Healthy Hotels

Meeting travelers don’t have to put their diets on hold, as properties step up to the plate with good-for-you catering options

By Sara Perez Webber

Red quinoa with edamame beans and sweet peppers. Kale smoothie with cocoa nibs, goji berries, yogurt and honey. If these aren’t the type of menu items you think of when you think “hotel meeting catering,” think again.

“We have noticed an increase in meeting event planners placing an emphasis and preference on healthy menu options, such as quinoa,” says James McIver, executive chef at The Westin Los Angeles Airport, which hosted more than 60,000 meeting guests last year. “Our most popular breakfast is our Los Angeles Breakfast, which includes healthy items like green smoothies with spinach, pineapple, mango and cucumber; homemade granola with dried fruits and berries; and banana, zucchini and blueberry breakfast breads.”

Not only are hotels offering healthy menu items, they’re setting a place at the table for those with dietary restrictions, making sure their vegan guests and those following a gluten-free diet can travel worry-free. Examples abound, including at the following properties:

At the Westin Los Angeles Airport, McIver offers thoughtfully designed menu options for meetings that help sustain energy levels. In addition to its popular green smoothies, breakfast menu choices include non-dairy overnight oats and crustless quiche, with eggs, asparagus, pepper and bacon. In-room dining options have also been recently updated to embrace healthy start options, including egg white omelets and fresh-pressed juices, along with a Sleep Well Menu—a selection of offerings with amino acids, vitamins and minerals to promote sound sleep. “We also have an Eat Well Menu for kids (ages 11 and under), which parents greatly appreciate,” says McIver. •

At the Hilton West Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Fla., Executive Chef Miguel Santiago has perfected an array of vegan dishes for any occasion. A fan-favorite, for both intimate gatherings and large meetings, is the Impossible Burger—featuring a plant-based meat substitute—available in its traditional size or as meatballs, with a zesty pesto topping. “Over the past few years, we have seen a great increase in guests who are vegan or asking for vegan-inspired dishes,” says Santiago. “It is very common for non-vegan guests and customers to order vegan menu items, as they find them healthier and tasty.” •

Groups visiting the Hilton Orlando can pair a healthy breakfast with a yoga class or instructor-led power walk, as part of the hotel’s Meet with Purpose program. Recently hosting the multi-day brand-wide 2019 Hilton Americas Leadership Conference, the culinary team at the Orange County Convention Center-connected hotel conceptualized a myriad of healthy food-and-beverage stations for more than 2,000 attendees to enjoy. Popular stations included vegan-friendly Beyond Beef burgers, and house-made fruit and vegetable juice shot blends for attendees looking for a natural energy boost. •

Executive Chef Criss Menassa at the Westin Cape Coral, in Cape Coral, Fla., concocts nutrient-rich, mouthwatering combinations for guests with dietary restrictions, using only vegan ingredients. Her vegan-friendly menu items include palate cleansers infused with brewed green and mint tea over shaved ice, sliders made from heme (a legume extract that mimics the consistency, texture and flavor of a beef burger patty), and immunity-boosting super shots with flax seeds, dark chocolate, and roasted beets or ginger. •