The words "organic" and "sustainable" are buzz-worthy terms in the hotel industry, with properties focusing on energy-saving installations and eco-friendly building materials. But more hotels are beginning to apply the words to their food and beverage operations as well. Hyatt recently announced the launch of an ambitious global food and beverage initiative that will drastically change how food is sourced, prepared, and served in brand hotels around the world.
"Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served." is Hyatt's new philosophy comprised of sustainable and fresh food options with a focus on supporting healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy communities.
"This project began about two years ago," says Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage for Hyatt. "We conducted some beta tests with our customers to determine their interests in this initiative. We also took time talking to our meeting planners and industry leaders as well. We really wanted to get everyone's thought process about what this could look like."
After extensive research, feedback implied that guests didn't want to disrupt their lifestyles when traveling and that there was a strong desire among travelers for healthful dining options.
"We were seeing a lot of our guests demand that companies start to look at where they were sourcing their products from and what type of items they were putting on their menus," says Santiago. "We really stepped back and did a little bit of soul searching to determine what we, Hyatt, could be doing or should be doing around the various trends we were seeing."
As part of the new program, Hyatt mandated that all of its restaurants contain vegan and vegetarian options, as well as gluten-free offerings. Portion sizes will be smaller, and food will be cooked with nutrient-saving techniques. Cage-free eggs and Meyer's all-natural beef burgers are now standard on all menus. For kids, the default side dishes will be fruit and vegetables, and hormone-free milk will be offered with free refills, whereas soda will not.
Where the hotels source food will also change with this new initiative. Hyatt has teamed up with local farmers and food-producers who can deliver fresh, local ingredients to specific properties.
"We mandated all hotels and their restaurants have at least five local ingredients represented on their menus in each meal period," says Santiago. "As we continue through this journey, we're going to raise the levels of compliance."
To keep the brand on track with this new food philosophy, Hyatt has joined forces with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to ensure the goals of the program are met. As part of the partnership, Hyatt has committed to the reduction of sugar, calories, and sodium by 20 percent in all its properties in the next 10 years. Hyatt is the first hospitality company to join PHA.
"We look at this as the accountability piece for us," says Santiago. "This partnership is going to help us achieve tangible and measurable results."
Santiago also explains that education is a key component in making this program a success. She says that chefs, food servers, hosts, and bartenders will all have access to training programs and tools through the company's intranet, which contains vendor information, videos, and ingredient resources.
Hyatt will continue to roll out this program in phases, and Santiago explains that the criteria will always be evolving.
"It's definitely a journey—one we are committed to and continuing to improve upon," she says. "At the end of the day, we hope that this will drive brand loyalty and accomplish the goal of producing food that is good for our people, our planet, and our communities.
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