Bar Lodge area in Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto
Park Hyatt Toronto

It’s increasingly common for Canadian hotels to offer guests a variety of unique ways to forge deeper connections with the local area. And this is showing up in a wide range of forms — from locally sourced menus for conferences and special events to displaying work by local artists and collaborations with local merchants that facilitate distinctive guest experiences.

This trend is being driven by a few different factors, including demand for experiential travel and expectations around sustainable and responsible sourcing. In fact, Twenty31’s 2023 report, Top 12 Trends Shaping the Future of Travel and Destinations, highlights these particular factors as high-impact, demand-driven trends shaping the tourism industry — driving demand for new offerings that align with guests’ values.

Plus, as Accor’s Hospitality Ahead report (March 2023) notes, the increased uncertainty and instability of recent years has served to enhance the appeal of local sourcing. “Doing business in these uncertain times means hotel management faces a potentially wide array of challenges including scarcity and variation of resources, rising energy and transportation costs, and so on,” the report details. “Focusing on the hotel’s local ecosystem lets properties meet increasing guest expectations for brands who do the right thing, provide authentic local experiences, and work toward becoming more environmentally responsible in their daily operations.”

Recognizing its importance/value, Club Med has integrated local sourcing into its corporate values, with an average of 86-per-cent of purchases made by the brand’s resorts (goods and materials) being made from local suppliers.

“Contributing to the local economy is a pillar of our brand DNA. This is one of the reasons we created the Happy to Care program,” explains Vincent Giraud, managing director of Club Med Canada. “We hold dear the idea of being a part of our local community and feel that beyond the sheer quality of products available locally, we have a duty to showcase them and support the local industry.”

Beyond responsibility, the connections forged through these practices have a positive influence on the overall hotel experience. “Hyatt Place Ottawa-West guests express gratitude for the opportunity to choose and support local companies that are trying to do better,” shares Andrew Horsfield, director of Sales. “Furthermore, the property’s commitment to corporate social responsibility boosts staff satisfaction and as such, their pride in the workplace extends to how they treat guests.”

As Jason Bossenberry, director of Sales and Marketing, Park Hyatt Toronto, shares, this sentiment extends beyond leisure travellers. “[We] have seen an uptick in corporate clients that expect sustainable and locally sourced options during their experience on-property — whether it be an afternoon meeting or an overnight stay,” he explains. “The team ensures that all visits have thoughtful touches, including locally sourced amenities such as a snack-break featuring vegetables from 100KM Foods, bread made in-house with ingredients from Brodflour and tea options from Sloane Tea.”

Kunal Dighe, executive chef at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, an Autograph Collection hotel, also points to events and functions as a key area where local offerings can shine — especially given the global nature of the property’s clientele. “We work on crafting thoughtful, customized menus based on local ingredients sourced from our surroundings,” he explains. “We have created multiple unique food stations that highlight the local area, such as the local oyster bar, a B.C. mushroom pasta or risotto [station], an Okanagan fruits carving station and a local vegetable stand.”

From an F&B perspective, chef Dighe explains that local offerings just make sense. “Local products are lucrative options as product quality and shelf life are up and coming, helping cultivate a marketing strategy for any restaurant. [And,] using seasonal products will boost top and bottom-line revenue.”

Given the region’s reputation as a foodie destination, local products form a core aspect of the all-inclusive Club Med Québec Charlevoix resort’s F&B offerings. “Our Food & Beverage department features many local products, especially regional ones from Charlevoix, when possible,” says Girard. “Examples abound in the kitchen, with local cheeses and charcuteries, as well as the wine cellar with wines and spirits from local producers.”

A few examples include products from local farmers Viandes Bio de Charlevoix; spirit and beer producer Distillerie Menaud; wine and cheese producer Maison Maurice Dufour; and honey, wine and spirit producer Hydromel de Charlevoix.

As Girard explains, “Some experiences have been designed around the products for the sole purpose of allowing guests to discover the local delicacies. Club Med Québec Charlevoix’s Gourmet Lounge restaurant offers a tasting experience and menu to discover — or re-discover — the local flavours.”

Although food-and-beverage offerings are among the most common ways local products are presented to guests, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Local sourcing is increasingly represented in the decor and design of properties. As Horsfield shares, “Hyatt Place Ottawa-West features artwork from local artists, including a large mural of the Ottawa River in the lobby (by local resin artist Helen Wright), as well as wall art in the form of honeycombs (created by Thunderwood and More of Gatineau, Que.) highlighting the beehive on the roof. [Also,] all of the millwork in the main-floor lobby and bar, as well as the lobby tables were crafted by local companies and the guestroom cased goods are from New Brunswick.”

Similarly, Ace Hotel Toronto boasts a range of original artworks created by “primarily Canadian artists,” including Dennis Lin, Guillermo Trejo and Claudia Gutierrez, among many others.

Diving into the guestroom experience, some properties feature in-room entertainment offerings such as record selections curated through local partnerships. One such example, The Annex Hotel Toronto offers guests a selection of records, curated by local independent music shop Sonic Boom, for use with its in-room record players.

Ace Hotel Toronto also offers in-room listening, with its in-room vinyl collection curated by Arts & Crafts Productions — a storied independent record label based in Toronto.

Club Med Québec Charlevoix offers products from Kamouraska, Que.-based handmade soap factory Quai des Bulles, which is known as a leading producer of cold-process soap made from rice bran oil, as well as handmade, natural and eco-friendly body care products.

“We try to feature as many local products as possible from Québec and Canada,” Giraud notes. “Our team uniforms are also local and provided by HUB1916, a Montreal-based company which produces sustainable apparel from recycled plastic bottles.”

Although the benefits and appeal stack up, there are of course challenges and obstacles that can come along curated local offerings.

Chef Dighe notes, “The biggest challenge is the availability and quantity of the local product, as there is no substitute for the local product,” he explains. “For local products, you have to plan in advance and act fast,” he adds, pointing to the local spot-prawn season — which only lasts six to eight weeks — as a prime example.

Horsfield also notes that sourcing from artisanal local producers can come at a bit of a cost. “While purchasing locally is not always the most affordable option, the relationships Hyatt Place Ottawa West has developed with local suppliers encourage great customer service as the products continue to be top-notch,” he explains. “Additionally, as the property interacts with and supports local businesses, [the hotel’s embedded itself] into the community, thus generating business for the hotel.”



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