madelene T., VA
Thank you for sharing your home, your cooking and your passion for life. You have the most beautiful smiles in all of Italy.
Thank you for a fabulous holiday. You and your staff are the best! The cooking classes were marvelous, the excursion fantastic + the service at the hotel un-matched by any. It was a true joy. Definitely 5 stars.
Thank you for a wonderful vacation! You and your staff have been great- we felt night at home and had such a fun time! The service was amazing and the cooking classes were a blast. Thank you for taking great care of us making us laugh! We will send you some pictures. Best wishes!
Amy & Gus B.
We wanted you to know that our week with you was the most wonderful vacation ever. We have traveled and been all over the world, but nothing compares to our stay with you. The rooms were beautiful and comfortable. The chef was charming and great fun to cook with. Carmen and Giovanna took care of all our needs and always with a smile. Paulo and Giovanni were always ready with a gin and tonic or cappuccino. And finally, Maria and Lena kept us from making too much of a mess. This will remain in our memories and hearts forever. I can only hope that we might be able to return one day.
Beverly M. & Les R.
This trip has given my friends, family and myself a truly extraordinary Italian vacation. One of our favorite days here started with a wonderful breakfast. We then traveled to Rosa's fabulous kitchen and she showed us how to make mozzarella cheese. We then went to her son's olive oil press, where he showed us how to press olives. Then off to Pompeii for a wonderful walking tour with a pizza snack on the way back. After a glass of wine in front of the fire, we entered the kitchen to learn how to make gnocchi, and then made dinner using the fresh mozzarella from the morning. Other highlights were the pizza party and the pasta making. We have all been to Italy before, but staying with you and experiencing Italy through an Italian kitchen has been unforgettable.
Lorie B & Jeff Y, San Francisco, CA
This was the trip of a lifetime. The hotel was beautiful, the staff went out of their way to ensure that our every need was met, and the cooking classes were amazing. Every dish that we prepared was wonderful and presented in a way that I am sure I will be able to reproduce the recipes at home easily. Not to mention the experience of making mozzarella and experiencing the area with local guides, it was the best. Guidebooks and photos do not do the Amalfi Coast justice. It was one of the most beautiful and charming places I have ever been. I did not want to come home...
Shelly K., MN
Most relaxing and enjoyable trip I can remember--and I learned alot as well. I think I would change one thing--put the Neopolitan show on Thursday nite so the final night is less structured. I must say, however, that it was great in every way. We were talking and said we didn't know what you could improve to make it better, it was that good.
Maureen G., CT
This trip was unbelievable!!! It far exceeded my expectations. Everything about the trip was excellent. The Villa was absolutely beautiful and the rooms, eating areas, sitting areas, etc. were all gorgeous. From the minute we arrived the staff was friendly, professional and attentive. I felt like my every need was anticipated and taken care of. The food was outstanding. The cooking classes were outstanding and so much fun! ...Special thanks as well to Luisa, Luigi, Paolo, Joanna and Augusto - all were excellent. The daily excursions were all fun. The sights were beautiful. I just can not say enough about this trip!!! I would love to go back.
Terese D., NJ
It was an outstanding experience. I cannot say enough about the wonderful hospitality, the dedication to you and your pleasure, and heart-warming attitudes the whole team possesses. The complete program (cooking, socializing, sightseeing, interacting with the people of the towns) is well planned and gives you a well-rounded experience of the region. Attendees should not worry about hidden costs or surprises at check out. Everything outlined in the itinerary is covered in total.
Linda S., NJ
I'd like to start by saying, this was the best vacation of our lives. The hotel is a five star hotel with a four star rating. Every member of the staff was warm hearted and friendly, and totally dedicated to our needs and well being. The rooms were large and comfortable, especially compared to the so-called four star hotel we stayed at in Rome. The general manager was extremely competent, resourceful, and accommodating. Whenever we made a request, or a scheduling change was necessary due to weather or some other reason, she handled all with speed and good nature, always exclaiming, "It's nothing!" when we thanked her. The cooking lessons were just what we had hoped them to be. Nothing too intense, (after all we were on vacation) but informative and easy to execute. I'm happy to say, Christine and I are quite competent now in producing a variety of delectable dishes we would be proud to serve anyone. Our boat tour to Positano was wonderful, our host Antonio piloted the boat to the picturesue little town, and later stopped at a cove where we swam in the Mediterranean and had an expertly prepared lunch. Our favorite tour was of the Mozzarella Factory, I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Suffice to say, don't miss it. Being Italian-American, this vacation awakened feelings in me long hidden. Personality traits that I have are prevalent in Southern Italy. I felt like I was among my own kind at last. I want to go back.
Thomas & Christine L., NC
I can't imagine a more perfect way to celebrate a special birthday. The "Ciao Chows" are a group of eight women that for two decades have enjoyed adventure, food, travel, new experiences and extreme friendship together. The International Kitchen experience enabled us to do everything we love on one trip! The staff at the magical hotel treated us like long-lost family. The villa is like something out of a fairytale and the food and wine were spectacular. Our tours of the Amalfi Coast, Pompei, and Rome were so well orchestrated that we saw more in one week than we could have possibly experienced in a month on our own. And with a group of eight opinionated women, it was wonderful that this all-inclusive trip took all of the decision-making out of our hands-all we had to do was show up, eat, drink and take pictures! The opportunity to spend time with Rosa and Antonio on the family farm was about much more that just making mozzarella...it was a rare chance to experience their way of life. The same is true of the many local shop owners and artisans that we were introduced to in Sorrento. This trip was fabulous beyond anything I could have imagined---don't turn 50 without it!
Candis K, CA
There is not room enough to tell you how wonderful this trip was from beginning to end. The accommodations were superb, the staff at the hotel bent over backwards, yet they make it look pleasant and easy. Just charming... The excursions covered all the things i wanted to do and i felt safe and taken care of. I had not a worry ~ and that let me enjoy every moment of my first trip to Europe.
Madelene T., VA
We were very pleased with the hotel, the hotel staff, the tour drivers and Chef Carmen. All of it exceeded our expectations. The hotel location was fantastic. The cooking classes were interesting, well presented and not too intense. The tours during the day were very good too. We liked visiting the farm that produced cheese, olive oil and limoncello. Antonio and his mother were awesome. The only odd event was the dinner at the Michelin 5 star restaurant. The staff toured us though the wine cellar, showed us great wines and then proceeded to serve us the same 80 point wine with each course for Michelin 5 star dinner. Although the food was good, it was memorable nor was it the best of meals we had during our visit to Italy. In fact, after dinner, the group went to the Gringo Bar in S. Agata to have a hamburger and fries.
The International Kitchen staff is great and very responsive.
Mark W., CA
Chef Carmen is not only an excellent chef, she is a wonderful teacher. It was truly a learning experience. I will use all of the skills she taught us. Probably two of the most interesting things were that I could actually clean a sea bass and a squid. The dishes we made from them were fabulous. The hotel was spotless and very comfortable. Chef Carmen's staff was very helpful and friendly. I realize that a great part of the trip was the other people in the class. It was such a diverse group but wonderful people to spend a week in Italy with. Everyone traveled well together and were extremely thoughtful of everyone in the group. I would highly recommend this trip to any one of my friends.
The program packet could not have made it any easier. We had everything we needed.
Richard and Karen were very helpful in making arrangements for us. They made our connecting flight in Italy and also our hotel arrangements in Rome. They worked out perfectly.
Patricia H., PA
Carmen was the best part - her depth of knowledge, commitment to every detail of our experience, and her marvelous personality. I would recommend this vacation to anyone interested in cooking. The 'day at the farm' with Rosa and Antonio was fabulous although the Pompeii excursion was important in my choice of this trip. My only complaint was the Amalfi Coast day in that we did not have enough time in Ravello. I am a passionate gardener and my son and I had to RACE to see (glimpse) the two magnificent gardens there. We easily could have left an hour earlier that day and had more time in both Ravello and Amalfi.
The International Kitchen was very helpful in making arrangements for train/plane to and from Naples.
Madelene C., GA
We were very pleased with the hotel, staff and Carmen. The trip to the lemon "farm" was wonderful as our host was a fascinating man and we are both making limoncello as we speak. Carmen was wonderful in every way and her recipes were easy to follow. Again, we have both already recreated them at home. Our transfers were fine too and we enjoyed exploring the Amalfi Coast and Capri. Our only disappointment was our last meal where we were transported 30 minutes away to a restaurant with no other guests and relatively un-spectacular food. We had requested earlier in the week to go to Don Alfonso's [note: meal not included in itinerary] but were steered to this restaurant which was forgettable at best. I shared that with Carmen. we would have preferred to just eat in town if we could not get into Don Alfonso's.
Bonnie P., MD
Wow! This was our reaction from the first drive up the lane to Oasi Olympia to the last trip down on departure day. Our vacation encompassed the culture, surrounding sights, interaction with locals and a culinary experience with attention to detail. Of course, the element that makes this work is the personal touch. Chef Carmen makes the trip to the Amalfi coast the success that it is. I still hear in the back of my mind her voice saying,"piano, piano," as we proudly kneaded our ravioli dough! We would recommend The International Kitchen to anyone.
Cheryl B., GA
It was a wonderful trip! Our class of 6 was the perfect size and the dynamics were terrific...younger, older, active, laid back, exuberant, passiveÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ a mixture of all. Chef Carmen is an extremely competent teacher and has a very upbeat, candid, comical personality that kept the atmosphere light and joyful. Chef Carmen and her staff were ever mindful of my niece being lactose intolerant and made accommodations for this whether we were at the school or on day trips. Our trip to Capri was marvelous as was the Pompeii visit. The visit to the cheese farm/lemon orchard was very informative and enjoyable. The hands-on cheese making adventure in the kitchen was great fun. The day spent visiting the pasta and chocolate factories was not of much value and might have been replaced with another cooking class and perhaps visiting a local farmer's market. Of course dining out at the Michelin 2 Star restaurant was a dream come true for us foodies. Karen was right to encourage us to take in this experience. Thank you to The International Kitchen staff for your exceptional, personable service.
Gail W., Canada
My cooking vacation at Hotel Oasi Olimpia Relais was by far the best part of my trip to Italy. I did a lot of research trying to decide where to go for my cooking classes and I am so glad I chose Chef Carmen's! The location was fabulous, the hotel was perfect and Chef Carmen and her staff made the entire program fun and interesting. The excursions were wonderful, Amalfi Coast, Capri, exploring the small town of Sant Agata, watching handmade mozzarella made and touring the pasta factory. This was the perfect blend of cooking, excursions and relaxing on the magnificent grounds of Oasi Olimpia. I would recommend this trip to anyone, couples or singles of any age.
Kate B., MS
The boutique hotel and cooking school were in an amazing location, the staff was wonderful, helpful and super friendly. Carmen, the chef and instructor, is an amazing happy, positive karma person and is very patient with instructions and direction. She is also very friendly and funny. Her connections within the Sorrento area allowed us to have experiences that would not have been possible on our own.
The program packet: Exactly what I needed to know - there were no questions that I had before arrival.
[The International Kitchen staff] were very helpful since I was taking a train from Rome to Naples pre school and a train from Naples to Bologna afterwards - they were sure that I was picked up at the train station and dropped off, and never wondered where my transportation was.
Karen M., FL
We liked: Size of class - we had 8 including us two. Carmen, our teacher. Our hotel's small size. Staff at the hotel. Tours - again, with the small size. Good guides. Visit to local growers, local mozzarella making family was great. We did not like: Dinner at a restaurant was not at par with other experiences there. It was a great experience because of all the things I mentioned above. Also, we heard and understood passion locals have about local cuisine and traditional ways of making food.
Roy and Francesca K.
It was a wonderful experience all around! Even though I was traveling alone, everyone was very friendly and made me feel so comfortable. The hotel staff and Chef Carmen were delightful, so warm and welcoming. The hotel was lovely, great views, beautiful room. I loved that there was a good mix of cooking and excursions, as well as some fabulous dinners at terrific restaurants on nights we didn't cook. The cooking classes were wonderful, not too easy or too difficult, and just the right amount of guidance from the Chef. So much delicious food every night! There was not much down time, which was fine for me but others may have needed more breaks throughout the week. That part of Italy has so much to do and see nearby and the excursions were wonderful, especially the guided tour of Pompeii. The personal touch of learning to make fresh mozzarella and having a wonderful home-cooked meal at Rosa's was also a real highlight. All the drivers were wonderful as well. I was impressed with how well-organized everything was, and it all went so smoothly.
[Regarding the program packet], some maps or notes about places of interest at the various spots we visited would have been helpful.
I was so grateful for the staff's patience [at The International Kitchen] with all my questions and their accommodating my travel schedule - that was much appreciated!
I have been telling everyone about you and how great the trip was! Thank you!
Andrea M., CT
Chef Carmen was fantastic! The pace of the classes were perfect and her instruction style was excellent - not too basic and not too advanced. The staff at the hotel was very accommodating. The fact that we were the only two in the program made it even more perfect and we were treated like family. They upgraded us each to a suite which was a nice surprise and wonderful start to the vacation. We really appreciated that everything was on time and the transportation for the excursions top class. The cooking facilities were amazing - super clean, well organized, lots of space and the food quality superb. The visit to the local farm with Nonna Rosa (olive, limoncello, cheese-making) was a definite highlight as was the day in Capri. I had a leather jacket custom made in a day! We really appreciated that "all-inclusive" nature of the trip and not having to worry about paying for meals, wine and excursions.
Charline G. and Deborah M., FL
We booked our trip for the Fall and so as it turned out the villa hotel we stayed in wasn't full, in fact we had it to ourselves for most of the week! That was so special to be in a spectacular setting with utterly devoted staff. And a chef all to ourselves!
Timothy & Belinda C., TX
The magical setting of the Oasi Olimpia Relais, charming town of Sant Agata, proximity to world-class venues such as Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast, and perfect weather (OK, you can't really be responsible for that) made our trip very memorable. But what really popped for our group of six relatives and three new friends who quickly became part of our famiglia was Chef Carmen. She is exuberant, charming, personable, quick to make us feel at home, and a terrific cook and teacher. Spending time in her sunny kitchen learning to make homemade pasta of several varieties, filet a fish, aerate panna cotta, and even clean a squid for calamari -- all while dancing to the music (literally) and sipping wine -- provided hours of great fun and actual learning. Dining on the dishes we made while seated under the stars added to the festive atmosphere. And side trips were terrific. We visited a home where limoncello, olive oil with a variety of flavorings, and mozzarella are produced by artisans; a pasta factory where we learned about semolina; and even a leather store where several of us had coats made to order and delivered within two days. I cannot say enough good things about the organization of the trip, helpfulness of The International Kitchen staff, and unique experience. This is a real winner!
[The International Kitchen staff] are first rate; I can't think of anything you could have done to improve your service.
Trudy B., IL
From the first communications with The International Kitchen, it was apparent that things would be well organized. The staff at the International Kitchen followed up to ensure that all our arrangements pre and post were taken care of. And punctually at the pre-arranged time, our transport arrived to take us to Oasi Olimpia Relais. Wow! A villa at the top of the hill, surrounded by gardens, a pool and the view of the bay of Sorrento, across to Naples and Vesuvius! Fabulous! Chef Carmen greeted us and from the moment we arrived, we felt as though her home was our home and we were in her capable hands! Nothing was too much effort! Dinner on the patio under the wisteria and the night sky was magical; meeting our fellow cooking school friends and partaking in some home cooked Italian food. Each day brought new surprises - making mozzarella, tasting Limoncello, seeing pasta made in a factory and then coming back to the Relais to make our own ravioli, gnocchi, tagliatelli and pizza! Breakfasts were heaven - the chocolate and coconut roll was to die for! I didn't realize that cooking school meant eating school too! Tours were arranged to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and Capri - nice breaks from cooking! Although the Relais was so peaceful and beautiful that it was easy just to stay there too! The week flew by; acquaintances changed to friends; Piano Piano, Basta and Alora became commonly used vernacular! And then it was over! So hard to say good bye! Great memories and wonderful new relationships! I look forward to making brachiola for my friends back home!
The International Kitchen staff: Fabulous! Helpful, considerate and knowledgeable! A great recommendation for the first cooking experience.
Lesley and Timothy S., Canada
The hotel in St Agata was lovely with very comfortable rooms and Carmen and the staff were so friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. We loved the kitchen area for the classes and the lessons were fun although there was not as much cooking as in La Calabash. I would have loved to get a recipe book before the class (like Claudio gave us) so we could write notes. We also didn't get a lot of the recipes that we cooked. I have asked Carmen to email them - some of which she finally has. The excursions were good. We didn't go to Capri with the others as we were already going there but had a lovely day in Positano instead. The dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant was delicious and then Carmen organized another night for us at Don Alfonso restaurant which was amazing! I have done 3 holidays with The International Kitchen and all have been fabulous. Looking forward to a new one next year!
Judy M., Australia
I enjoyed the structure of the course - cooking either in the morning or evening with time to ourselves and/or some organized day trips. Relaxed and fun cooking experience - not too intense. Very good holiday!
Anna-Marie W., South Africa
Chef Carmen and her staff at the hotel made this an unforgettable vacation - she is vivacious and charming, and a very good teacher. We had a lot of fun in the classes, and learned a great deal, most of which I have put into use at home already. Imagine making ricotta and spinach ravioli from scratch, or the best gnocchi I have ever eaten, or tiramisu, or panna cotta! We learned restaurant tricks for making risotto - ha, ha! - and leaned to filet a whole fish, to clean squid (and make calamari - yum!), to make mozzarella and limoncello and pizza, and, and.... The hotel is elegant and comfortable, located in a gorgeous setting with 360 degree views of the Gulf of Naples, the Gulf of Sorrento, Capri, and Vesuvius. The grounds are beautiful and quiet, with a lovely pool providing respite at the end of a hot day. The restaurant was fabulous, as you might expect with Carmen as the chef, and we were ferried around to nearby locations for activities, including a memorable meal at a Michelin starred restaurant. I can't say enough to describe the experience - you have to try it for yourself!
The staff at International Kitchen were helpful, courteous and knowledgeable.
Judith S., CA
We had a wonderful time. We enjoyed everything we did, especially the mozzarella making with Antonio and his family. We loved the trip down the coast and fell in love with Ravello. I would substitute Pompeii for the pasta factory, which while interesting, the lunch was nothing special after a week of Carmen's/our cooking. We also did a side trip to Paestum and a buffalo farm, both were fabulous.
Everyone on the staff (at The International Kitchen) was gracious and helpful, and we appreciated the pick-up at our hotel in Naples, which by the way was lovely.
Mimi K. and Kathy B., DC
I like every part of the program. The arrangement of the transportation, accommodation, excursions and the cooking classes was excellent. There was an adequate time for both traveling and cooking classes. The hotel room was comfortable and quiet. I slept very well every night. The program was well-balanced. What a relaxing travel experience. Cooking classes were great! Chef Carmen was nice. Learned different cooking skills from her lessons like how to cut fish fillet from a fresh fish, pizza making, gnocchi making etc. I enjoyed the food I learned from the classes. Apart from cooking classes, the visit to a local farm was interesting. I knew more about cheese, limoncello making also focaccia making by stone oven. A special dinner at the Michelin 2 star restaurant was fabulous. The food and wine were great. The excursions to Capri and Amalfi coast were gorgeous. There were lots of memorable moments. The driver was friendly. The ride was so pleasant. We had our last dinner outside the hotel. We enjoyed our food and wine under the sunset. It was fantastic! I can say that the team cooperate very well so that I can have an enjoyable, relaxing vacation.
They [The International Kitchen staff] are great! The week before, there seemed to be a train strike, so we needed to find out solutions for the transport. The replies were prompt. I appreciated it.
Anita W., Hong Kong
It was the perfect trip! Richard and his team were amazing at putting something together for me that met my limited travel period, the location I was looking for and then made it happen flawlessly! Carmen and her team at Oasi Olympia were just so hospitable - it was like fitting in to great family. I had only a short time, but found the location very well appointed, the cooking lessons were some of the best I've ever had - they were concise, clear, effortless and FUN. Carmen is a great chef, creative, makes the complex simple and makes you laugh and enjoy yourself every step of the way. Needless to say the location of the hotel is amazingly beautiful and I did not want for anything during my stay. The day trips to all the locations were beautiful and informative. I was able to relax and enjoy every moment with ease - Mille Grazie!
Barbara S., TX
My cooking vacation was outstanding. It was so much more than I expected. I was a little nervous about going solo but it worked out just fine. My group was small but that made it even more special. Truly an "International" experience as our group included someone from Canada, Hong Kong and the US. The hotel is quaint and the grounds are well manicured. I stayed in the Sorrento Suite which had a wonderful view of Mount Vesuvius. The weather was perfect the entire time. It was great going to the Antonio's family farm to see the lemon orchard, olive trees and Mama Rosa baking bread in the outside wood oven and making cheese. I especially loved the lunch she prepared for us at the end and being able to sample the limoncello. Of course I had to buy some olive oil and limoncello to bring home. I appreciated having enough time to cook and also tour the area. Capri was beautiful, stopping to shop in the small towns along the Amalfi Coast was a real treat. I purchased a beautiful ceramic table while in Positano that will be delivered in about 3 months. That is something I'm really looking forward to. Seeing Pompeii was jaw dropping and eye opening. It was very much worth the drive. Our driver for both trips was Giovanna. She was professional, knowledgeable and fun to talk to. I would definitely recommend this trip. Carmen, the chef really enjoys to teach and is very flexible. She made the classes a lot of fun and the food was wonderful too. Her assistants were all perfect. No request was denied. I learned so much and will treasure my memories.
Linda K., CA
I thought this was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Everything was so well organized and we didnt have to worry about a thing. Chef Carmen and the rest of the staff are amazing, Ana Giovanni and Lena in particular. The day trips were awesome, the cooking classes were great, the food was even better. No complaints at all.
Sharanya J., NY
Our cooking lessons exceeded our expectations. Carmen was full of energy every day and she was a great teacher! We cooked an array of Italian food. Carmen also provided the recipes so we can bring Italian cooking back to the US!
Kimberly, Lauren, and Claire M., IL
Chef Carmen at Oasi Olimpia created the PERFECT combination of cooking experiences AND excursions each day. The cooking instruction was fun, intimate, and informative -- Chef Carmen's warmth and passion was evident. Each participant was made to feel like the center of attention for the entire stay. We especially liked the fact that the cooking experience was not a demonstration but each participant made every dish from scratch -- with small class sizes the personalized attention was wonderful.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] Very helpful and informative.
Angela & James K., VA
Loved how detailed and exacting the cooking lessons were. Not too hard for a beginner, but Chef Carmen made it interesting enough that even for a long time cook like me, I felt I got something out of every lesson. And every aspect of the arrangements was thought out & well executed. For example, the driver, Tony, who took me to a hotel in Naples for my last night patiently waited with me at the desk to make sure there were no problems checking in before leaving me there. The extra effort counts! Especially for a woman travelling alone. The only excursion that was a little less top flight than the others was the winery visit. The wines were nothing special nor was the lunch they served. I would have preferred a visit to a pasta factory. Top highlight was the visit to Antonio's farm to watch his mother make mozzarella and learn about his operation. Also the dinner at Don Alfonso was wonderful. Chef Carmen was fantastic! A true Italian gem and very passionate about food.
[Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] I thought I had signed up for a 'women only' class. Turned out 3 out of 10 were men. All said and done it was a great week & didn't matter, but I would have liked to be informed of the group makeup beforehand.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] See above. Otherwise in all ways TIK staff were great. The extra reservations they made for the beginning and end of my week (in Naples) were fine and stress-free. Also, I got a very prompt reply to my question about tipping during my time in Italy, which benefitted the entire group.
Susan T., CA _Response from The International Kitchen:_ We're happy to hear you had such a wonderful time on the Amalfi Coast! There must have been a misunderstanding; the week you traveled was not a designated women-only week, but at the time you booked there were only women booked. Thank you too for the feedback on the wine tasting; we've passed it on to Chef Carmen so she knows.
Great experience-- The chef spoke to the group the first night and allowed us to select items to cook! A lot of fun plus learned wonderful new techniques. Great selection of the local restaurant - beautiful meal. Loved the villa! I also thought it was a great price for everything that was included.
[Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] Yes--very clear instructions.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] Yes, great response and service from the company.
Donna W., VA
This was a wonderful trip in many ways. We were very satisfied with the cooking program and the dishes we learned to prepare. Chef Fabrizio was patient and attentive and, being a native son, gave us a personal introduction to Sorrentine cuisine. Our visit to the local farm exceeded our expectations because the farm-owners themselves were so personable and welcoming. I'm sure they get visitors all the time, but the courtesy and attention they gave us, as well as their generous hospitality made us feel as if we were guests in their home and not just tourists. What made this trip a truly special experience, however, was the accommodation at the Oasi Olimpia Relais. It is a beautiful boutique hotel in a perfect setting overlooking the bays of Napoli and Salerno. The views to Vesuvius are magnificent (we never got tired of waking up to it) and the grounds are peaceful and tranquil -- truly an "oasis". We loved that the charming town center of Sant'Agata was just a short 8 minute walk down the hill. But what we can't say enough about was how amazingly we were treated by everyone at the hotel. It all starts with the owner, Salvatore, who was involved with every aspect of our stay: from serving us lunch, to cooking us dinner, to teaching us how to make pizza, and to constantly checking in on our welfare -- we felt so incredibly well-cared for. Yes, it's a cliche, but when Salvatore says he thinks of you as family, he really means it. We could have stayed for weeks. Also a special mention to Maria our concierge: nothing was too much trouble when we were adjusting our itinerary or arranging for day trips; she was always at breakfast to outline our day's activities and checked in on us at dusk to see if we needed anything. We had a really memorable stay at the Oasi Olimpia and would not hesitate to return to this lovely hotel.
[Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] Yes, the packet provided all the information I needed.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] The Chicago staff was extremely helpful. Liz SanFilippo Hall was especially helpful in confirming the details of my transfers.
Ord & Suda S., and Nuntiya K., NY
The group was just wonderful. Both the participants and all the staff. It is a boutique hotel but has the feel of a warm bed and breakfast. The tours were great. I would highly recommend this trip.
[Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] The program packet was more than adequate. When I had questions I emailed and had immediate responses.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] As I said above, the staff was warm, helpful, and helpful.
Renate R., NY
Where do I begin? The villa was lovely and the staff was divine! They bent over backwards to meet your needs and wants! Three of my high school girlfriends and I went to Italy to celebrate my retirement. We were pleasantly surprised at how nice the accommodations were and the cooking classes were fabulous!! We soon felt that the owner and members of his staff felt like our extended family. They were so kind and friendly. We felt that we had known them for years. The four of us are 69 years old and we had the time of our life. The best thing that happened was that on our last night there, the kitchen staff asked us to join them for dinner. We were so flattered and the owner even showed up to dine with us!! They also had a driver for us to take us to sightseeing tours and shopping. We have never before had the service that we enjoyed there. I highly recommend The International Kitchen and their associates. Well done!!
[Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] Yes, it was quite informative!
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] They were most kind and helped us in many ways. We went on to Florence and Rome and they helped us in obtaining accommodations in both places and also explained the train system for us.
Lina M., KY
I would definitely book another trip with The International Kitchen. The value for everything exceeded my expectations.
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] I requested Rum and diet Pepsi, it was in my room on arrival.
Terri and Kristine K.
There were only 5 of us in the class - the 3 in my party and 2 women from Arizona. Due to some last minute changes, the usual chef was replaced with one who did not speak English as well as the other. This meant we needed a translator/assistant during our classes. It worked out well, but may have put a strain on the hotel staff as one person was missing from his usual station at times. The hotel staff was very accommodating and helpful, always willing to help or offer suggestions and answer our countless questions. All the meals we prepared were relatively easy and fantastic. We received personal attention from the chef as we worked our way through making pizza dough, pasta, and filleting fish! The classes were informative yet casual. What could be better than cooking with a cup of cappuccino or glass of prosecco? The side trips were wonderful and interesting. The dinner at Don Alfonso's was very special and amazing. It was such a surprise to find this treasure in the small village where we were staying. Wished we had more time to explore Amalfi - had to cut it short due to rain. Guess we'll have to come another time!
[Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] Very satisfied. We were helped with arranging a side trip to Pompeii in the late afternoon to avoid the worst heat of the day. The tour guide booked was excellent. I appreciated the staff and tour driver sharing with us Italian customs and insights into day-to-day life.
Susan and James W., and Adrienne B., CA
We had a wonderful experience at the Oasi. All of the staff were wonderful and took such excellent care of us. They were very accommodating with changes to our itinerary and provided some of the best service we have ever had anywhere. We really enjoyed the cooking lessons. It was a very relaxed and fun atmosphere. Giovanni and Giuseppe make a great pair. We really learned a lot. The dishes are simple and easy to make and we will be sure to cook them at home. There was a nice blend of cooking, free time and organized tours. We enjoyed all of the tours and the private drivers and tour guides. It made for an easy way to see Amalfi and Sorrento. A couple of special moments were the visit to the Mozzarella Farm and dinner at Don Alfonso's, the 2 Michelin star restaurant.
Everyone was very helpful in making the arrangements for us. Adrian helped us find a hotel in Naples for 2 extra nights and arranged for us to arrive at the Oasi a day early.
Hotel was spectacular. Staff were very kind and attentive- it felt like having a private villa. They upgraded me to a suite. I feel like I was lucky because I adored my other three companions- I would worry about this in thinking about other trips to see if I could get lucky again. I liked the amount of structure to free time. There were also some nice suprises like tha the "charming local restaraunt" had two Michellin stars!
An unforgettable experience with unforgettable people. The crew clicked immediately and all expressed our love for wine and food. Learning from a true Italian chef was incredible and helped us really understand what it takes to cook the simplest but most delicious foods.
Everything was done first class. The villa is a beautiful haven with the warmest and most helpful staff. Everything that was promised was delivered. .. and then some. Dinner at Don Alfonso was extraordinary. We only had another couple in our cooking class so received very individualized attention. The food and views were amazing.