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?

Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, known locally as “fourteeners” or “14ers.” This is more than any other state and includes the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak, where standing at the summit in 1893 inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write the poem “America” that today is known as the song “America the Beautiful.”

 

Keeping up with the ebb and flow of trends and best practices for meetings and events during the past few years has been like running a Colorado trail race without a map or directional signage. Where do you turn left, turn right, go straight, or temporarily stop at an aid station to take a breath and renourish?

 

With meetings returning to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic levels out, outdoor mountain pursuits are finding more time on meeting agendas. Taking events outdoors not only boosts attendees’ comfort level as they ease back into in-person meetings, time spent in nature is proven to improve brain health and stimulate creative thinking as well.

We’ll be looking at this topic in-depth in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Mountain Meetings. Consider this as an introduction to some of the possibilities.