Last week, we were invited to the trade show “Remote Latin America” as Keynote Speakers. Our presentation was: The Future of Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism. Not an easy task since our crystal ball got misplaced recently (-: Besides talking about topics like over-tourism, climate change adaption and transformational experiences in hospitality, the topic of sustainable food at hotels, resorts and lodges is something that we discussed at length since we care about it deeply.
Of course, we talked about locally sourced food at our hotels and lodges. Organic coffee, grass-fed beef, and hormone free chicken. We mentioned that we eliminated single-use plastics almost ten years ago. But what drives the point home many times with an audience is the phenomenon of salmon featured on the menus at beachfront luxury hotels in the tropics. Does this make sense? Is that luxury? Salmon that was caught months ago, thousands of miles away, frozen to keep fresh and then served on the shores of the Caribbean or Central America? Not in our book.
We prefer to connect our chefs with local fishermen as part of the Dock to Dish program that we now have implemented at all of our beach- and lakefront hotels in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua.
Having access to fresh seafood that is caught in the waters close to our hotels and lodges is a privilege and it allows us to make special dishes like Ceviches and Tiraditos that, yes, are a true luxury.
Of course, it is always a struggle to make sure that our seafood is as sustainable as possible. It is a work in progress. We try really hard. Of course, we never serve any endangered species and try to make sure that all of our seafood is caught responsibly. In the case of tuna, we have not eliminated this species totally from our menus but we have reduced its presence significantly over the past years due to concerns of over-fishing and in some cases by-catch due to non-sustainable practices.
So next time you see “Fresh Salmon” on the menu sitting on a tropical beach, why don’t you point this out to your server and ask for more local options. And while you are at it, ask if he or she knows if the fish was caught in a responsible manner.