Food & Drink

Why Farm-to-Fork Is Our New Favorite Resort Restaurant Concept

If you’re looking for a resort whose eco-cred encompasses all you eat, these 11 swish stays around Southeast Asia have immersive foraging and farming experiences.

Farm to Fork Resort: Melia Chiang Mai

Courtesy of Melia Chiang Mai

By Marissa Carruthers

Sep 21, 2022

FANCY FORAGING IN THE WILD for food, plowing the land alongside farmers or experiencing sustainable farming first-hand before feasting on the fruits of your labor? Thanks to the, ahem, mushrooming farm-to-fork trend, it’s no longer hard to find a resort going that extra mile to dish up earth-fresh and -friendly plates coupled with interactive experiences.

The sustainable movement was gaining traction ahead of the pandemic, but Covid has escalated the trend, with more resorts and restaurants around Southeast Asia giving it top priority. Just look the pioneering permaculture garden at The Datai Langkawi; at Fusion Resort Cam Ranh in Vietnam, which has created a 4,000-square-meter farm, one of the largest on a Southeast Asia resort; or at Jampa in Phuket (a new resort-and-restaurant sister property to famed Trisara), which only sources food locally and has its own farm that also supplies Michelin-starred Pru. 

There are plenty more sustainable stays in Southeast Asia serving irresistible farm-to-fork experiences. Here are some of our favorites.

Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape, Bali 

Farm to Fork Resort: Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape, Bali
Courtesy of Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape

Reaping what they sow, Buahan has curated a culinary journey that taps into the abundance of pickings in its area in the heart of Bali, north of Ubud. Thanks to fertile lands, Buahan is rich in wild plants, fruits and vegetables. Think cocoa and coffee beans, wild berries, pepper, sugar palm and midrib mushrooms. This resort isn’t just farm-to-fork, but also forest-to-fork, as auests are invited to forage in the wild and pick, smell and taste the natural produce, including farm harvesting. At the end of the adventure, you can head back to the resort with your bounty of pickings to be transformed into delectable dishes at the Open Kitchen.

www.escape.banyantree.com; doubles from US$910

Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection, Cambodia

Farm to Fork Resort: Shinta Mani Wild
Organic eggs from farm. Courtesy of Shinta Mani Wild

Tucked away in the heart of Southeast Asia’s largest intact rainforest, the Cardamom Mountains, this luxurious retreat offers a bounty of sustainable food excursions. There’s the chance to join the chef as he heads into the heart of the jungle to forage for that day’s ingredients. During the pandemic closure, Shinta Mani created an organic farm with vegetable and herb gardens, a cocktail and spa garden and plant nursery. A free-range chicken run also supplies eggs—wouldn’t it be silly not to have a footloose flock with all that land?

www.wild.shintamani.com; doubles from US$1,900

South Palms Resort Panglao, Philippines 

Farm to Fork Resort: South Palms Resort Panglao, Philippines
Courtesy of South Palms Resort Panglao

As part of its sustainable pledge, this beachfront resort opened South Farm during the pandemic. The nine-hectare farm not only grows organic produce that supplies the resort and other hotels and restaurants on idyllic Bohol, it also hosts a series of immersive activities. Guests can take a tour of the farm and learn about where the food on their plate comes from, meet farmers and join a range of workshops to delve deeper into the workings of its organic, herbal and medicinal and ornamental gardens.

www.southpalmsresort.com; doubles from US$138   

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Melia Chiang Mai, Thailand

Farm to Fork Resort: Melia Chiang Mai
Courtesy of Melia Chiang Mai

If hanging out with farm animals, strolling through fragrant orchards, and learning about herbal medicine is up your street, then Melia’s recently-launched A Journey to the Farm package is just for you. The two-day immersion into the entire farm-to-fork movement sees resort guests ushered to ORI9IN, a 100-hectare gourmet farm, to meet farmers, learn about sustainable cultivation, feed the livestock, and learn first-hand about growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. And, of course, there’s the chance to devour delicious dishes made with fresh ingredients straight from the farm. 

www3.melia.com/en/hotels/thailand/chiang-mai/melia-chiang-mai; doubles from US$75

Farmhouse Smiling Gecko, Cambodia

Farm to Fork Resort: Farmhouse Smiling Gecko, Cambodia
Courtesy of Farmhouse Smiling Gecko

The rural province of Kampong Chhnang, about 65 kilometers north of Phnom Penh, is a patchwork of paddies and agricultural land – the perfect setting for Farmhouse Smiling Gecko. Hugged by sprawling countryside, the resort is set on 120 hectares of farmland, producing predominantly organic produce. Guests can pay the farms a visit, or partake in a series of immersive half-day tours that offer a fascinating insight into local agricultural life, such as meeting communities that forage for ant nests and mushrooms; palm sugar producers; and rice farmers.

www.farmhouse-smilinggecko.com; doubles from US$86

Bambu Indah, Bali

Farm to Fork Resort: Bambu Indah, Bali
Courtesy of Bambu Indah, Bali

Sustainability sits at the heart of Bambu Indah’s operations, so it only seems right that they have teamed up with a nearby farm to offer guests an immersive chance to see where their food comes from. Guests can take a permaculture farm tour of Kul Kul Farm to learn about sustainable farming practices and permaculture design principles, as well as meet the farmers who are passionate about organic food and sustainable living. Of course, this ends with a tasty farm-to-fork vegan lunch inspired by Bali and the resort gardens.

www.bambuindah.com; doubles from US$60

Banyan Tree Lang Co, Vietnam

Farm to Fork Resort: Banyan Tree Lang Co
Courtesy of Banyan Tree Lang Co

Planting itself firmly on Vietnam’s sustainability map, Banyan Tree Lang Co has launched a farm-to-table project that serves a unique agro experience that in turn supports local farmers. Its organic farm is home to vegetables garden, an animal farm, and worm farm. Chickens and ducks are also kept onsite. Guests can take a tour, help farmers plant and harvest crops, as well as feed animals. With all of the ingredients heading straight to Banyan Tree’s eateries, there’s plenty of chances to sample the fruits of your labor. Budding chefs can also join cooking classes using harvested ingredients.

www.banyantree.com/vietnam/lang-co; doubles from US$448   

Phu Chaisai, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Farm to Fork Resort: Phu Chaisai, Chiang Rai
Oolong Tea Platation. Courtesy of Phu Chaisai

Phu Chaisai is a stalwart on the hyper-locavore scene. The 320-hectare, 32-room eco-resort is home to tea plantations, organic farms, and fruit orchards, as well as free-range chicken farms, fish ponds and honey harvesting facilities, guaranteeing the ultimate farm-to-fork experience. There are several activities that allow guests to learn more about where their food originates before sampling it, such as trekking through organic vegetable farms and fruit orchards to reach the highest point of the property 600 meters above sea level – a great way to get the appetite going!

www.phu-chaisai.com; doubles from US$65

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