Ashleigh Sharman discovers how hotels and retreats around the country are serving up wellness on a plate.
From relaxing ocean retreats to fast-paced city hotels, what goes on the guest’s plate is as mindfully considered as the spa treatment menu itself – healthy eating now an extension of the wellness experience and an option always available.
Yet it wasn’t until I had weeks of inter-city work travel late last year that I came to understand, and appreciate, just what a wellbeing blessing it is.
Hotel brands such as The Westin and Sofitel have embarked on wellness programs that aim to not only enhance a guest’s stay but also cater to the growing number of healthy living aficionados who practise everything from vegetarian to vegan, gluten to sugar-free, clean eating in their home kitchens.
Going beyond the creation of simply low-calorie dishes, Sofitel’s De-Light concept is a wholesome, holistic approach to healthy eating for hotel guests. Eliminating processed food, each carefully portioned dish is designed to be well-balanced with the right amount of fresh ingredients from the key food groups to promote a healthy lifestyle – its menu combining the freshest ingredients with innovative cooking techniques and tempting flavours prepared a la minute (prepared to order).
“Eating healthily is more than just counting calories, and choice is key for today’s savvy and health-conscious travellers,” explains Fabrice Blondeau, Vice President Guest Experience and Operations, Sofitel Asia Pacific.
“Being on the road can be tough and our guests want to be given options to eat as they would at home. De-Light revolves around the simple yet sometimes neglected concept.”
Similarly, eating well is at the core of Westin’s wide faceted Well-Being Movement, giving hotel guests access to freshly squeezed juices and a specially designed SuperFoodsRx menu, created by doctors and nutritionists, which is both antioxidant rich and naturally low in calories.
It’s important to remember that both hotel groups’ menu options are exactly that, options – for the holiday-maker or weary business traveller may still want to indulge in a cocktail and club sandwich.
The trick is to make healthy dishes sound deliciously tempting and hard to resist. It’s about changing the perception that healthy eating isn’t about missing out, but positively nourishing your body.
For health retreats such as Carabita Ocean Health Retreat however, food and nutrition are an intrinsic extension of the wellness journey as the retreat strives to provide lifestyle related answers to psychological and physical ailments.
Situated in Casuarina, northern NSW, the Carabita menu consists of organic and biodynamic fresh vegetables and fruit, a wide variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and small serves of organic seafood, lean red meat and poultry.
All meals are analysed for their calorie, protein, carbohydrates, fat and GI content using the freshest local organic and seasonal produce – think tea-smoked salmon, colourful celebration salads, warm cinnamon chia puddings and turmeric tea. The retreat has even created an e-cookbook to help guests keep up good food practices beyond their stay.
For salons, spas and clinics, simply providing healthier options to clients could be a small enough change, keeping in mind that some may enjoy a glass of champagne and others coconut water, protein balls or nuts over chocolate truffles.
It’s important therefore to acknowledge the shift towards healthy living and what wellness means to your clients personally – from luxurious pampering to mind-body-spirit nourishment, everything is now on the menu.