From juicy dates in Oman to bubbly champagne in England, these hotels are excited to be serving top quality produce - and it's all grown on-site
The Middle East
Gardeners at work in the organic garden at Zighy Bay.
It might be located in the desert, but Six Senses Zighy Bay boasts not only an on-site kitchen garden, but also a farm in nearby Dibba.
Forty-odd organic crops are grown in scorching Omani conditions, including veggies, salad ingredients, herbs and edible flowers.
Menus are tailored around which crops grow best and include the succulent dates harvested from the 1,4000 date trees that can be found throughout the resort (you can watch the harvest here).
Because believe it or not, Six Senses Zighy Bay is actually a working date plantation, producing no fewer than 12 different varieties of dates.
The dates are harvested from June to August; two months after pollination, the colour of the fruit changes and when more than half of the crop has turned brown or black, they’re ready to be plucked. The fruit is then sorted into edible and non-edible piles, washed, dried in the sun and packaged to prevent them from ripening further.
The dates are used in welcome smoothies and snacks for guests and also included in the complimentary Arabic sweets left in each villa.
Chefs in the resort’s kitchens also use them to produce a date syrup to add to various dishes.
Amazingly, the dates are also used in the resort’s spa; crushed dates are combined with other natural ingredients to create oils for various treatments.
And any leftovers are munched enthusiastically by the Zighy goats that roam freely around the resort.
Bring the kids because…
Myriad activities for teens at Six Senses Zighy Bay include mountain biking, paragliding, trekking, kayaking, rock diving, snorkelling and more. Littlies will love Chaica's kids' club,
Chef Mathias Dahlgren at work in Soneva Jani's kitchen garden.
The dreamy Maldives hideaway that is Soneva Jani opened a brand new restaurant, Overseas, last year, along with a bountiful kitchen garden.
The dining space was born of a collaboration with acclaimed Swedish chef and restaurateur, Mathias Dahlgren, and specialices in pescatrarian and plant-based dishes.
The laid-back, al fresco dining room and kitchen boast uninterrupted views over the sparkling Indian Ocean and are a far cry from the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, where Dahlgren also runs award-winning restaurant, Matbaren, and vegetarian Rutabaga.
Dahlgren has been interested in food for as long as he can remember and trained as a chef in his hometown of Umea on Sweden’s northeast coast. He received a Michelin-star while running Bon Lloc and more stars were to come during his tenure of Matbaren and Matsalen at the Grand Hotel.
His establishments are renowned for serving food made from the best fresh ingredients and great service with a lot of charm.
On a visit to Soneva Jani, he fell in love with the location (and who wouldn’t?) and wanted to celebrate the resort’s new dining space with local seafood as well as produce grown in the resort’s organic gardens.
Bananas, mango, coconuts, passionfruit along with many other tropical fruits grow wild on the island and the resort’s organic garden produces around 20 different herbs and a heaps of salad, squash, onions, sprouts, peas and edible flowers. Dahlgren works closely with the gardeners - the aim is to become as self-sufficient as possible.
To complement the veggies, the regional catch includes yellowfish tuna, jobfish (a species of snapper native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans) and rainbow runner (also known as rainbow yellowtail and common in tropical and subtropical waters). Milk squid and sea prawns are sourced from nearby Sri Lanka.
Bring the kids because...
One word - waterslides. Soneva Fushi opened brand new overwater villas last year with super slippery dips straight into the gelato-hued ocean.
The land in front of Madehurst Lodge in southern England will be transformed into a vineyard.
The kitchens of Britain’s Pig Hotels have long been supplied by produce grown in the properties’ impressive kitchen gardens.
But in a first for the porcine empire, a vineyard is now being planted at the newest Pig. The Pig in the Downs is slated to open this summer boasting two acres of vines.
The (ever-expanding) litter of Pig hotels was founded by hoteliers Robin and Judy Hutson who opened the first Pig in southern England’s leafy New Forest in 2011. Seven siblings have followed, including this year’s new opening at Madehurst Lodge in West Sussex.
Mostly located in commanding stately homes, the Pigs are also renowned for their veggie gardens which dictate the hotel restaurants’ seasonal dishes. The brand’s ‘25-mile menu’ ensures produce that can’t be grown on-site is procured from local suppliers within a 25-mile radius as much as possible.
The vines at Madehurst Lodge are being planted on a two-acre field in front of what will become the main restaurant.
Previously used for grazing alpacas, the free-draining chalky subsoil with silt and clay, along with the elevation and orientation, make for ideal wine producing conditions.
Experienced wine growers from surrounding English vineyards have pitched in with guidance and the Pig’s kitchen garden team will be involved with nurturing the vines and eventually creating the wines.
Four thousand vines have been planted, including chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, as well as a secret experimental variety. It’s hoped the plot could yield up to 4,000 bottles of sparkling or 6,000 bottles of still wine, although the first harvest is not likely until 2022.
“The investment further endorses our complete commitment to homegrown, to local produce and to local contractors,” said Robin Hutson. “I can’t wait to taste that first glass, albeit a couple of years away yet. We will post regular updates from the vineyard as we progress.”
Bring the kids because..
The properties boast acres of rolling English countryside in which to expend all that lockdown energy and offer in-room baby and child amenities.
Organic eggs collected for the kitchens at Shinta Mani Siem Reap.
Cambodia’s Shinta Mani Foundation is expanding its sustainable organic farming projects to support local communities.
The not-for-profit organisation which is funded in-part by hotelier Bill Bensley's Shinta Mani hotel group, dug its first experimental organic farm in Cambodia in the early 2000s on a two-hectare plot 20kms from Siem Reap.
The farm grew traditional Khmer crops, putting different varieties to the test and using age-old farming methods and no pesticides or excessive amounts of fertilisers. Traditional practices such as crop rotation were employed and natural pest repellents such as marigolds were planted.
Due to its success, a second small-holding is now being developed in nearby Doun Ounn Village, which will be double the size of the first farm and will be managed by a team of three local employees.
A wide variety of crops will be grown, ranging from tomatoes, basil and bok choy to okra, corn, spinach, spring onions, bitter gourd, asparagus, aubergine, mushrooms, cauliflower, beans, courgettes, morning glory, cucumber, pumpkin, moringa, pineapple, dragon fruit, melons, papaya and sugar cane.
The harvest will be put to good use in the three Shinta Mani Hotels properties back in Siem Reap and will also be distributed to other hotels and the wider community.
The team has also created a rooftop herb garden at Shinta Mani Angkor to supply all three hotels’ restaurants and bars.
And deep in Cambodia’s southern Cardamom National Park, Bensley's Bensley Collection - Shinta Mani Wild is also committed to sustainability and locally-sourced produce. Indeed, there is a rich and plentiful supply of produce right at its feet. The chef and resident naturalists forage daily from this giant natural larder to use in dishes back at the camp.
The property has also created a large organic farm and free-range chicken run with veggie and herb gardens, a cocktail and spa garden and a plant nursery area.
The farm has been created near the property boundary with the village to have minimum impact on the surrounding wilderness.
Bring the kids because...
There’s a killer zipline through the jungle and into the reception area at Shinta Mani Wild (mini-riders must be aged ten years and up). Plus, although the property is super-luxe, it’s still a camp.