Ever since actress-turned-designer Anouska Hempel turned Browns Hotel into the world’s first boutique hotel, hospitality professionals have been developing new concepts to capture the zeitgeist of the boutique experience.
With investors (and chains like Starwood and Marriott) jostling to enter the market and existing operators reporting healthy occupancy and profits, the sector is booming. A key factor in this strong performance is the focus being placed on reflecting the individuality of each hotel’s personality through its food and beverage offering.
Boutique operators have reflected the design and creativity evident in guest rooms, public areas and overall concepts in their food. What the sector terms ‘restaurants and bars’ have become standalone attractions rather than simply and annexe to the hotels themselves.
Professional restaurants have become involved in the creation, specification of the environments as well as the menus. London’s St Martins Lane Hotel was amongst the first to launch the branded F&B operation when it opened Asia de Cuba in partnership with the famous New York chef Jeffrey Chodorow.
The primary motivation is, of course, financial. Destination restaurants – the ones visited by non-guests as well as residents – can account for up to 50% of a hotel’s total sales.
This is all very well for the luxury sector but what about the independent, regional hotelier. With no disrespect to the citizens of, say Loughborough the ranks of the glitterati are somewhat limited in comparison to the west end.
Personalising your F&B offering:
- Get outside help – there are lots of bright, upcoming chefs with bags of good commercial ideas.
- Do your research; there’s nothing unique about offering the same menus available elsewhere locally.
- Create a new destination – remember you are competing with other restaurants locally – not just other hotels.
- Give your restaurant (and bar) a unique identity.
- Make sure the eating (and drinking) environment reflects the menu – and vice versa.
- Use local produce and suppliers – and promote the fact that you do so.
- Remember that good food, cooked well always sells.