A special meal or stay away has to focus on the complete experience, says GourmetXperiences creator and MD James Day.

As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry for a quarter of a decade, and as an enthusiastic foodie myself, I’ve long understood that a great dinner or night away depends on many different factors. A memorable meal is more than the sum of its parts: if the food is right, the ambience is there, service is smooth and you’re with great company, it can all add up to an evening that will stay with you forever.

As MD of Gourmet-Lifestyle and founder of GourmetXperiences, I have had the pleasure of meeting gourmands, chefs, producers and independent hoteliers and restaurateurs who consistently say the same thing – to transform an average day or night out, you have to offer that extra special something.

This is how GourmetXperiences – offering online exclusive hotel and restaurant experiences – started life. We teamed up with some of Britain’s most skilled chefs, glorious restaurants and best-loved hotels to offer experiences that went far above and beyond mediocrity.

The celebrated restaurateurs and hoteliers we work with have a passion for creating the ultimate event. From the best quality, sustainable ingredients, through to skilfully prepared dishes, attentive service and restaurant design, every detail is vitally important.

Many offer extra Meet-the-Chef experiences, exclusive taster menus or more unusual add-ons as the metaphorical ‘cherry on the cake’.

We know from our own experience and research that customers will save up to spend money on a Michelin-starred menu if they know that the chef and his team have put everything into creating a first-class customer experience; they’ll splash out on that Great British Experience if they feel they are receiving value for their money.

This guide highlights some of our favourite chefs, accredited cookery schools and venues, all of which bring something extra to the table – whether that be through education, information or inspiration.

Extensive voucher customers and gourmet-lifestyle membership research found that far from cutting back on eating out or stay-cations, people are simply choosing more wisely.

The questionnaire of our lifestyle club members, diners and stay-cationers showed that – despite worries over austerity, rising food prices and Brexit – people were still spending their money on special occasions, but expected greater ‘added value’ for their hard-earned cash.

The survey also showed a clear trend towards supporting British hotels, restaurants and produce.

61 percent of respondents said they’d be taking more overnight stays in the UK this year than in previous years, and more than

70 percent said they were more likely to purchase British fare over the next 12 months. Reasons cited for this patriotic shift included improved quality of British produce, support for UK farmers and producers, and a desire to eat more healthily and sustainably.

British hotels and restaurants can’t afford to rest on their laurels if they want to attract travellers from home and abroad. The hospitality industry needs to go that bit further to offer customers an unforgettable ‘bespoke’ experience. It’s not all about price – and with rising food and operation costs for restaurants, they have to go that bit further to satisfy the needs of their diners.

GREATEST BRITISH GourmetXperiences highlights some of the best value experiences that money can buy. Search here.