PHOTO: courtesy Montage Laguna Beach Facebook page
Summer is almost here, and you know what that means.
No, not another episode of, “Which Relative Will Get Sunburned the Soonest?”
That will inevitably be a part of your summer, of course, but I’m talking about relaxing with some fine food and a cool beverage.
Hotels—and the restaurants within them—are always looking for new ways to serve their guests. And while creative and mouth-watering dishes will never go out of style, serving the guest has taken on a whole new meaning these days.
Guests want to be involved in the cooking process now. They want to be offered something new that transcends the restaurant space, gets them out into the world and/or gives them a story to tell their friends and family members.
Here’s a look at some of the latest food and beverage trends as we experience what summer has to offer us this year.
The Entire Foodie Experience
We already know that the foodie trend is alive and well, where guests travel to destinations to taste truly authentic cuisine.
But some hotels out there are taking it a step further.
Now, foodies can get an inside look at the chef’s entire experience in delivering a dish, from start to finish.
The Marti Istanbul Hotel features the "Taste of Istanbul" experience, where guests can travel to the city's famed bazaars and markets with the hotel's chef to shop for spices and ingredients for a traditional Turkish meal. After the trip, guests will learn to prepare the meal at the hotel. Different meals are featured depending on the season.
Chebeague Island Inn—located off the coast of Portland, Maine—delivers the "Lucky Lobstering" package to guests. Join local legend Captain Jedediah Spear for a two-hour journey around Casco Bay aboard Captain Spear's Sea Nile. Guests will be able to catch their own lobster and enjoy their lobster back at the hotel, complete with all the fixings and wine pairings.
And for you foodies itching to go to the Caribbean, Hotel Guanahani & Spa in St. Bart's allows you to go deep-sea fishing for your dinner. Cap it off with a meal overlooking the ocean in your private villa. Not too shabby.
More and more hotels and resorts are offering luxury picnics for guests (no more turkey and mustard sandwiches from Dad).
Trump International Hotel & Golf Links Doonbeg, Ireland is featuring the Classic Links Basket, which includes a shellfish platter, foie gras, artisan cheese, champagne and more.
The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia offers Picnic Lunch for Two, complete with six courses including house-smoked salmon sandwiches on salt crusted rye bread, Virginia country ham on chive biscuits and salty oatmeal cookies.
For those into Swiss cheeses and chocolates (who isn’t?), Gstaad Palace's new picnic area features views of 1,200 trees planted to commemorate the hotel's 100th birthday in 2013.
At Caneel Bay in St. John, USVI, guests who order in-room breakfast receive an additional early-morning picnic featuring a wide selection of bagels, pastries, eggs cooked to order, hot oatmeal, cereal, bacon, lox, capers, fruit, coffee, juices and more.
You’ve heard of gourmet pancakes.
But what about gourmet toast?
The latest sensation to sprout from Instagram, gourmet toast is now a full-fledged craze throughout the nation.
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, features Bacon Jam (yes, bacon and jam as one!).
Chef Casey Overton delivers California Avocado Tartine at Montage Laguna Beach, complete with organic eggs and garden herbs.
Toast with Avocado Smoked Salmon Spread is featured at Omni Hotel at CNN Center.
And, of course, you have Tin of Sin at The Inn at Little Washington. Tin of Sin includes peekytoe crab rillettes and cucumber aspic with American Ossetra caviar heaped on top, served on brioche toast in a blue tin.
What is this? I want caviar on my toast!
Iced tea is virtually synonymous with summer.
And, for you partiers out there, so is alcohol.
What if I was to tell you that you could have both…in one drink?
That’s right, tea-infused cocktails are now making the rounds.
Montage Laguna Beach offers a "Green Tea Mojito" featuring green tea rum, limejuice, simple syrup, soda and fresh mint leaves.
The Nines in Portland highlights the "East India Trading Company" cocktail at its rooftop restaurant Departure, complete with tea syrup and muddled basil.
For those who just can’t get enough of “Boardwalk Empire,” Omni Mount Washington in New Hampshire offers "The Prohibition" cocktail, infused with French-pressed Russian Earl Grey Tea and served in a signature speakeasy teacup.
Heck, when I was covering the 2014 Well-Being Travel Symposium in Las Vegas, Delos Living—the company behind the MGM Grand’s “Stay Well” rooms—even served up a cocktail featuring Tanqueray gin, ice tea, simple syrup and lemon juice.
Follow me on Twitter @RyanRudnansky.