Papaya Straws, Christmas Tree Beers and the Future of F&B

Hotels come up with clever ways to limit F&B waste.

Papaya Straws, Christmas Tree Beers and the Future of F&B

From repurposed, herb-infused lemonades in Amsterdam to “zero-mile” menus in Costa Rica, sustainable F&B never tasted so good. As hotels around the world are strategizing creative ways to reduce their food and beverage waste, guests may find that one hotel’s Christmas tree trash is another’s craft beer treasure. Here are some innovative—and, yes, edible—solutions to tackling F&B waste.

Holly, Jolly Happy Hours 

Hyatt Regency Amsterdam won’t let its holiday spirit go to waste. For the second year in a row, the hotel sent its Christmas trees to a local brewery rather than a landfill. Lowlander Beer Co. removes the needles from donated Christmas trees and brews them with juniper to create its Winter White IPA, a cheerful and bright beer with a distinct evergreen aroma to help you carry the joy of the holidays into the new year.  

Hawthorn Dining Room & Bar in Calgary, Alberta’s Fairmont Palliser sends unused, unserved bread to Last Best Brewing & Distilling where it’s used to make a blonde ale—aptly named ODB (Our Daily Bread). For every pint of ODB sold, a dollar is donated to the Calgary Food Bank.

Tropical Straws

Isla Palenque’s ban on single-use plastics pushed the resort’s team to get creative and craft straws from a plant Panama has in abundance: papaya trees. Whereas paper straws dissolve in drinks (and would have to be imported, which would increase carbon emissions), the hollow and flexible papaya tree stems stand strong.  

In Mexico, Thompson Zihuatanejo partnered with Biofase—a manufacturer that produces biodegradable products from agro-industrial waste—to upcycle avocado seeds into eco-friendly straws. The straws are now used at two other Thompson properties in Mexico: The Cape, a Thompson Hotel and Thompson Playa del Carmen.

Austria’s Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere also offers guests a plant-based alternative: sustainable straws made entirely from recycled apples.

Peels and Grounds With a Purpose

Some properties, such as Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, are aiming to identify ingredients commonly wasted in the hotel’s restaurant and then “close the loop” by repurposing them in the hotel’s bar. Each month, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht’s Bluespoon Bar creates a cocktail inspired by an otherwise wasted ingredient like an eggshell tonic and an espresso martini made from repurposed coffee grounds, as well as garnishes like edible Old Amsterdam cheese crafted from cheese rind. The bar also uses overripe fruits, stalks, peels, leaves and herbs to bottle their own naturally flavored lemonades like citrus-bergamot, strawberry-tarragon and ginger-lemongrass.

Henley, a modern American brasserie at Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Nashville, turns leftover herbs from the kitchen into syrups for the bar, and transforms lime and lemon peels from the bar into citrus ash used for cooking in the kitchen.

Kitchen collaboration is key at SLS Beverly Hills as well. Turbot wing, one of chef Aitor Zabala’s signature dishes at two Michelin-starred Somni, is served with a turbot consommé prepared using the bones of the fish. Somni does not discard the rest of the fish; instead, it’s sent up to the rooftop, where it will become finger-licking fish and chips, best enjoyed while lounging on the Altitude Pool deck. 

Mark D. Mrantz, general manager of Aston Kaanapali Shores on Maui, says the hotel incorporates limits waste by adding lemon rinds into another dish as zest or garnish after using lemon juice in coctails.

Zero-Mile Menus

The less hotels are dependent on imported ingredients, the less packaging and transportation they require, which can lead to reduced waste and lower carbon emissions. For example, Andaz Delhi grows “zero-mile” microgreens on-site for AnnaMaya, the hotel’s European food hall; Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda produces honey from its own beehives; and Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel in Costa Rica has its own organic herb and vegetable farm where a majority of the menu’s ingredients are grown. 

Over on Oahu, Hawaii, chef Ed Kenney takes a similar approach with his Mahina & Sun’s restaurant, located poolside in The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club. His philosophy, “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always,” is reflected in the Hawaiian flavors, responsibly sourced seafood and island-grown ingredients such as `ulu (breadfruit), taro and kukui nuts.

Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in Kenya is also working to reduce its reliance on ingredients that require long-distance transport. Owner Calvin Cottar is designing a foraged menu that includes local spinach and wild sage pasta, guinea fowl stew and panna cotta made with local carissa root. Guests can get in on the action and forage ingredients for the meal.

In an effort to reduce packaging waste and carbon emissions, Nomad Tanzania trained its chefs to make safari camp condiments. “We now make much of our ketchups, relishes and chutneys,” says Katie Blair of Nomad Tanzania camp F&B operations. “We no longer order items that would typically arrive in plastic bottles.”


Photo Credit: Kirsten Van Santen, Lowlander