The state of hospitality today might have been unfathomable a few decades ago. While luxury and decadence was the currency back then, today’s travellers want a different experience that values sustainability and wellness over pure indulgence. With a 2017 Global Wellness Institute study projecting the wellness tourism industry to be worth US$919 billion (S$1.235 trillion) by 2022, mindful living has become big business. With this comes bold moves such as boutique hotel chain Ovolo’s decision to turn fully vegetarian for a year. The group, which has properties in Hong Kong, Australia, and Bali, first started with Veda, a vegetarian restaurant in Hong Kong’s Ovolo Central. Vegetarian menus have since been adopted at all Ovolo restaurants, bars and room service options. Guests can dine on creations like roasted carrots with quinoa or momos filled with spinach and ricotta and served with tomato chutney. The Peak speaks to Ovolo’s founder and CEO, Girish Jhunjhnuwala – also a vegetarian – about the shift.
The vegetarian menu started at Veda. What spurred the decision to implement this across the group?
I am happy to say that our customers loved Veda and Alibi, our first two vegetarian restaurants, and it is their success that has given us the confidence to go fully vegetarian across the group. Over the past decade, I have seen a huge attitude shift towards vegetarianism. As people around the world become more educated and aware of not just the health implications but also
the environmental impact of consuming meat, vegetarianism as a dietary choice has sky-rocketed.
How would you balance hospitality and vision?
Although all our restaurants and in-room dining are fully vegetarian, delivery services and such are still open to our guests. At Ovolo, customers always have the choice; we will never restrict them. Likewise, if there is a particular cuisine that we do not offer, our guests are more than welcome to seek what they’d like elsewhere. In launching this initiative, we hope guests can respect our vision, as we respect their wants and needs. Going fully vegetarian is a bold move.
Aren’t you afraid it will distance certain segments of the market?
Of course, there is always that fear of launching something on such a scale. This fear comes with the experimentation of all our new ideas – the status quo has never been Ovolo’s style! There is always pushback but, if you believe in yourself, it becomes easier to convince your guests. By going vegetarian, we are showing our customer base how committed we are to sustainability and to pushing boundaries, which we have always done. To be revolutionary, we must provide something new.