This collection of HNN’s recent hotel food and beverage coverage highlights how the shifting landscape of hotel F&B includes everything from in-room drinks to high-concept “Instagrammable” restaurant experiences.
GLOBAL REPORT—Trends within hotel food and beverage are as dynamic as anything within the hotel industry.
Over the past few months, Hotel News Now has spoken to F&B experts around the globe to share their insights and opinions on what are the best and most innovative changes in everything from how hotels respond to dietary restrictions to keeping menus healthy and interesting to providing more dynamic in-room drink options.
Here are some of the takeaways from the past six months of HNN’s F&B coverage:
Guests’ dietary restrictions increasingly continue to get more particular, as more of them adhere to things like the keto diet or seek out gluten-free and cage-free items on menus, in addition to those who want vegetarian or vegan options and guests with food allergies.
So some hotels are turning their special menu options into marketing tools during the booking process. RAR Hospitality President and CEO Robert Rauch said front-desk attendants are even trained to brief guests on their menu options.
“We added these kind of sod items because we saw what guests were asking for, and we listened to them,” Rauch said. “The keto diet is new and popular, and guests are asking for gluten-free and vegan items as well.”
Scott Gingerich, SVP of restaurants and bars at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, said it’s becoming more common for guests to have specific restrictions.
“We receive feedback from our guests and service staff as to which items are frequently requested and make sure to have them on hand,” he said. “We also make sure our catering sales team and servers let meeting planners and guests know that we’re flexible and try to accommodate their dietary needs whenever possible.”
Some of 2019’s top F&B trends include making things more experiential and shareable on social media, but that’s also balanced with the rise of easy grab-and-go options and more traditional dining experiences.
Greg Griffie, SVP of F&B at Davidson Hotels & Resorts, believes “authentic, well-concepted restaurants that create Instagrammable experiences are more relevant than ever.”
But Teddy Bouroncle, director of F&B at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, noted removing friction from the F&B experience is also key.
“Our guests want food selections that are quick so they can enjoy more time outside at the beach and around the pool,” he said via email. “Based on this trend, we have recently introduced grab-and-go healthy breakfast bowls, such as the overnight chia bowl and the acai bowl at our Gelato & Co. outlet.”
An F&B concept that works perfectly at one property won’t necessarily do the same at every other hotel in every other market, and hoteliers are tasked with finding the right concept for the right hotel.
Danny Bortnick, VP of restaurant concept development at Kimpton, said that process is “an art as much as there is a science to it,” and it’s driven from everything from market dynamics to architecture.
“Some people would think ‘I can do an Italian restaurant in any building; it doesn’t matter the shape or the size.’ But we don’t take that same approach,” he said.
Minibars are anything but cutting edge, and some hoteliers are thinking of more creative and dynamic ways to offer guests interesting and unique in-room drink experiences.
The Godfrey Hotel Boston, for example, offers an in-room bloody mary cart with house-made bloody mary mix, pickled garlic, fresh celery and other drink garnishes, said Paul Sauceda, corporate director of sales and marketing at the hotel.
And the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach has a “Beverage Butler” service that makes daily rounds to guests making cocktails of their choice.
“We believe F&B is where the guest experiences are created and enhanced, so why not take advantage of it, and create memorable moments?” said Mutlu Kucuk, GM at the hotel.
The seasonality of menus is always key, and hoteliers in the U.S. planned ahead for the most recent winter, creating new and innovative options for guests.
“We start the menu planning process about five weeks prior to launch and spend time reviewing market trends and seasonal products available from local suppliers, as well as top-and-bottom sellers,” said Patrick D’Amico, executive chef at the Renaissance Philadelphia’s Chez Ben restaurant. “Then we brainstorm dishes and test them as specials to see how they are received and to get the service team familiar with them. Once the dishes are honed and the recipes are fully developed, we’ll launch them on our set menu.”
Hotel F&B isn’t all about drinks and full meals, though. Often travelers are looking for some lighter fare that will help them maintain healthy habits while they’re on the road.
Ritchard Cariaga, executive chef at the Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, said his property strives to give guests easy snacking options throughout the day, including things like hummus, salsa, salads and guacamole from fresh ingredients grown on property. He said this ethos even extends to drink options.
“We … love to use shrubs that we have created from overripe fruits and herbs that may not be used otherwise,” he said via email. “Our shrubs are used in the Cocktails in the Kitchen cocktail making classes, and this summer we served slushies and mocktails featuring our shrubs at the pool. One particular shrub that was very popular was the strawberry-lemon mixed with vodka. Today we are featuring a blueberry, ginger and cinnamon shrub that goes great with bubbly cocktails.”