As hotels continue to evolve into ‘destinations’, the race is on to lure both their guests and non-guests with food and beverages that keep them coming back for more. Hotels are partnering with specialty restaurant designers and celebrity chefs to dish up extraordinary culinary experiences that are turning their establishments into hot spots in their own right.
Where it began
Following the Global Financial Crisis, hoteliers searched for new ways to make money beyond revenue per available room (RevPAR). Hotel chains such as US lifestyle brand, Kimpton began to shift their mindset towards food and beverages (F&B) as the next biggest opportunity to increase hotel income. As part of their growing quest to be lifestyle and community centric, hotels have realised the potential to connect more with the restaurant scene outside their front doors, creating an exciting F&B hub for guests as well as locals.
The past decade has seen five-star hotels and boutique properties engaging skilled restauranteurs, specialty designers and lifestyle groups to provide creative dining and reimagined offerings. High-end hotel brands are transforming their fine dining restaurants into accessible and affordable concepts including lounges, cafes and bars, to offer their patrons more variety. As part of this trend, hotel lobbies and bars are back in style and interactive culinary experiences have found their place.
The era of the celebrity chef restaurant
Recognising that corporate and other travellers are increasingly seeking opportunities to be ‘culinary travellers’, more hotels are offering locally contextual dining experiences where seasonal produce from the neighbouring area is the hero, crafted by renowned food artisans. Hotels are seeing the value of combining their own high-end brand with that of a chef who has the ability to create Michelin-qualilty food and the star power to attract a ‘following’.
The Hilton group, for example, is collaborating with globally renowned celebrity chefs across the world to explore new cuisine territories and cater to diverse tastes. These chefs include Jereme Leung, with whom Hilton has partnered at the Waldorf Astoria New York, Conrad Manila and Conrad Maldives.
Hilton’s Director Global Travel Industry Relations - Asia Pacific Angelia Chew says, “Hilton’s collaboration with such esteemed chefs is part of the group’s response to hotel guests and locals living in the city becoming more discerning in their F&B choices.
“Hilton is now developing multiple cuisines and more authentic and innovative culinary concepts within highly flexible spaces, which are continuing to draw new audiences and exceed diners’ expectations.”
“The Tsunohazu in Hilton Tokyo and Opus Bar & Grill in Hilton Singapore are key examples of Hilton restaurants that are now seen as exciting dining destinations.”
As the F&B revolution continues and chefs become ever more creative in the kitchen, they will offer corporate travellers more dining options to enjoy where they stay, more ways to explore local cuisine and culture, and more fine-dining alternatives to suit all corporate budgets and more supplementary income for the hotel.
A taste of what’s on offer around the world
Cookbook Café – Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane, London
This cozy nook inside London’s Intercontinental Hotel champions the best of modern British cuisine, with live cooking stations providing a more communal dining experience. The Cookbook Café is a spectacular brunch and often voted one the best in the city.
The National at The Benjamin, New York City
One of New York City’s most popular restaurants resides inside The Benjamin, a Denihan’s property located in midtown NYC. Food Network’s iron chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, is the visionary behind The National, which offers experiences inspired by both the grand cafes of Europe and classic American dining rooms.
Restaurant La Scène at Prince de Galles Hotel, Paris
Situated in a Luxury Collection Hotel in Paris, Restaurant La Scène offers gastronomic ingenuity from its open kitchen surrounded by marble, wood, light and Murano glass. Seasonal dishes boast pure and generous compositions that provoke surprise and emotion, while the Sommelier’s selection of champagnes are presented on a shining silver cart.
Spoilt for choice in Australia
Australian hotels have adopted celebrity chefs with gusto! These include Pete Evans’ Asana restaurant at the Capri by Fraser hotel in Brisbane, Luke Mangan’s exquisite lunch and dinner menus at the Glass Brasserie in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel, and Guy Grossi’s signature Italian restaurant, Merchant, in Melbourne’s Rialto Hotel.
The Crown Melbourne complex features Guillaume Brahimi’s French-inspired Bistro Guillaume, Sean Tan’s world-class Japanese restaurant Nobu, and Neil Perry’s award-winning Rockpool Bar and Grill. It also features the 2-Michelin-star Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which is inspired by the rich gastronomic history of The Royal Courts of Britain.
Destination restaurants and bars, Edwardian Hotels, London
More than just your average restaurant and bar, Edwardian Hotels has specifically designed their in house restaurants to be ‘destinations’ in their own right. From the MKB in Guildford, one of the celebrated cocktail bars in Surrey, to modern British cuisine at Scoff & Banter at Bloomsbury, Canary Wharf, Kensington, Leicester Square and Oxford Street, each restaurant offers individual taste and flair to suit guests and locals alike.
The latest addition, Monmouth Kitchen at Seven Dials is sure to please, with the recreation of culinary delights from the Mediterranean and South America. For contemporary Indian cuisine, Annayu Restaurant at Heathrow blends classic and creative ingredients to take the traveller on a culinary journey.