A classic eclair at Le Meridien Tampa. Travel Update photo by Barb DeLollis.

A classic eclair at Le Meridien Tampa. Travel Update photo by Barb DeLollis.

When you’re traveling for work and don’t have time to really experience your destination, something as little as a local snack or artisanal beer can make all difference, right?

Who wouldn’t, for instance, want to brag about the over-the-top Tex-Mex dish that they ate at the San Antonio hotel that they never left during a three-day conference?

Even a simple cocktail can be made memorable with something as simple as local ingredients, as longtime reader Bill wrote in a comment on my recent post, “Local flavors: How will Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood etc up the ante?

“Was having lunch at a Hilton (Dallas) yesterday and they had a nice selection of Texas vodkas,” reader Bill wrote.

So naturally, hotels across the price spectrum are exploiting this trend.

Marriott International’s new near-budget-priced Moxy chain in Europe, for instance, won’t have a full-service restaurant with fancy meals with pricy touches such as local organic meats or cheeses. And yet, Marriott senior executive Tina Edmundson told me recently, Moxy customers will be able to buy some items that have at least some local relevance such as a soup for dinner. (The first Moxy opened in Milan earlier this month.)

At the higher-end of the market, Starwood’s Le Meridien chain is using the traditional French pastry – the eclair (see photo above) – to give customers a “local” twist. (The chain was initially created by Air France in 1972; Starwood bought in 2005. Stay tuned for a broader story on TravelUpdate.com soon!)

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The eclair symbolizes the chain’s French heritage, but every Le Meridien hotel is charged with creating at least one eclair flavor that’s inspired by the destination, Anthony Ingham, Starwood’s vice president who oversees the chain along with Starwood’s other luxury chains, told me recently during a Le Meridien media event in Tampa. In the case of Tampa, which sits on the water, the hotel’s special eclair flavor is salted caramel, he said. Other examples:

  • DALLAS: Le Méridien Dallas by the Galleria sells a maple bacon eclair and Texas honey pecan eclair
  • PANAMA CITY: Le Méridien Panama sells a dulce de leche eclair infused with coconut
  • MUNICH: Le Méridien Munich sells an éclair with goat cheese, cranberry and pumpernickel crumbs
  • BANGKOK: Le Méridien Bangkok sells a citrus-inspired treat with mango, lime and ginger

Readers: Have you been to a hotel that’s done a good job with giving you a taste of the destination’s local flavors in some way, even if just a small way? Name the hotel, identify the food/drink and send a photo if you have one!