Benchmark has released its list of top dining trends for 2020 as observed by executive chefs and culinary experts at the global hospitality company’s 80 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants, including Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs and Tivoli Lodge in Vail as well as the very recent addition of Manor Vail Lodge.

No. 1 Cannabidiol (CBD)

Coffee shops and restaurants in many American cities now have an array of CBD oil-infused menu offerings that are aimed at attracting customers interested in trying new eco-friendly, plant-based ingredients. CBD is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis and is known to reduce pain, stress and anxiety. CBD-infused drinks are also quickly gaining momentum.

No. 2 Plant Ecosystem

Some individuals are making a dietary switch into the plant-based ecosystem and seeking plant-based food alternatives meat and dairy. The art of cooking and food invention are recreating meat and dairy flavors from non-meat and non-dairy products like soy, peas, cashews and almonds.

No. 3 Healthy Snacks

There are new products on the snack food market providing healthier alternatives to chips, with ingredients like chickpeas, beets, quinoa and kale.

No. 4 Jackfruit

The newest go-to meat substitute is jackfruit. Already being used as an alternative for barbecue pulled pork, jackfruit is a southeast Asian fruit that is a great source of iron, calcium and B vitamins.

No. 5 Fruit Forward

Unique fruit flavors, such as cactus, are taking mixology by storm … more specifically, spiny cactus fruits such as prickly pear and dragon fruit. Consumers also are exploring unique fruit flavor varieties, including bergamot orange, yuzu, calamansi, citron, makrut lime, pomelo, Meyer lemon, blood orange and ugli fruit.

No. 6 Oat Milk

Oat milk has emerged as the golden child of alternative milks. It’s terrific in coffees, and companies are launching other oat milk products as alternatives to dairy.

No. 7 Sparkling Water

Sparkling water demand continues to be driven by consumers who are concerned about sugar but still looking to satisfy cravings for carbonation. Consider offering sparkling water beverages that feature unique flavors and low alcohol (or no alcohol).

No. 8 Bright & Bold

In terms of flavors and colors, consumers are looking for bright, bold, appealing hues. Color generates emotional appeal with food, and it may be as important as taste.

No. 9 Traceability

Consumers are demanding sustainability in all forms. Whether it’s swapping out Styrofoam and plastic for paper or bamboo or buying ingredients from local sustainable sources, sustainability is a big focus.

No. 10 Ugly Produce

Consumers are finally accepting misshapen, bruised and ugly foods as totally edible. How can hotels and restaurants follow suit?

With the introduction of two newer hotels in downtown Denver and Fort Collins, The Maven and The Elizabeth Hotel both by Sage Hospitality, the alleys are among the star attractions and have demonstrated their huge potential as outdoors venues. In fact, downtown Fort Collins puts a high priority on its alleys by utilizing murals, painting utility boxes and sometimes having pianos there to play as well!

The Alley at Dairy Block, Denver

 

How did three smaller Colorado towns— La Junta, Trinidad and Walsenburg— host a conference like the 2019 Southern Colorado Tourism Summit? The solution was taking attendees on the road and using transfer times as conference sessions.

Summit Snapshot 

 

Sometimes small communities are overlooked as meeting and event destinations when frequently they have the capacity to host moderate-sized groups in an affordable and enjoyable fashion, especially if the towns are used to welcoming tourists. It may take some piecing together of lodging and venues, but Minturn (located between Vail and Beaver Creek) demonstrated how by hosting MountainCon 2019 from May 3-5.