The Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy initiative arrives at the city’s Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel and introduces guests to a farm-to-table staycation experience beyond buffets and drinks by the pool
With three-week quarantines now in place, it looks like staycations are here to stay in Hong Kong. And with the HK$500 discount at over 140 hotels the Tourism Board is offering to 20,000 Hongkongers, there’s more reason to go on a local getaway. Over the past year, hotels have been adapting to the changing needs of local vacationers and coming up with new packages to entertain those stuck in the SAR yet determined to have a change in scenery.
The tailored experience offers more than just a standard hotel stay and the usual breakfast/dinner package; the highlight of the stay is a curated tour to Winnie the Farm.
“Our partnership with Winnie the Farm demonstrates how hotels can engage with the community to help build awareness of sustainable living. Through intimate small-group visits to the farm, we hope guests are inspired to explore ways to promote the same values within their own communities,” says Sander Looijen, general manager of Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel.
Winnie Kong, an urban farmer who has set up a community supported agriculture space in the village of Mui Wo leads the curated experience. Kong shows off her thriving garden and breaks down the many steps involved in creating and sustaining this organic farming experience: sourcing waste from local businesses, creating compost with said waste, creating irrigation systems, and so on.
The farm is a sandbox of sorts for Kong and the local community to try different farming methods and grow new crops. The experience is educational and no doubt a novelty for many city dwellers, especially for those keen to enjoy a different experience from just staying in a hotel.
If anything, it also makes for a different twist for the gram as guests are given the chance to try their hands at various aspects of farming, from tilling the soil and creating compost to harvesting produce (butterfly pea flowers in our case) and making tea with the produce.
A refreshing end and full circle feeling for the tour are when guests are treated to a range of drinks made with roselle, butterfly pea and cat’s whiskers flowers, all freshly harvested at the farm.
The Family Farmcation experience takes the farm to table concept a step further with the set dinner at Yue, Sheraton’s Chinese restaurant. The dishes are made from fresh produce sourced from many small farmers in Lantau and the New Territories, such as papaya, locally foraged mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers as well as potatoes, carrots, and various greens.
The five-course meal features dishes like simmered organic vegetables in pumpkin soup and steamed chicken with shredded mushrooms and red dates in lotus leaf with a bamboo basket.
The tailored experience is part of Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy, a purpose-driven program from Marriott International. It was launched as a pilot earlier this year across 14 hotels in the Asia-Pacific as an experience to help guests forge deeper connections with and make a positive impact on the destinations they visit in three core aspects, namely environmental protection, community engagement and marine conservation.
Good Travel experiences at other hotels include coral planting at The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa; a workshop on the art of Yunjin brocade at The Ritz-Carlton, Nanjing; and tree planting at the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa in India.