By Fiona Richmond Head of Regional Food, Scotland Food & Drink

It would be hard to underestimate the role of food and drink in the hotel visitor experience. What makes a stay memorable for guests is down to many factors, from the warm welcome and exceptional customer service to the quality of accommodation, facilities, and those extra special touches.


However, there is no doubt that what guests experience at the table is a fundamental part of their stay, and one that contributes to the memory of the trip long after they have gone home.


Take breakfast, for example. Who doesn’t enjoy that morning feast, with the array of produce on offer, watching the world going by, perhaps reading the paper, and chatting with fellow diners and staff? How many of us remember our eyes lighting up when greeted with such delicious food to start the day?


On a personal level, my mind often wanders to the many memorable breakfasts at The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, that I shared with my parents. It was an annual pilgrimage, and one of the things we looked forward to most was sitting by the window in the morning, tucking into to local delights from nearby farms and admiring the stunning views. It doesn’t get much better than this, we often said.


Interest in where food comes from and the desire to support local businesses continues to rise. Over the years we have seen a sea-change in operators’ approach to local sourcing; it is much more commonplace now, and the benefits of putting Scottish produce on the menu are well understood. Nothing can beat that personal relationship with suppliers, getting to know them, their story and how they make their products. The satisfaction and pride when something special is on the menu and enjoyed by guests is mutually beneficial for diners and hoteliers alike. There are many shining examples of hotels and accommodation providers who put local produce centre stage, from The Torridon in the Highlands to Monachyle Mhor in Perthshire; Islay’s Glenegedale House to Kinloch Lodge on Skye; Loch Melfort Hotel in Argyll to Archerfield Estate in East Lothian, and hundreds more.


One way to get closer to suppliers and discover what is available in the market is to join us at a major new event, Sourcing Scotland, at Perth Concert Hall on 31st May. More than 50 selected suppliers from many regions of the country will be ready to meet you and tell you about their products and how they can meet your sourcing needs. Through a series of speed-dating style meetings, as well as an open marketplace where guests can wander around the suppliers stands at their leisure, we’re confident that chefs, food and beverage managers, or other purchasing decision-makers will leave feeling inspired and motivated, with more than a few new products sampled.


Local food and drink can be a talking point between guests and staff, providing that ‘taste of place’ experience for visitors. Food tourism is indeed something that the industry is driving, in recognition of Scotland’s potential to become better known and appreciated for its memorable food and drink experiences. We firmly believe that, no matter the reason for visiting, providing local produce and telling the stories of suppliers will add significantly to our shared goal of increasing visitor spend on Scottish produce and enhancing the country’s reputation as a Land of Food and Drink.


In this very publication, it made for happy reading to discover the new ‘Taste of Scotland’ food trails launched by tour operator Sleigh’s in partnership with Prestonfield House and The Witchery,  as part of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Visitors will be taken on an immersive food tourism experience, from foraging to lobster catching to distillery and farm tours. What a way to give guests an understanding of our local food, people, and places.


As an industry leadership organisation, it’s Scotland Food & Drink’s job to help the hotel sector to make sourcing local easier. Together with our partners at Scottish Tourism Alliance, we are also proud champions of The Hotelier’s Charter, which features a commitment to sourcing local food and drink as one of its 10 pledges. With our network of food and drink suppliers, wholesalers, food tourism ambassadors, regional food groups and partners, we are well-placed to help operators find the right products for their menus, whether from their immediate region or from across Scotland.


We know business is still tough, and that there are so many pressures facing the sector.  We believe that by working together with the brilliant growers, butchers, fishers, distillers, cheesemakers, bakers and producers  will bring many benefits to hotels, suppliers and, of course, the visitors and guests, while contributing to the ongoing recovery of tourism, hospitality, and food and drink.


We look forward to welcoming many hoteliers to the event in May.

For full details of how to register for Sourcing Scotland please visit here


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