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Thu 25 Oct 2007 03:46 PM

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The rise of sustainable cuisine

Fairmont hotels has rolled out a brand wide commitment to go green. Will others follow in its wake?

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has recently announced a brandwide commitment to using, whenever possible, sustainable, locally-sourced and organically grown products in everyday food service operations.

Fairmont has found that increasing numbers of customers worldwide are showing a growing interest in green issues. It is no longer enough for guests to not have their towels washed daily, they also want to know where their food is sourced and how it is produced.

According to a new survey commissioned by Orbitz.com and conducted by MarketTool's Zoomerang polling service, more and more people are putting a priority on eco-friendliness when they travel.

Sixty-five per cent of those polled said it would somewhat impact their decision to stay at a hotel if they knew the hotel was using solar or wind energy to supplement the powering of the building, while 63 % would pay more to stay at a "green" hotel.

Fairmont's new initiative, dubbed ‘Green Partnership' encourages guests to think green by offering healthy menus that highlight organic wines and teas, local purveyors and, in some hotels, on-site herb gardens.

But the Fairmont has also gone one step further by reviewing its purchasing and food sourcing practices to see in which areas more sustainable choices can be incorporated, both at a hotel and a corporate level.

"Our guests are very savvy, experienced diners, and they also are becoming more conscious of how their consumer choices affect the planet," notes Serge Simard, Fairmont's vice president, Food & Beverage. "While individual contributions certainly do make a difference, the actions of institutions often have a greater impact."

In the UAE, where 90 % of food is imported, it is much harder to source food locally. While the Fairmont Dubai uses only a few local products, such as dates, the hotels' culinary brigade does pay regular visits to the local food markets and spice souks in search of interesting and varied ingredients to incorporate.

It is much easier for local companies to source imported organic ingredients, and hope that the carbon footprint will not be an issue.

Fairmont Dubai carries specially branded tea from the Metropolitan Tea Company, which is committed to supplying tea from gardens that conform to the lowest MRL (minimum residue levels) for approved agricultural inputs for tea. It is also recognized as North America's only member of the Ethical Tea Sourcing Partnership.

Hotels around the Middle East are just now becoming more aware of environmental issues. Hopefully, we will be seeing more such green initiatives in the future.

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