Farm-to-hotel: 10 resorts that grow their own food



(CNN)Nestled amid the high-end shops, art galleries and traffic of Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, blueberries and raspberries will flourish in a rooftop garden come springtime.

Rosemary and sage perfume the air, while four chickens strut in a coop surrounded by a canopy of hops shading them from the midday sun.
The kitchen staff of the Crosby Street Hotel head to the rooftop to collect the eggs and tends to the habanero peppers, just a few flights from the Prince Street subway station.
In a world where farm-to-table has become a catchphrase, hotels around North America are joining the movement with their own produce-rich gardens and farms.
And it’s not just happening at hotels located near leafy pastures and fertile fields. Urban properties like Crosby Street are getting into the act with vertical, raised and rooftop gardens augmenting their kitchens’ shopping lists.
These 10 hotels are upping the freshness ante, hoping guests will appreciate the quality of house-grown vegetables and their lighter carbon footprints.

The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania

Located in a rustic corner of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Lodge at Woodloch offers health-conscious cuisine accented with goods grown in its three leafy gardens. This lakeside hotel and spa hosts vegetable-focused tasting dinners in the whimsical garden shed, complete with wine pairings.
Gardening classes, greenhouse tours and workshops on composting accompany the taste of baby greens, tomatoes and just-dug radishes.
Herbs grown in the Healing Garden are blended into essential oils for the spa’s Rosemary Awakening and Lavender Garden Dream signature spa treatments, for the ultimate in natural pampering.
The Lodge at Woodloch, 109 River Birch Lane, Hawley, PA 18428; +1 800-966-3562; Starting nightly rates are $259 (midweek) and $379 (weekend)
Back-to-the-land types and celebrities alike flock to exclusive Blackberry Farm, situated on a scenic swath of countryside in the Great Smoky Mountains that has been farmed for centuries.
The resort continues traditional agricultural practices to grow a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables and herbs that appear on the James Beard Award-winning restaurant’s menu. It’s a bastion of seasonality, overflowing with tasty root vegetables and farmhouse cheeses produced on site.
Blackberry Farm, 1471 West Millers Cove Road, Walland, TN 37886; +1 865-984-8166; Starting nightly rate is $895

Crosby Street Hotel, New York

It’s hip to be green at the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, which has a cool, cosmopolitan vibe and a garden on the 12th floor. The rooftop is home to a lovingly nourished urban fruit and vegetable patch.
It produces crunchy radishes for the hotel’s breakfast sandwich, spring greens as an accompaniment to the Crosby burger and Instagrammable pansies as an edible garnish for afternoon tea. The four Araucana chickens lay fairytale-pretty pale blue eggs, adding a pinch of nursery rhyme ambiance.
Crosby Street Hotel, 79 Crosby Street, New York, NY 10012; +1 212-226-6400; Starting nightly rate is $675

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Florida

The sprawling Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is home to the Sprouting Project, an aquaponic greenhouse and expansive organic garden. It’s an Eden of spotted strawberry vines and juicy blackberry bushes, with folksy hand-written markers adorning the herb beds.
Menus at the resort’s nine dining establishments (a tenth is seasonal) reflect the day’s harvest and bright flavors, including Satsuma oranges and figs. The prolific pepper patch includes a wide variety of chili peppers, from mild to firehouse-hot, used in the chef’s hot sauce. The dessert menu is loaded with honey-laced sweets, compliments of the on-site apiary.

Congress Hall, Cape May, New Jersey

In seaside Cape May, the venerable Congress Hall operates the 62-acre Beach Plum Farm, nestled in protected wetlands over a mile from the hotel.
Visitors can bike over to marvel at the robust raised beds of produce that supply the hotel’s kitchen with pesticide-free tender spinach, zesty radishes and crisp asparagus. Tomatoes are synonymous with this corner of New Jersey and the farm’s plum variety are jarred and used in the hotel’s pizza sauce all year.
During seasonal festivals, hotel guests and the public are both welcome to assist with spinning honey out of the comb, collecting and washing eggs and digging for sweet potatoes.
Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ 08204; +1 609-884-8421; Starting nightly rate: Spring starting rate is $119 and summer is $329

Woodstock Inn & Resort, Vermont

With a mushroom glen and recently planted fruit orchards, the Woodstock Inn & Resort’s eateries have their own holistic food supply, thanks to the resort’s 2.5-acre Kelly Way Gardens.
Located a little over a mile from the inn, master gardener Benjamin Pauly nurtures more than 200 varieties of vegetables, many of them heirloom varieties, including 65 distinct types of tomatoes. Edible flowers, including bachelor buttons and nasturtiums, may add a decorative touch to the just-picked offerings.
Pauly and executive chef Rhys Lewis work in tandem to ensure guests experience gastronomy straight from the ground. Dishes like garden tacos packed with roasted cauliflower, carrots and homemade salsa are tempting to even confirmed carnivores.
Woodstock Inn & Resort, 14 The Green, Woodstock VT 05091; +1 888-338-2745; Starting nightly rate is $249

Fairmont San Francisco, California

In cosmopolitan culinary big-shot San Francisco, an array of Mediterranean herbs and Meyer lemon trees are infusing edible energy into the old-world Fairmont San Francisco’s 1,000-square-foot garden. Hotel-grown rosemary, thyme, oregano, cilantro and lavender add panache to the bar’s cocktails and infuse the menu with seasonal flavors.
The architectural star of the garden is the wild bee hotel, a wooden structure built to provide bees with a place to nest. It ensures a plentiful production of the hotel’s prized honey, used liberally in salad dressings and as an accompaniment to the hotel’s well-established afternoon tea service.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, guests may glimpse the garden through floor-to-ceiling windows in the rooftop foyer without having to step outdoors.
Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108; +1 415-772-5000; Starting nightly rate is $329

Chabl Resort and Spa, Chochola, Yucatan, Mexico

Located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the heart of the Mayan world, the new Chabl Resort and Spa pays homage to ancient tradition with its Mayan garden.
A rainbow of traditional Mesoamerican crops, including maize, squash and chaya leaves, are thriving. Herbs are grown in raised beds made from locally sourced wood and constructed without human-produced elements, keeping with ancient agricultural practices.
Guests are welcome to attend a traditional blessing of the bounty each morning. The resident horticulturist plants seeds in organic soil and encourages guests to participate in the gardening. Nearly all of the mouth-watering produce served in the hotel’s three eateries, including herbs for tea, is harvested daily.
Chabl Resort and Spa, Tablaje #642, Chochol, Yucatan, Mexico C.P. 97816, +52 55 4161 3085 or +1 888-424-2253 (from US/Canada); Starting nightly rate: is $1,040 (includes breakfast)

Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Environmental stewardship permeates many aspects of life on the exclusive, low-tech Caribbean island of Petit St. Vincent. With a large organic garden just outside of the kitchen door, the resort benefits from an unbeatable variety of tropical fruit, produce and herbs.
Indonesian-born chef Andi Cahyono collaborates with chief gardener Roy Doyle to grow lemongrass, Thai basil and winged beans for Cahyono’s Asian-fusion recipes. Callaloo and Caribbean vine spinach add zing to traditional West Indian dishes.
Wake up to just-off-the-tree mango and watch the sunset with a snack of fragrant spice cake, loaded with ginger grown on the island. With 400 free-roaming chickens, the morning eggs travel from coop to plate in minutes.

Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler, British Columbia

There are a host of sustainable practices in play at Nita Lake Lodge, but the seasonal rooftop garden is the most delectable. It shows up in farro salad with pomegranates and a smattering of rooftop herbs and pan-seared ling cod with Nita’s garden oregano and raspberry vinaigrette.
Even in the depths of winter, the culinary team dreams up plant-enhanced offerings, including ethereal macaroons infused with homegrown dried lavender. The property sits on the shores of pristine Nita Lake, just a stone’s throw from Whistler’s famed skiing, so winter guests are surrounded by the region’s feathery powder as they dine.

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Barbados holiday guide: the best beaches, restaurants, bars and places to stay


Barbados holiday guide:

You dont need a pop stars budget to enjoy the palm trees and sunny Caribbean sea of this popular island. Genie Austin reveals her homelands best beaches, cheap eats, rum shops and typically tropical activities


When I tell people Im from Barbados, I usually get some variation of the same response. Ooh, paradise, they say, as they conjure up coconut trees, tropical drinks, bright sunshine and foam-crested azure waves.

But on an island where holidays can come at shockingly high prices, this idea of paradise feels woefully beyond the reach of the average traveller. However, as every Bajan knows, the charms of this tiny coral island between the Caribbean and the Atlantic can be unlocked without breaking the bank at a luxury hotel or being limited by a package deal.

There are plenty of charming low-cost hotels, cheap-and-cheerful eateries and bars, under-the-radar beaches and free or low-cost fun activities to be enjoyed if you know where to look.

Barbados map


Take a hike

Barbados doesnt have soaring peaks, waterfalls, rivers or tropical rainforests like some of its neighbours. Nevertheless, it is a tropical island, and its vegetation can be lush, wild, and breathtakingly beautiful. Hike Barbados is a local organisation that conducts free hikes through less accessible areas. Its three-hour hikes run throughout the year, with morning walks starting at 6am, afternoon walks at 3.30pm, and moonlight walks at 5.30pm.

Watch the sun sunrise at Farley Hill

Old 19th-century Sugar Plantation House, Farley Hill. Photograph: Alamy

At least once during every visit to Barbados, we get up 45 minutes before dawn and drive to Farley Hill national park to watch the sunrise. Farley Hill, a ruined plantation house, is worth a visit on its own merits, but try sitting atop the hill in its grounds overlooking the Atlantic one cool morning, and watch the sky gradually lighten before the sun finally makes its dramatic appearance. All the while, blackbirds and wood doves lend their approval to this feat of nature, as the wind whistles through the large casuarina trees along the hilltops ridge. Its an unforgettable experience. And although its an isolated spot, its quite safe. On our last visit we noticed the park has added an overnight security guard at the entrance.

Catch a drive-in movie

I grew up going to open-air, drive-in cinemas, so was surprised to find theyre not the norm everywhere. Theres still one in Barbados, the Globe Drive-In in Vauxhall, and I always go when Im home because its a unique experience. Tickets are 6. If your accommodation will permit it, take blankets and pillows for a picnic under the stars while you watch your flick. Youll be almost entirely among locals, and when the film reaches a dramatic moment like the satisfying death of a villain be ready for the chorus of car horns beeping their approval.

See the Christmas parade

Photograph: Alamy

If you have the good fortune to be in Barbados in the festive season, head to Queens Park in the capital, Bridgetown, on Christmas morning, where dressed up people promenade in a ritual going back over 100 years. The park, formerly the grounds of the Commander of the British troops in the West Indies, was acquired by the government in the early 1900s. In 1907 it commissioned the Royal Barbados Police Band to hold free morning Christmas concerts to establish it as a peoples park. Youll be blown away by the colourful and outlandish outfits, sexy Santa costumes and splendid ballgowns. Walking around in 30C heat, rum punch in hand, caught up in the festivity of a tropical Christmas, sums up for me the meaning of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men.


Barbados has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and although in recent years erosion has taken its toll, there are still many unspoilt gems. The key is to choose a beach based on what you want to do, or not do.

Paradise Beach

Photograph: Getty Images

The west coast of Barbados is fringed by the calm Caribbean, so is ideal for relaxing. I have a few favourites here, but Paradise Beach is my top pick. It gets its name from a hotel that was here until the 1980s. With its closure, and efforts to open another hotel stalled for years, its an oasis of peace, interrupted only by the occasional boat or jet ski. Most visitors have no idea the beach exists you get there by walking south from neighbouring Batts Rock Beach but its a wonderful place for relaxing, swimming and enjoying the peace.

Paynes Bay

Photograph: Hans-Peter Merten/Getty Images

My second-favourite beach on this coast is a great place to try jet skiing, sailing and waterskiing, and for finding a boat to go swimming with hawksbill and leatherback turtles. There are organised tours from 80, but the many local operators of jet skis and boats will do deals for around half that for a 30-minute excursion, including snorkelling equipment. Paynes Bay is a short walk from the Sandy Lane Hotel beach, for some discreet spotting of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts.

Pebbles Beach

For a more meditative beach experience head just south of Bridgetown. The water in this sheltered bay is quite still, making it an excellent place for standup paddleboarding (SUP). Paddle Barbados offers classes at 50 for a 90-minute group class, and SUP Yoga at 30 for a 75-minute class.


Eating out in Barbados can be very expensive, and food costs can exceed those of accommodation. Happily, though, there are plenty of good inexpensive eateries on both sides of the island.

Sand Dunes Bar and Restaurant, Windy Hill

This restaurant on the islands rugged east coast is one of my favourites. The food is simple and unpretentious but fresh and full of flavour. The menu changes daily and consists of local favourites such as breadfruit coucou (mashed with butter and milk), salt fish with gravy, and a salad or side vegetables. There may also be fried flying fish served with rice and peas, and macaroni pie. A full meal will cost around 12 a head.
Ermy Bourne Highway, Windy Hill, +1 246 422 9427

Animal Flower Cave, North Point


Aside from the delicious, if slightly pricy, food rotis from 13, salads from 10 what makes this restaurant stand out is its location on the cliffs of North Point, where between December and April humpback whales can be spotted playing in the surf. Beneath the restaurant is the islands only accessible sea cave, Animal Flower cave, known for its fascinating sea anemones (animal flowers). Guided visits adult 8, child 4.
+1 246 439 8797,

Orange Street Grocer, Speightstown


Bajans are not big coffee drinkers, but a handful of places serve really good coffee, and this beautifully designed cafe, with a large terrace overlooking the ocean, is one of them. Its a great place to start the morning or watch the sun go down in the evening. It serves salads, pizza and other light fare, but I find these a little pricey, so usually stick to coffee and one of their tasty desserts, which cost around 6.

Cuzs Fish Shack, near Pebbles Beach


Even if youre not staying on the south coast, pay a visit to this colourful and somewhat ramshackle Barbadian equivalent of a food truck. Cuz first became a favourite among divers and surfers on nearby Pebbles Beach. The cutters the local term for any sandwich made using a bun known as salt bread are filled with fried steakfish, tomato, lettuce, Bajan pepper sauce and a bit of mayo, with optional toppings of cheese or a fried egg. They cost 25 and are delicious with a cold Banks beer or a Plus, an energy drink made from sugar cane.
On Facebook


Rum shops, everywhere

John Moore Bar; one of many rum shops on the island. Photograph: Alamy

Bajans like to boast that Barbados is the birthplace of rum. Records show that the honour might actually belong to Brazil, but Barbados is the unrivalled champion of the rum shop scene in the Caribbean they have been part of our landscape for more than 300 years. They come in every shape, colour and size, and are much more than just a bar: theyre a place for friends to meet, drink, talk politics, tell jokes, and play dominoes. And they are incredibly cheap. In general, a beer costs about 1.50, a rum punch (a deliciously refreshing concoction of rum, lime juice, sugar cane syrup, a splash of Angostura Bitters and a scrape of nutmeg) is 4, and a small bottle of rum is just 2. The best approach is to simply walk into any shop that catches your fancy they are convivial places where everyone is welcomed.

One Love Bar, Holetown


On one of my return visits, I wandered into this bar with my husband Andrew. Id never been there before, but we were tired and needed a break from the heat. We ordered two bottles of Plus, and were promptly told by one of the patrons, who was already pretty plastered at 3pm, that men dont drink Plus. He then proceeded to pour Andrew some of his white rum, and there followed a pleasant afternoon of aimless, good-natured chatter and much drinking. One Love Bar is a bit of an anomaly among the expensive restaurants and swanky boutiques of the west coast, and were always relieved when we return to see it still there going strong.
1st Street, Holetown, on Facebook

Bay Tavern, Martins Bay

Bajans come from all corners to this east coast fishing village to lime (hang out) and fire a rum. Thursday afternoons are particularly popular, so stop by then as it has a real party atmosphere. It also does lunch and dinner. Local dishes, grilled marlin, rice and peas and fried plantain, say, are delicious at around 10.
On Facebook


South Gap Hotel, St Lawrence Gap

Photograph: Leslie St John

The south coast of Barbados has a party reputation, so this is the place for those whose idea of a perfect holiday involves frequent nights out. The South Gap is a modern hotel with pool, restaurant and bar in St Lawrence Gap, a lively 1.3 km stretch of road in the parish of Christ Church. A studio for two with balcony and mini kitchen costs from 100 B&B.

Beckys by the Sea, Fitts Village


Just across the road from the beach in Fitts Village on the west coast, this modern guesthouse has two en suite rooms from around 50 a night. Guests have use of living areas, several patios and kitchen. Beckys doesnt offer breakfast but promises that youll wake to freshly brewed coffee, herbal teas, local fruit and juice when in season. For more substantial fare, take a bus to Holetown, a few miles up the road, where BeannBagel cafe does a real Bajan breakfast of fried flying fish and bakes (the local version of a pancake) or a more traditional cooked breakfast.

The Stables, Little Holders House, Holetown

Photograph: Genie Austin

For 55 a night for two, this spacious, fully equipped cottage a few miles further up the west coast has a large patio, open-plan layout and a mixture of traditional and modern furniture. It offers quintessential Caribbean living.

Rostrevor Hotel, St Lawrence Gap

Photograph: Leslie St John

The most affordable approach to a Barbados family holiday is to self-cater, but to escape household chores, try the Rostrevor Hotel. This beachfront property on the south coast has doubles with small kitchens from about 94 a night room only. It also has a poolside bar-restaurant.


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