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See the name Relais & Châteaux and you’re likely to envision the kind of vacation bucket lists that dreams are made of: Stunning hotels views over the ocean, next-level beachside meals, experiences bringing you the best of cities around the world without the added stress of planning them; the list goes on… and on. But if you take a minute to dig into the details that this company is so focused on, you’ll find one particular area where they are setting an industry standard in sustainability: seafood.
Since 2009, Relais & Châteaux has been dedicated to promoting ocean preservation and protecting marine wildlife. That year, they made the official recommendation to all member properties to withdraw Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna from their menus, in an effort to preserve the species. In 2017, the brand didn’t allow any member to include wild bass on its menus during the breeding season between January and March. It wasn’t until the species was taken off the severely endangered list that they allowed member properties to serve it again. Soon after, they began fighting against electrofishing—a non-sustainable, harmful practice that damages the marine ecosystems when done incorrectly.
That brings us to 2019, where Relais & Châteaux has introduced a theme to this year’ sustainability efforts: “Fish Unknown.” This global campaign is focused on challenging chefs and diners to diversify their plates; choosing seafood based on stock levels and sustainable sourcing. The brand has 200 chefs who have confirmed participation in the campaign. The hope is that by introducing underutilized fish on menus at Relais & Châteaux properties across the world will help discourage—and eventually contribute to ending—the act of mass farming over-sourced seafood. This news comes just in time for World Ocean Day, which takes place every year on June 8.
For example, the Rosedon Hotel in Bermuda will be incorporating Lionfish into their restaurant offerings. The fish was recently named a leading destructor to the local marine ecosystem. “It is our hope that highlighting Lionfish as a delicacy will encourage more fishing of Lionfish, helping to limit population growth and to save Bermuda’s reefs,” said Matthew Weber, executive chef the Huckleberry, Rosedon Hotel’s restaurant. In addition, the property works exclusively with local fishermen who utilize handlines or rod and reel methods to bring in their catch of the day.
The Inn at Dos Brisas, a Relais & Châteaux property near Chappell Hill in Texas, avoids farmed fish completely and only works with whatever local fishermen bring in every day. Not only does this help push forward sustainable practices, but it provides a delightful surprise every time someone comes into the restaurant craving fish. For World Ocean Day, The Inn at Dos Brisas will be serving Gulf Porgy to fit into the theme of Fish Unknown.
In theory, it seems simple: Opt for lesser-fished seafood and you’re intuitively promoting a more sustainable process. But the details of turning this into a global property initiative is far from easy—here’s to hoping more brands take Relais & Châteaux’s lead.