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February 6, 2015

Hotels Offer Do-it-Yourself Food Options for Groups

By Elaine Simon

The current trends of experiential and authentic travel is extending to the events and groups segment. Instead of delivering food and beverage directly to attendees, many hotels are allowing guests to prepare and source their own food and drinks with the help of their culinary teams and local companies.

The concept, dubbed "Do-It-Yourself," or DIY, appears to be gaining some traction throughout the world, from Puerto Rico to South Carolina.

Here's a look at some DIY offerings that are currently creating a lot of buzz (and satisfying a lot of stomachs).

Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino

At Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in San Juan, groups can challenge the property's cooks to create the best barbeque dishes like "Beat Bobby Flay."

Attendees are provided with a variety of local ingredients and spirits indigenous to Puerto Rico so they are well equipped to take on the property's culinary team in a cook-off competition. That includes the means to prepare their own mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish that includes fried plantains.

Groups can also dive into a new mojito experience introduced last year that allows groups to collaborate with the property's mixologists.

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Costa Rica features the "You Hook It, We Cook It" program for those who enjoy fishing.

The program takes groups out on fishing excursions and allows attendees to bring back their daily catches to be prepared at the resort's kitchens. Groups can choose from a variety of local preparation styles for an authentic and delicious meal they provided for.

What's more, Los Suenos Marriott just so happens to be situated in Herradura, widely dubbed as the capital of sports fishing and group boating in Costa Rica.

There are certainly worse ways to spend your group outing.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in South Carolina recently held an authentic, locally sourced event at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.

The event, which accommodated for 200 guests from a globally recognized cosmetics company, included a traditional Lowcountry oyster roast as attendees enjoyed May River oysters from Bluffton Oyster Factory, the last working oyster company in the state of South Carolina.

This is just one of many examples of Westin Hilton Head Island going above and beyond for groups and meeting attendees.

Waldorf Astoria New York

Groups can learn the art of beekeeping in metropolises such as New York City now.

Waldorf Astoria New York is currently offering the experience for groups of 10 or less at its rooftop garden.

As part of the package, teams have exclusive access to the rooftop garden and its beehives as they don bee suits and explore the hives with the property's culinary team in an immersive experience.

Oh yeah, and Waldorf Astoria New York's culinary team just happens to include trained beekeepers.

JW Marriott Grand Rapids

Meeting planners can set up a big surprise for attendees at JW Marriott Grand Rapids (Mich).

The "Iron Chef" experience starts off at one of the hotel's meeting rooms, but—all of a sudden—attendees are whisked away to "JW Kitchen Stadium," where they are welcomed by cheering staffers and their mentor chefs.

From there, the group is divided into two teams who partake in a head-to-head culinary competition, which involves preparing a two-course meal.

After dishes are plated, attendees present their masterpieces to judges and anxiously await their decision.

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort

Fans of ceviche will be happy to know that Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort offers a Build-Your-Own-Ceviche station for groups.

Using the station, groups can personalize their own ceviche in a coconut shell plate, celebrating authentic Mexican beachside cuisine with different types of fish and seafood and ingredients such as jalapeño, pineapple, red onions, mango, and cilantro.

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