Babel chefs in the kitchen garden Image courtesy: Babylonstoren

With a continuing rise in eco-awareness comes an exciting new travel trend: edible resorts.

The United Nations declared 2017 the Year of Sustainability, and it’s no surprise that the tourism industry is increasingly looking at ways to merge leisure and luxury with environmental mindfulness. All around the world, spaces are taking farm-to-table experiences to new levels. Besides restaurants with a focus on ethical eating, there are some unique hotels that are dedicated to creating a green experience for their guests, from rooftop gardens, and on-site bee apiaries, to resorts where goats graze on the golf course.

The Werf Chef Christiaan Campbell & Sous Chef Stella Delport Image by Claire Gun
The Werf Chef Christiaan Campbell & Sous Chef Stella Delport
Image by Claire Gun

Urban farmyards

The Crosby Street Hotel is situated in New York’s vibrant SoHo neighbourhood, and although it’s on a quiet cobbled street, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a typical urban space. On the rooftop of the twelfth floor, however, is an abundant kitchen garden managed by the hotel’s head chef. The garden supplies the hotel with fresh seasonal produce, including melons, berries, tomatoes, and herbs, and there is even space for a chicken coop — home to four Araucana chickens that produce unique pale blue eggs.

While the farm-to-fork philosophy is gaining momentum internationally, local restaurants and hotels are embracing the trend with equal fervour. On our very own doorstep, Babylonstoren in the Franschhoek Valley boasts a gorgeous garden of cultivated fruits and vegetables. Guests at the Farm Hotel are invited to enjoy the Healing Garden where home-grown herbal teas can be blended and enjoyed, while the menu at Babel Restaurant is guided by what is available in the garden. For this reason, the food reflects the season — a summer dish, for example, may include fresh gooseberries, apricots, and granadillas gathered daily.

Tea Ritual in the Healing Garden
Image courtesy: Babylonstoren

Also in the winelands, The Werf restaurant at Boschendal serves ‘farm feasts’ made with ingredients from the farm and garden. The menu depends on the daily harvest, with dishes like butter poached chicken with oyster mushrooms and poached egg; caramelised artichokes; and a Werf food garden salad.

Werf food garden
The Werf food garden
Image by Claire Gunn

At Faber at Avondale, the menu centres around respect for the origins of the food, and the restaurant is sustainability-driven with a focus on organic, free range and low carbon ingredients.

Expect seasonal dishes like whole roasted cauliflower; smoked home-cured bacon with honeyed parsnips, porcini soil and crispy kale; and fermented and roasted strawberries.

Avondale Wines Faber Restaurant
Avondale’s happy chicken slow cooked leg and breast, sweet lupin, wild radish and wild mustard flowers

Pick and play

Located in St Kitts in the West Indies, Kittitian Hills has all the makings of an idyllic Caribbean resort, but there’s more to this particular space than white sand beaches and sea views. Driven by the desire to create a place that is both environmentally sustainable, and one that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local community, it’s set on 400 acres of organic farmland and each element of the hotel has long-term sustainability at its core — from the food they serve to the transport they provide.

Most notable is the edible golf course — the boundaries between the course and the farm are made up of organic crops and fruit trees, and guests are welcome to pick and enjoy the fresh produce while they play, while goats graze the green.

Hotels for bees

In an effort to push sustainability to new levels, Fairmont was the first luxury hotel group to introduce honeybee hives on their hotel rooftop gardens in various locations around the world in 2008. The project has been a great success, helping the local environment by giving bees a home and allowing them to pollinate nearby gardens and parks. The honey is also harvested and used in the hotels’ restaurants and bars. The programme started in the United States and has now extended to locations in Kenya and China. In fact, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is home to 32 000 honeybees in eight hives.

Hotel Verde
Hotel Verde

Closer to home, Cape Town’s Hotel Verde boasts a carbon-neutral stay in one of the continent’s most energy-efficient buildings. Along with day-to-day efforts at sustainability — think energy generating gym equipment, wind turbines, a grey water recycling system, and a ‘zero waste to landfill’ goal — the hotel also has a beekeeping initiative in place. The beehives are home to around 60 000 Cape honeybees, and the honey is used in the hotel’s restaurant and sold in their deli.

We love watching this new trend grow, and we’re even more excited to visit them all, so should you be.