While hotel rooftops swell with end-of-summer revelers this holiday weekend, other hotels buzz with a different kind of crowd — bees. Hotels have jumped on the farm-to-table beekeeping trend to harvest honey for use in their restaurants, spas and shops. Visit these five bee-friendly hotels to sample the sweet nectar.
Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta
Executive chef Robert Gerstenecker speaks like a proud father about the bees that inhabit the hives in the Atlanta hotel’s fifth-floor terrace because they used to live in his own backyard. Raised on an Ontario farm, Gerstenecker aims to source locally for Park 75 restaurant. After installing two hives, the chef added three more this year to keep up the supply that his new menu demands. Unlike many beekeepers, the chef harvests his hives once a year instead of twice so that the bees have enough honey to keep them healthy through the winter.
Buzzworthy: Gerstenecker’s favorite honey-inspired dishes include salted honey caramels and a squash blossom stuffed with citrus-scented lump crabmeat that’s tempura-fried and topped with fresh honey. Are you sweet on the product? Pick up a jar at Park 75.
The Waldorf-Astoria, New York
Big cities like New York actually provide the ideal habitat for honeybees because of their diverse flora, and this hotel’s proximity to Central Park—less than one mile—helps. In April, Garcelon and his staff welcomed a black town car carrying six beehives. Local beekeeper Andrew Cote installed the thousands of bees into their new garden home atop the 20th floor, which used to be a terrace for guests.
Buzzworthy: Executive chef David Garcelon plans to incorporate it into a honey-walnut pastry straw to garnish the signature Waldorf salad as well as create a honey ice cream.
Montage Deer Valley, Park City
The scenic Park City hotel embraces its Beehive State locale by selling locally harvested jarred honey in its espresso bar, Buzz. Kyle Kanno of The Honey Jar, a boutique honey business, derives the varietals off-campus in Honeyville. But Kanno hopes to move some to Montage to test a high-altitude honey made from the pollen of local wildflowers.
Buzzworthy: Buy suckers, honeycomb or jars of it in Buzz. Try dandelion, lavender, alfalfa, clover, blackberry or orange blossom honey.
Since the first hive arrived in June 2010, the Boston hotel added two more, bringing the population to more than 100,000 bees. Sous chef Cyrille Couet of the hotel’s Miel (French for “honey”) took on the beekeeper role and has harvested more than 200 pounds of honey. You’ll find the nectar in the hotel’s food, cocktails, spa treatments and an annual Honey Harvest Dinner, a three-course meal with dishes like sage-honey-and-sea-salted pork belly and pan-seared, honey-basted scallops.
Buzzworthy: Sip on a honey-ginger caipirinha (made with housemade honey syrup) in RumBa, the rum and champagne bar. Or book a warm honey body wrap at the spa.
The Fairmont Royal York, Toronto
As the first Fairmont to install an apiary, the Toronto hotel teamed with the Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative and FoodShare to further its initiative for locally sourced food. Beginning with three hives in 2008 and adding three more to the 14th-floor rooftop since then, the hotel staff keeps its growing collection straight by playfully naming them (“Honey Moon Suite,” “Comb Suite Comb”). Get a free chef-led tour on weekends from 2 to 4 p.m.
Buzzworthy: At EPIC, chef Collin Thornton drizzles honey on cheese plates, in salad dressings, in soups and in the signature honey madeleine cookies. The hotel is partnering with the local Mill Street Brewery to create a honey beer called Royal Stinger.
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta