ORLANDO, FL—Travelers spend weeks—sometimes months—preparing for tropical vacations. With countless hours spent at the gym, the quest to be beach-body ready can be all-consuming. And between that—and the general trend toward healthier living—it’s important for hotels and resorts to provide food & beverage options that leave guests feeling restored.
Certainly, that was the thought process behind Fresh Fix, a food & beverage concept launched in early 2017 by Hard Rock Hotel Cancun and Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Mexico. Fresh Fix offers guests at the all-inclusive resorts dining offerings that are designed to be both flavorful and nutritious. The hotels also strive to meet the dietary needs of all by offering gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and low-calorie options.
“We wanted to cater to our guests’ needs,” said Frank Maduro, VP of marketing for Miami-based AIC Hotel Group. “Healthy dining is a huge focus for many of our guests, so we offer these culinary options.”
The development process for this new segment of the all-inclusive menu took approximately one year. Many hours were logged developing recipes and conducting tastings. Each recipe was recorded using a step-by-step procedure. Then, the chefs and cooks at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun and Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya went through a weeklong training. Finally, the dishes were implemented at the resorts’ restaurants.
At the helm of this development and training was Mexican-born chef Karla Hernandez, who was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and completed an internship at the world-renowned Le Jules Verne, a Michelin-rated restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Prior to coming on board with Hard Rock, she ran a sandwich shop in her home country—“just to test what it would be like to own and work in a restaurant.” Her own food intolerances (which number over 50) led her to dive into the world of healthy cooking.
This was her inspiration for Fresh Fix, which focuses on fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients. Hernandez, who is also an author and writes a Spanish-language food blog, Pizca de Sabor, said, “My focus and priority have become health and wellness. I wanted to promote easy and healthy recipes given the increasing obesity rate in the United States and Mexico.”
The ingredients in the dishes are fresh and locally sourced. Natural flavors are highlighted and some traditional dishes feature a unique, healthy flair, according to the chef. Dishes include papaya carpaccio, chocolate mousse, sashimi de sandia, sopes con chorizo de champinones (fried corn masa topped with beans, vegan mushroom chorizo, lettuce, tomato and cilantro lime sauce) and pollo tropical con salsa de mango y jicama (grilled chipotle chicken, jicama and mango salad and crispy tortillas). “Most of the recipes have a tropical flavor and freshness that pair very well with the setting of the Mexican Hard Rock hotels and their gorgeous beaches and weather,” explained Maduro.
So far, guest feedback has been positive regarding the new additions to the menu. “Guests love that they have lighter and healthier options on property. They still want to indulge while on vacation, but are often looking for a smaller portion or a lower calorie option. Fresh Fix gives them those options,” said Maduro. For instance, the chocolate mousse doesn’t skimp on ingredients—still being made with chocolate, sugar, butter and eggs—but the portion size is smaller, to allow for a little indulgence.
Fresh Fix options are available on all of the dinner menus at each participating Hard Rock’s restaurant, aside from the all-you-can-eat buffets. At Hard Rock Cancun, Fresh Fix can be found at Zen, which serves Asian cuisine; Ciao, an Italian restaurant; Ipanema, a Brazilian steakhouse; and the Mexican restaurant, Frida. At Hard Rock Riviera Maya, options include steakhouse Toro, Ciao, the French-inspired Le Petit Cochon and the Latin-American Los Gallos. In-room dining is available at both properties.
The company hopes to add the Fresh Fix option to all of its restaurant locations across the globe, beginning with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. HB