Locally sourced food and sustainability often go hand in hand, and these trends also can help hotels create a higher level of interaction with guests.
Six Senses Zighy Bay in Musandam, Oman, a pioneer in growing its own organic produce to support its holistic farm-to-table philosophy, has seen first-hand what rewards a hotel can reap from an onsite garden. To take advantage of that, the hotel has expanded its Dibba Farm to make full use of the more than six-acre property.
In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, the resort has introduced livestock, including two milking cows and a herd of goats for cheese and yogurt production, as well as a brood of laying chickens.
The farm grows a variety of produce including tomatoes, chilies, broccoli, cauliflower, dates, basil, cabbage and watercress. With this freshly picked produce, guests can learn how to make tasty salads and omelets with help from the chef. Other family-friendly activities on the farm include learning how to make charcoal, planting herbs, collecting eggs and milking cows and goats to make fresh cheese and yogurt. Children can also pet the animals and learn about their valuable contribution to the resort’s cuisine.
This local, sustainable culture is not restricted only to the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel. The overall Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas brand is focused on helping guests meet their health goals thanks to fresh whole food that is nutritious and delicious. In December, the brand debuted Eat With Six Senses, which represents another pillar of the Six Senses Integrated Wellness philosophy focusing on food and drink. It is based on the guiding principles of natural ingredients, local and sustainable, and less is more, helping guests to reconnect with food safe in the knowledge that it’s good for them, and good for the world around them.
Resorts with expansive grounds are not the only properties that are joining the movement. Urban hotels, such as the Westin New York Grand Central, where chef Brian Wieler created a garden for vegetables and herbs on the high-rise’s rooftop, also are on board. Since the rooftop garden opened at the Westin, it has grown from four vegetable beds and four whiskey barrels (for herbs) to 12 beds and nine barrels.
In the Windy City, executive chef Daven Wardynski created a garden with 15 raised beds on the fifth floor sundeck at the Omni Chicago Hotel. When he transferred to the Omni Amelia Island resort in Florida, he had an opportunity to create a full farm as part of the resort’s Sprouting Project.
These moves are backed up by research: The National Restaurant Association’s 2018 “What’s Hot” report, based on a survey of 700 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Foundation, identified “hyper-local” sourcing as the No. 1 culinary concept on restaurant menus in 2018 — a category that embraces everything from restaurant gardens to onsite beer brewing and house-made items. Also high on the list of hot culinary concepts at restaurants in 2018: locally sourced meat and seafood (No. 5) and locally sourced produce (No. 6)
According to the NRA, nearly eight in 10 tableservice restaurant operators, and a similar proportion of fast-casual operators, report that consumer interest in locally sourced foods has grown in the past two years. At least half of tableservice and fast-casual operators offer locally sourced produce. Slightly lower percentages offer locally sourced meat or seafood.