The hospitality industry has faltered sporadically amid the pandemic as case counts and lockdown restrictions have continued to fluctuate worldwide. In the face of all odds, hotel businesses have found the light at the end of the tunnel as many have begun investing in land, cultivating gardens, farms, and orchards to support staff and transition into a more sustainable post-pandemic recovery mode.
“Over the last two years, the world has really woken up to wellness,” said Hylton Lipkin, general manager of Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion, a natural Vietnamese hot spring resort committed to health and wellbeing. “But what kind of wellness? Is it physical wellness, mental wellness, or environmental wellness? They’re all connected, and this was an integral time for us to deepen our framework to honour all the various facets of what that word means, especially when it comes to food.”
Located on the outskirts of Vietnam’s former imperial capital Hue, Alba Wellness Valley invested in a 250m square organic vegetable plot to help satisfy restaurant and staff canteen needs. With over 150 cage-free chickens roaming around on its pastures, it is the first resort in Vietnam to use only 100 percent free-range eggs.
Fusion, as a brand, has made several efforts to shift towards a more sustainable business model throughout the pandemic. On Vietnam’s south-central coast, Fusion Resort Cam Ranh houses approximately 200 cage-free chickens, ducks, goats, and even peacocks. Its flourishing organic vegetable garden and mango orchard supply fresh vegetables and herbs to the resort’s restaurants and staff canteen. The resort also boasts over 1,000 coconut trees and offers organic young fresh coconuts at its restaurants.
To further promote environmental awareness and conscious consumption, guests are welcome to hand-pick their own organic vegetables and eggs for breakfast. At the same time, children can attend a farm school during the weekend to learn how to care for animals. “It’s an opportunity for guests to learn the importance of where their food comes from,” said Dawid Koegelenberg, general manager of Fusion Resort Cam Ranh.
Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, situated on the largest island of Vietnam, has also debuted an eco-farm in the summer of 2021, featuring a diverse mix of animals from goats to ducks and a new vegetable garden and pineapple orchard that guests are encouraged to explore.
Meanwhile, Meliá Ba Vi Mountain Retreat has also begun cultivating its land in the remote Northern Delta region. “We are located in a mountainous area of the country and are quite far from local suppliers,” explained Noemi Perez, the property manager. “Our organic garden has allowed us to reduce transportation costs and the impact on the environment while allowing for a consistent food supply when the city was locked down during covid.”
The Balansa organic garden, a homage to French botanist Benjamin Balansa, has an extensive mix of kale, broccoli, arugula, radish, celery, lettuce, green pepper, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. Food waste is recycled with the property composting around 45 kilograms of organic and biodegradable materials daily.
Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort, owned by Meliá Hotels, have also started their Spice Garden to overcome the shortage of vegetables resulting from the ongoing lockdown. “We’re now growing a wide variety of different herbs and vegetables such as chilli, lemongrass, zucchini, and tomatoes, all of which are free of chemicals,” said Nishant Uniyal, hotel manager of Meliá Ho Tram. The garden will also offer guests free eco-friendly gardening activities, such as painting pots, flower puzzling, leaf crafts, and making herb-infused essential oils. “We want to engage the next generation, so they can experience gardening as a fruitful activity that preserves the environment while also providing the opportunity for getting together with family and friends.”
Over the last two years, hotels throughout Southeast Asia have shifted towards a more sustainable operating model via land cultivation and farming because of the pandemic. Food self-sufficiency is now an integral element of the business operations of many hotels and resorts.