From leisure to business travelers, guests are getting the full restaurant experience at hotels by sharing multiple dishes family style.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Today’s guests want a great experience from a hotel stay, which extends to sharing a meal with friends or business partners at hotel restaurants and bars.
Hotels from around the U.S. are creating more family-friendly food-and-beverage offerings, but they encourage all guest types to enjoy shareable entrees and appetizers to try out almost everything the restaurant has to offer.
At the Dream Downtown in New York City, the hotel’s Bodega Negra restaurant serves up dishes influenced by all of Mexico, according to Executive Chef Brad Warner.
“At Bodega, we have a good mix of our neighborhood as well as our hotel guests and leisure travelers, and … our whole menu at Bodega Negra is really set up to be shareable,” he said. “Our typical guests will come in and have guacamole with a couple of appetizers, then will order a few different tacos and then will share a couple of entrees amongst the table with a couple of sides.”
The vibe of Bodega Negra is “built around sharing community plates” and everyone being interactive while dining, Warner said.
The Fiesta Suprema from Bodega Negra at the Dream Downtown in New York City. (Photo: Dream Downtown NYC)
Bodega Negra at the Dream serves a “Fiesta Suprema” dish that is a “very fun, shareable option for a couple of people to a large group,” Warner said. It features a three-tiered tower of Mexican street food and raw bar classics, which includes oysters, clams, five types of ceviche, grilled Mexican corn rolled in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and more.
Appetizers, desserts and combo-style entrees are popular and easy options for guests to share at F&B outlets at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan, executive chef Chris Madsen said via email. The hotel also has shareable snacks such as popcorn, cheese and charcuterie boards, adding that large groups share throughout first-course meals to dessert.
“It all depends on the group and the purpose of their meal,” he said. “Sharing tends to be a more communal experience, so groups that are looking for a more casual, festive type (of) atmosphere are the ones doing the most with sharing (and) small plates.”
A turn toward casual dining
Whether it’s a group sitting down for a business meeting, a couple of friends or a banquet, hotel F&B is moving to a more casual vibe, which shareable F&B fits in well with.
Amway’s Madsen said he has had “groups share or do family style throughout all segments, from restaurants to banquets.”
“The primary place still remains within the restaurants,” he said. “I think it works well for banquet functions that are a little smaller, with less people seated around the tables. It makes it more convenient for the guests and eliminates so much passing.”
He added that Amway has offered shareable options on the menu for several years, and he anticipates the trend will stick around.
“I see this trend still growing for a while due to the fact that people are dining a little more casually now than in previous years,” he said. “We encourage people to share in order to be able to taste different menu items.”
Tapas-style food is served in the AC Lounge at the AC Hotel Miami Aventura in Aventura, Florida. (Photo: AC Hotel Miami Aventura)
Sharing more, eating less
Sharing a few dishes among a group means more food, but it also means guests are likely eating smaller portions and lighter options than they would if ordering an entrée for one.
Shareable items are part of the AC brand and are popular among business travelers and friends, GM Alan Pinado said via email.
“It is part of our AC Hotel brand to serve tapas only in our AC Lounge,” he said. “We do believe it is growing as people are not eating as heavy as well as more restaurants are offering a similar type (of) menu.”
Warner said trends in wellness play a role in people wanting to try more, but eat less.
“I think it’s a combination of people wanting to eat a little (healthier) and not necessarily overindulge, but then also the desire to get to try a large portion of the menu,” he said. “Dining is heading toward the idea that people want to experience a lot of what a place has to offer.”