2019 – The Year of Canadian Signature Experiences for Alberta Food Tours (AFT)
2019 was a fantastic year for our company. Why? Because, Destination Canada designated both our Inglewood Edibles: Made by Mavericks in Calgary and our Eat the Castle in Banff as Canadian Signature Experiences. So, that means Tourism Canada recommends them as “Must-See, Must-Do” experiences. They are recognized because they help visitors understand what Canada – and Canadians – are all about.
Magazines, bloggers and content creators also loved us this year. We ran some seriously fun contests. And, our team of 20 talented guides delivered hundreds of tours around the province. Read on for a summary of all the action.
Writer Don Nichols featured us in his Private Clubs Magazine article: 5 Good Reasons To Visit Calgary
We signed an agreement with Classic Vacations to become a preferred tour partner. Classic is a major U.S. luxury travel wholesaler. This means we hope they’ll send us lots of guests planning a trip to Alberta.
Our Eat the Castle experience was featured in a NarCity article: Ready to Eat the Castle?
Destination Canada announced our Inglewood Edibles: Made by Mavericks tour as a Canadian Signature Experience. What a great Valentine’s present that was.
We announced our Taste of Thailand Edible Escapes tour for January, 2020. It sold out in less than a month! Note to self: If you are interested, sign up early for the chance to eat the world with us. Look for future escapes to Southern Alberta, Morocco and The Maritimes.
AFT reached a partnership agreement with American Tours International. They are North America’s leading travel service provider.
On a frosty minus 37 degrees Celsius morning in Edmonton, Karen judged the “Stew-off” contest at the Boardwalk Ice on Whyte Festival . And, she had fun doing it. With absolutely no bias (there were lots of judges), our partner the Fairmount Hotel MacDonald won.
AFT garnered a mention in Britain’s The Independent. The article by Giovanna Dumall is called: A Foodie tour of Edmonton – Canada’s Most Exciting Culinary City
Our Eat the Castle tour was featured in Culture Magazine. The article is Taking a Bite out of Banff by Maureen Littlejohn.
AFT partnered with Travel Alberta to offer Business Development Tours for tourism buyers. Operators came from the U.K., Mexico, Germany and Japan to experience all that Alberta has to offer.
Alberta SHE Innovates chose our president, Karen Anderson, as an inaugural inductee. She Innovates is the Alberta Chapter of this U.N. Women’s project.
The Calgary Herald featured our Canmore Tasting Trail in an article by Mhairie Woodhall. It’s called Family Travel: Canmore In Spring Offers Off Season Benefits
Destination Canada announced our Eat the Castle tour as a Canadian Signature Experience.
Calgary Tour Leader, Kerry Miller, was a finalist for Best Tour Guide at the Tourism Calgary White Hat Awards.
Karen appeared on CTV Morning Live in Calgary to talk about our 2019 season. This was a great chance to talk about favourite partners and Alberta ingredients. She made a delicious Alberta Salad.
Travel Alberta released a fun video about our Inglewood Canadian Signature Experience. It features Alberta’s Seven Signature Foods.
AFT’s Savour 17 SW Calgary tour is featured in a PCMA – CONVENE article. Here’s the piece by Cristi Kempf: Around the World (of Calgary) in 3 hours
Elizabeth Chorney-Booth wrote about our Inglewood Canadian Signature Experience . This piece was important because both Canada.com and Edmonton Journal carried it.
July – August
Karen hosted an #EatAlbertaFirst honey-themed dinner at Rouge. It was a way to celebrate with our beekeeping mentor ABC bees’ Eliese Watson because it was her 10th anniversary in business. Did you know we’ve been beekeeping with Eliese’s mentorship for 6 years now?
Alberta Food Tours signed a deal with the online travel agency Get Your Guide to sell our tours around the world. This will really help us break into the European Markets.
Karen was featured on The Messhall Podcast with Avery Cochrane. Do you listen to podcasts? Avery’s is great.
Forbes Magazine (YES, Forbes!) featured our Eat the Castle – Canadian Signature Experience. Here’s the article: Banff and Lake Louise’s Best Foodie Experiences are About Way More Than Just Food!
Karen went on a book tour this month. The book she co-authored with Matilde Sanchez-Turri, Food Artisans of Alberta , is in its second printing. They appeared at the Dig In Food Festival in St. Albert and The Ruby Apron Cooking School in Edmonton. Later they swung south to The Clareshom Public Library and the Word on the Street Festival in Lethbridge. It’s also now available digitally here.
Karen curated a fall Alberta meets France menu on Perfectly Provence blog.
She was also featured in the Open that Bottle column by Linda Garson in Culinaire magazine.
Sadly, for the first time in 6 years of beekeeping, both our beehives died. It was gut-wrenching to see these important creatures die after a long hard summer of struggle. They died because of how wet and cold it was. There was less food and they had less ability to forage. They got weak and then got infected with mites.It was heartbreaking. We’ll start over again next spring.
In better news, AFT was featured in a Content Creator’s weekend in Calgary. WOW, did the talent of these world-class creators shine through. Here are three examples:
Cherrie Lyn Almonte created this hip video of our Savour 17 SW experience.
Nick and Zoe of Marry Me in Travel wrote about us in their article: Why Calgary is the Next Best Canadian City to Visit
Karen attended Canada’s West Marketplace in Richmond, BC and had 42 appointments with tourism buyers from around the world.
Our operations manager, Callandra Caufield, and Karen visited all our vendor partners to share our annual gifts of honey. Because we could not supply our own this year, we purchased some from the wonderful folks at Two Pine Farms. Karen also hosted our Calgary and Canmore/Banff guides at her home. And, she travelled to Edmonton to celebrate the season with the team there.
We ran our first ever 12 Days and Ways to #EatAlbertaFirst contest to celebrate the holidays with our community. This was so fun. We gave away 12 Days of prizes from our partners.
Winners got stays at the Fairmount Banff Springs in Banff, the Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton and Hotel Arts in Calgary. They also enjoyed baking from Ollia Macarons and Tea in Calgary and Sugared and Spiced in Edmonton. One lucky winner got a huge basket from the Calgary Farmers’ Market. And, several enjoyed gift certificates from Rouge Restaurant in Calgary, Rocky Mountain Flatbreads in Canmore, Made by Marcus in Calgary and Edmonton and Calcutta Cricket Club in Calgary.
The response was amazing! What a great way to reward and grow our community and share the spirit of the season. This will definitely become an annual giving tradition for us.
Looking to 2020
Here’s the thought that’s inspiring us for 2020. “If you want to be successful, don’t seek success – seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best you can do.” – Sadhguru
As we enter our 15th season in business, our “why” has not changed. We exist to support strong soil, food and people. Because of this, we promise to help you EAT the very best of Alberta’s signature foods. We will deliver opportunities for you to ENGAGE with locals to learn about our culture. And, we’ll continue to create fun new ways for you to EXPLORE Alberta with our talented team of tour leaders. In all of these activities, we support farmers and producers who take care of the soil, grow healthy food and healthy people.
Please accept our best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and successful 2020.