Visit to the H&T Innovation Summit, Málaga

The bustling city of Málaga, Spain, recently played host to one of the most anticipated events in the hospitality, hotel and tourism sectors – the H&T Innovation Summit. Held from February 5th to 7th at the FYCMA (Trade Fairs and Congress Center of Málaga), this year marked the 26th edition of the summit, drawing attention from international professionals across the industry.

As one of a group of six journalists, I had the privilege of attending this prestigious event, graciously invited by the Málaga Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Málaga City Hall. From the moment we stepped into the expansive 26,000 square meters of exhibition space, it was evident that the summit promised a plethora of opportunities for innovation, networking and exploration of cutting-edge technologies within the hospitality realm.

Featuring over 400 companies and organizations, with a significant presence from the agri-food sector, the summit provided a platform for industry giants and emerging innovators alike to showcase their latest products and solutions. Among them, local and regional brands like Sabor a Málaga took center stage, highlighting the rich diversity and quality of culinary offerings from the region.

The summit was structured around four key areas, each offering a unique perspective on the evolving landscape of hospitality and gastronomy. At the Main Stage, luminaries such as Michelin-starred chefs Jordi Cruz, the Torres Brothers, Nacho Estévez Paniagua and José Luis Yzuel captivated audiences with insightful talks on topics ranging from artificial intelligence in gastronomy to the creative process behind crafting unforgettable culinary experiences.

In the Kitchen Lab, chefs shared their expertise on gastronomic trends, like Iolanda Bustos who talked about the fascinating realm of cooking with flowers. Known as “the Chef of flowers,” Bustos demonstrated how floral ingredients can transcend mere aesthetics, offering a sensory journey that connects with our deepest emotions and memories.

Another highlight was the session led by two-Michelin-starred chef Mario Cachinero, head chef of Skina in Marbella, and pastry chef Manuel Jesus Lobo along with Damián Seijas (Nespresso Coffee Ambassador). Cachinero and Lobo showcased innovative recipes featuring coffee as a main ingredient, while Seijas elevated the experience with an expertly crafted coffee-based cocktail that included Moscatel, dark rum and raisins, showcasing Nespresso’s Reviving Origins Congo Organic variety.

The Makro Classroom provided a space for hospitality professionals to hone their skills through workshops and training sessions led by industry experts and seasoned chefs. Meanwhile, the Tasting Room offered a tantalizing array of lectures on wine and beer, including an unforgettable tasting of legendary rosé wines from Provence.

Led by Clement Malochet of Château d’Esclans, the Cult Rosés tasting transported attendees to the sun-kissed vineyards of Southern France, where we savored the exquisite flavors of renowned cuvées like the 2019 Garrus, which was left as a surprise at the end. We had to guess the vintage (my guess was 2020, so close enough!). With its vibrant notes of ripe berries, citrus and subtle hints of herbs, this exceptional wine exemplified the elegance and sophistication synonymous with the Château d’Esclans rosés.

My experience at the 2024 H&T Innovation Summit was nothing short of inspiring. From the latest technological advancements to the timeless artistry of gastronomy, the summit showcased the boundless creativity and innovation driving the hospitality industry forward. After bidding farewell to Málaga, I was left with a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation for the future of hospitality and gastronomy, fueled by the knowledge and insights gained at this remarkable event.

With great thanks to  the Málaga Chamber of Commerce with the collaboration of the Málaga City Hall for inviting me to this memorable event.
(Video: Hans Westbeek MediaProduction)