We had the good fortune of connecting with Rhonda Macier Lathen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rhonda, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Our world is becoming a smaller and smaller place with the help of social media accounts accessible to everyone near and far. The importance of visiting destinations first hand to increase our understanding of cultures is invaluable. I can share my stories with anyone who will listen, but there is nothing better than physically participating in a tea ceremony in Thailand, making pasta in the home of a Tuscan family, or maybe learning about sustainable horticulture in The Netherlands. These life changing immersive experiences are something that become a part of who you are and how you see the people in these countries.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Culinary Latitudes Travel is the marriage of travel and fine cuisine. Keeping in line with our belief of learning from other cultures is the chance to try new dishes around the world. For instance, if you’re headed to Japan you need to start practicing with your chopsticks. Forks are not offered in their restaurants. We partner with vendors who provide you with award winning locally sourced culinary experiences. Or you may prefer a tour of the local vineyard or brewery with a wine/beer and food pairing. Working closely with chefs, restaurants, or someone who enjoys sharing the knowledge of food and drink with their friends allows us the chance to provide a free vacation to our client. We will co-marketing their group trip with them which means their name is getting noticed to all of our followers. By providing our clients with marketing materials they have everything at their fingertips to make their dream come true. As a matter of fact, here is what one can expect when working with us: *We negotiate the very best price and value for your experience…guaranteed! *We organize a virtual vacation. Invite your friends, family, and clients! *We co-market your trip with you. We will promote to our clients while you promote to yours, and we will provide you with what you need to market. *We offer free vacations with as little as 5 double occupancy rooms/cabins booked. Free air too! Use this yourself or share with your #1 client! *We will take care of all questions, reservations, air, travel insurance, and travel documents. *We offer a private wine/beer and food pairing for your group. Enjoy local drinks or share your own product with clients! (Suggest purchasing a wine suitcase for packing and sharing your wines.) There were many, many hours spent learning all facets of starting a business. It wasn’t easy but it was most definitely a labor of love. It’s not unusual to wake in the middle of the night with the next marketing idea and start putting it in action. The love of learning also helped this business survive, especially during the 2020 pandemic. It would have been easy to quit. Instead we regrouped, learned more about marketing plans, and we pushed even harder focusing on the dreams of travelers. While vacations may have come to a halt, dreams never stop! Although Rhonda started Culinary Latitudes Travel later in life, her love of travel was evident by the work done gathering groups of like-minded people to vacation with her internationally from the 1990s on. Before she was bit by the travel bug Rhonda was exposed to the love of food by a family who enjoyed cooking and eating! Her mom was insistent on cooking meals by scratch way before healthy eating was even recognized. Mom believed that fresh food and ingredients was the key to longevity. And if an unexpected guest arrived at dinner time we pulled up extra chairs and made sure we all shared our portions with friends and extended family.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When friends come to town this gives us a chance to play tour guide. One of the first activities would be to see a concert at Red Rocks! This iconic venue hosts some of the best musicians in the industry. If they are visiting outside the concert season it’s still a great place visit, check out the hall of fame and grab a local craft beer. Dinosaur ridge is also in Morrison and you can see Jurassic dinosaur bones! Next we would spend a day in our old stomping grounds of Boulder! This is a foodie haven with choices for all appetites. Before hiking at Chautauqua Park fill your tank with a breakfast at ‘The Buff’ on Canyon Boulevard. “Eating in the buff” is popular so you might want to arrive early. Maybe take a drive up Baseline to check out the views or stop at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research). If you’re celebrating a special occasion stop the ‘Flagstaff House’ on your way back down to Boulder. You’ll want to dress a bit nicer than shorts and t-shirts for this restaurant. You could also try ‘Frasca Food & Wine’ or ‘Oak at 14th’ for a superb meal a little easier on the wallet. Make sure you drive through the 400 square miles of our Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge is spectacular but not for those with weak stomachs. Estes Park is a bustling town in the summers and a fun place to buy gifts for your family. Check out the wild-life with a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. On your way back through Estes towards town you should stop at Oskar Blues for a local brew and a hearty meal. They also have local entertainment and a fun vibe! If a trip to Denver is on their list you may want to check out the whose in town. Maybe an Avalanche hockey game or Nuggets game for the sports lover, or a Rockies game in the summertime. The Denver Chop House on 19th Street is where you’ll see some of the players hanging out. There are so many great places in this town it’s best to google what the latest craze is while in town. Hard to believe that Denver used to roll up the carpets in the evenings back in the 80s. Now you’ll find something to do for all ages even into the wee hours of the morning. Colorado Springs is another day trip where you will not run out of activities. The Garden of the Gods is your chance to fill instagram with red sandstone monuments. There is also the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Air Force Academy in the Springs. ‘The Broadmoor Resort’ is famous for 5,000 acres of wilderness and the architect for some of their buildings is a personal friend. Why not spend the night so you can take in their lakes and three golf courses! Horsetooth Mountain is at the base of the Rocky Mountains in beautiful Fort Collins. This part of Colorado may be the best kept secret. There are great places to hike or fly-fish nearby and Odell and New Belgium breweries are fun stops after a day in the sun. “Harper Goff, who created Disneyland’s Main Street USA with Walt Disney, grew up in Fort Collins. Harper came back to Fort Collins in the 1950s to photograph the buildings of his youth to use as the model for the buildings along Main Street USA in Disneyland, California.” (found in history.fcgov.com) We would recommend the Colorado Room for casual fare or The Rio for one of their famous margaritas to end your adventurous day. A visit to Colorado is not complete without a drive to ski country. You’ll find each town has it’s own personality from the rich and famous in Aspen to the Quaint dog-loving town of Breckenridge. Vail & Beaver Creek are probably a personal favorite ‘go to’ with out of town guests. If you are looking for a unique dining experience definitely head to Beano’s Cabin. The best part of this legendary 5-star restaurant is the 20 minute sleigh-ride to the cabin! Due to the pandemic you should call ahead for availability and to see if they are open. With the popularity of ‘The Tiger King’ while we were watching everything available on television, the Wild Animal Sanctuary has become increasingly popular. This is about 30 miles outside of Denver and the rumor is some of his tigers have been re-homed to this educational facility where the animals are free to roam.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank my husband, Jeff Lathen, for his continued love, encouragement, and support of my travel business. Without him I would still be working a 9-5 job behind a desk. I would also like to thank my two adult children, Ashley Rogers and Gregory Maguire. They are my pride and joy who have provided me with unwavering support, and continue to help me become a better person every day.
AmaWaterways, Azamara, Windstar Cruises, Jeff Lathen