If you’re new to Santa Barbara, Caroline Connor and Eve Sommer-Belin want to be the family you never knew you had.
That’s the idea behind Craving Adventures, the pair’s new business which takes their knowledge as Santa Barbara locals to create customized travel experiences that draw visitors away from the same old Segway tour by the wharf. Before they had the idea for their business, Connor would often plan out trips to Santa Barbara for family and friends. “We really want our customers to feel like their long-lost family member is taking them for a trip,” Sommer-Belin said.
After meeting through their boyfriends and traveling together in Costa Rica, the two friends discovered a common love for full days of food and adventure. “Eve’s passion is food, and my passion is the outdoors,” Connor said. “When we were traveling, every day I would have to be outdoors and doing something outdoors, and everyday she wanted to have this delicious, indulge-yoursef meal.”
“Santa Barbara is the perfect place for connecting all of that. We have great food, the mountains and the ocean and art,” Sommer-Belin adds. She says everyone needs to do the bike rides and the wine tasting, but when it comes to really enjoying the city, those prepackaged hotel deals and the same walk down State Street can be limiting. “Not everyone comes in the same package — our business is full customization. When we do a picnic lunch, we don’t just do a picnic, we do one that fits [your] palate.”
Hoping to uncover their deepest foodie cravings and ideal adventure, Connor and Sommer-Belin get to know clients over the phone, asking lots of questions and even learning their pet peeves. “It’s a little like dating,” Connor said.
The company has been spreading the word by telling friends, talking to restaurant owners, and wooing potential contacts with homemade cookies.
“Our business prides itself on finding the right guides — who’s the right kayak guide? Who’s a great paraglider?” Connor said. “Getting to know business owners, getting to know restaurant owners, so we can do what our clients want to do — learning to make a chocolate truffle, or learning to kill and pluck a chicken, if that’s what they want to do.”
Having launched their Web site this April, Craving Adventures is still “brand spankin’ new.” But the two hope that, with the heart of the summer vacation season approaching, more visitors will ditch the tandem bikes, and look for their own, personal Santa Barbara experience.
To book an adventure or find out more, visit their Web site at cravingadventures.com.