Concern for the environment and personal wellness have hotels around the globe focusing on sustainability and local-sourcing efforts in restaurant and culinary offerings.
All over the world people are deepening their concern of and care for the environment while, at the same time, eating with increasing intention and awareness. What they eat, where the food comes from, and the quality thereof has become of utmost importance. Lifestyle choices and buying decisions are made with these values, attitudes, and preferences in mind. As such, today more than ever, hotels are focusing on their sustainability efforts and procurement of healthy, local ingredients for culinary offerings.
Consuming locally grown food has a host of positive benefits, including freshness and optimal nutrients. Eating seasonally, based on our geographic location, is the most natural way to eat, and one of the most beneficial to our bodies. In the peak of summer, our bodies require cooling foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and berries to help us handle the elements, while in the dark and cold days of winter we need rich and warming higher-fat healthy foods, root vegetables, and fermented foods.
In addition to personal benefits, obtaining food within the area supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint, as locally grown food has a shorter distance to travel and requires less packaging. When sourcing locally, there is a lot less over-buying, which reduces food waste as well.
Green Pearls® Unique Places, is a leading information platform for responsible tourism and for sustainable and green eco-hotels and resorts worldwide. Members are chosen based on their sustainable initiatives and green projects. Here, a few of Green Pearls food-forward, European hotels.
ADLER LODGE RITTEN
The five-star ADLER Lodge RITTEN sits at the base of the Italian Dolomites in the center of the South Tyrol near the city of Bolzano, Italy. The secluded forest resort overlooks a tranquil lake and focuses on well-being, while introducing guests to the uniqueness of the South Tyrol from a culinary perspective.
ADLER Lodge RITTEN works closely with regional, innovative organic farms. Among the stand-out features of the lodge is their “Adler Regional Partner” seal, which serves to identify products from the local area. Among them: organic wheat used for their homemade bread and croissants from the Val d’Orcia (about five minutes from the ADLER Thermae) which is traditionally ground in the artisan stone mill Mulino d’Orcia; crunchy cabbage vegetables from Val Venosta (VI.P Coop); meat from Wagyu cattle (Oberweidacherhof); tea blends from organic herb cultivation (Pflegerhof); and a variety of fruit from varied local sources.
Produce comes from Farmer Harald Gasser, who has breathed new life into more than 400 almost-forgotten vegetable varieties including primeval carrots and radishes.
Milk for cheese comes way of South Tyrolean gray cows, which graze on the neighboring lush meadows. The kitchen team and the cheese dairy Hof zu Fall (Siusi) work together to develop natural and aromatic mountain cheeses. Wine is produced in the local valley, as is the extra virgin olive oil and the Agrodolce vinegar.
Utilizing this bevy of local ingredients, South Tyrolean award-winning Chef Hannes Pignater creates fresh interpretations of South Tyrolean classics. Sumptuous meals and appetizers prepared in an open kitchen served with free-flowing wine are a foodies delight and are all included in the room package. https://www.adler-resorts.com/en/adler-lodge-ritten/73-0.html
Moving on to Austria in the East Tyrol, nestled in the middle of the National Park Hohe Tauern, is the Hotel Outside in Matrei. For the hotel, environmental protection is as much of a priority as is hospitality. So much so, in fact, that the property has won numerous awards for its accomplishments.
Serving its guests with quality, nourishing cuisine is also of the utmost importance, and Hotel Outside delivers with its innovative Alpine and Mediterranean cuisines. Relying on seasonally available ingredients as the basis for their traditional regional food, dishes are prepared in contemporary and surprising ways.
Radenko Jovicic has been working in the kitchen of Hotel Outside for almost 20 years. Originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina, he impresses guests with his down-to-earth yet imaginative creations. Jovicic is responsible for the daily afternoon snack, the evening 6-course gourmet menu, daily vegan and vegetarian dishes, and the weekly gala dinner. “Cook what the gourmet region of East Tyrol has to offer,” is the kitchen philosophy. “We want nothing less than to surprise the senses and impress the palate. And do so sustainably.”
To meet this high standard, the quality of the ingredients is crucial. Food is sourced from organic producers and from the hotel’s own garden. Breakfast comes from farmers that the staff personally know, and dealers they value from the region. Meat is supplied from Mühlstätter butcher’s shop in Matrei. The milk, cheese, sausages, and eggs are also sourced from the area and are guaranteed to be fresh with genuine taste. Host Joseph Ganzer bakes fresh homemade brown bread daily using an old family recipe with corn from Tyrol. Whatever tickles his fancy shows up in the bread-crust: sometimes walnuts, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. The hotel even makes its own habit-forming jams and syrups.
It is important to Radenko and his team that the path of the food remains traceable. “The shorter the route, the fresher the vitamins. The closer the (mountain) farm, the better the taste.” Simple as that, and so good! https://www.hotel-outside.com/en/
CERVO MOUNTAIN RESORT
Surrounded by the Swiss Alps and the beauty of Zermatt is the 5-star Cervo Mountain Resort. Founded in 2009, the hotel is rooted in environmental awareness, with ecological and social responsibility as central principles.
The resort works closely SlowFood, an organization which supports high-quality, local, seasonal and sustainably grown food production , protects unique regions and ecosystems, preserves traditional processing techniques, and promotes indigenous animal breeds and plant species. The Head Chef, Markus Kössler, is part of the alliance of the chefs of SlowFood.
The rule of thumb at CERVO is to buy everything within a 150 km radius. The ingredients are almost always local and seasonal for all four of their restaurants. The long-term plan of the hotel is to put mostly home-grown food items on the breakfast tables. Herbs have been cultivated at CERVO for many years, and now guests can pick them fresh to use in their tea. The hotel has planted trees, the fruit of which will be used for jams and dried fruit. Nuts and honey, too, will be cultivated.
Utilizing the nose-to-tail principle, whole animals are sourced for meat from a regional Natura-Beef farmer.
In the Italian restaurant Madre Nostra, Roman Davide Cretoni is in the lead. For him, sustainable cuisine is based on three standard pillars: reduce, recycle, and reuse. That means buying only as much as you can consume and recycling and reusing what is left over. “Sustainable cuisine represents a new era that also pays respect to the consumer through transparency. What ingredients are used, where they come from, and how they are prepared is something more and more guests are interested in. A conscious understanding of what is on the plate contributes to a responsible approach to food.” https://cervo.swiss/en
Meliá Hotels International is also doing its part to keep wellness and sustainability at the forefront of its hotels. Here, two shining examples in Southeast Asia.
MELIA CHIANG MAI
Melia Chiang Mai is the first five-star hotel to open in Chiang Mai since the onset of COVID-19. Close to an international airport, bustling markets, and Buddhist temples, the elegant tower boasts 260 spacious rooms. The hotel is loaded with superb facilities, including Mai, its stand-out signature restaurant and bar. Its program, “360-degree Cuisine,” focuses on sustainability, lessening the hotel’s carbon footprint, and encouraging healthful eating for its guests.
Under the 360° Cuisine program, the hotel’s kitchen works closely with local farmers to help them improve sustainability and encourage ethical production. Meliá Chiang Mai recently partnered with ORI9IN The Gourmet Farm, a gourmet organic farm located in the nearby San Sai District, to grow an array of fruits, vegetables, and herbs on a two-acre plot on the broader ORI9IN property for the hotel’s restaurants, bars, and spa.
Executive chef Suksant (Billy) Chutinthratip and Mai Restaurant & Bar’s sous chef Karn Phojun have crafted dishes featuring produce from the nearby farm and use as much of every ingredient as possible. Leftovers are returned to the farm as compost, and leftover cooking oil is sent to be recycled into biodiesel. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Mai Restaurant and Bar, located on the 21st floor (be sure to check out the view from the bar with a glass bridge) delights with a menu of contemporary Lanna (Northern Thai) with Meliá’s Spanish origins and Mediterranean influences. Innovative dishes created via a thoughtful cooking process are designed not only to taste good and nourish guests, but also to minimize food waste and reduce greenhouse emissions.
A must-try dish is the Pappardelle Soi Neur, featuring fresh homemade pappardelle in a creamy khao soi curry sauce with slices of seared Australian sirloin beef, all served with homemade pickled vegetables and chili oil. “We make the pappardelle fresh on every order, the chili paste is homemade and incorporates every part of each ingredient possible including chili, shallot, garlic, galangal, coriander root, and more. With the leftover fat trimmings from the Australian sirloin, we extract oil that we then use to make chili oil,” says Billy. https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/thailand/chiang-mai/melia-chiang-mai
MELIA HO TRAM BEACH RESORT
Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort, is a 152-room and 61-villa property located on Ho Tram beach along Vietnam’s Southern Coast, a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Opened in 2019, the upscale and restorative resort features a host of world-class facilities, including four restaurants.
In response to a shortage of vegetables during the lockdown, the resort started a garden to produce much needed food. Today, the project remains and has grown to encompass a wide variety of different herbs and vegetables. The garden yields vegetables including spinach, collard greens, bitter gourd, amaranth, gourd, loofah, Malabar spinach, cucumber, water morning glory, tomato, eggplant, and Thai eggplant, plus a wide variety of herbs. Complementing the veggies and herbs are a plethora of fruit trees including coconut, grapefruit, lime, lemon, papaya, pomegranate, passion fruit, jackfruit, mango, guava, soursop, and clementine. Sunflowers, daisies, and wild cosmos are also grown. Some of the fresh vegetables collected from the garden are used for the staff lunch served in the hotel’s canteen.
The resort is currently developing programs for guest participation with local gastronomy. Tunisian-born Mahdi Ghenam is executive chef and manages a team of 49 across the resort’s rich and diverse culinary landscape. Ghenam and his team created an eco-friendly culinary experience with its “Seafood Market,” highlighting local seafood every Saturday night at sundown at the resort’s oceanfront. Chef Ghenam and his team bring out an array of large bamboo baskets showcasing the catch of the day from local waters (which can include lobsters, crabs, squid, fish such as grouper and snapper, shrimp prawns, mussels, snails, clams, and scallops). Guests select the seafood of choice, preparation style (grilled, wok-fried or steamed), types of sauce, and popular Vietnamese accompaniments including lime, chili, ginger, garlic, onion, coriander, and mint basil. “To say that the Vietnamese love seafood is an understatement,” said the resort’s general manager Manuel Ferriol. “Selecting the freshest seafood from the local market is a way of life here handed down the centuries, so we wanted to bring that lively and authentic experience to our resort and support our local community’s fishermen in the process.”