One for the Road: Hotel F&B

Welcome to the April edition of One for the Road, our new monthly column where we ask industry experts to weigh in on a theme or topic covered during the month.

For April, we asked


What trends are you currently seeing in hotel F&B?


alison kafalas hilton one for the road

Allison Kafalas, Director of Beverage, Americas, Hilton

In addition to revamping classic cocktails with intriguing umami flavors from duck fat-washed gin to everything bagel flavor and burrata cheese, Allison is seeing the following trends across several hotels in the Hilton portfolio:

"It’s no secret that the espresso martini is here to stay—in fact, it overtook the margarita as the #1 cocktail last year, so I’ve seen many different variations of both the espresso martini and coffee cocktails in general. I agree with this continued craze, but now it’s about going that extra step, such as infusing spirits with coffee beans. This also includes tequila espresso martinis; coffee-infused spirits such as Campari, vermouth, tequila, or vodka; and cocktails with cold-brew ice cubes.”

I also see more and more bars making oleo saccharum, which is just a fancy term for house-made, fruity sugar syrup. You take the fruit peels—mainly citrus fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges, but it can also be done with bananas—and let the peels infuse in white sugar for a day. Then you strain the oil and use it in cocktails as a sweetener in place of simple syrup that naturally features an added flavor punch.”



Randy Tarlow hotel F&B

Randy Tarlow, Founder & President of Liquid Alchemist premium cocktail syrups

“Hotels are now, more than ever, realizing the importance of streamlining their elevated beverage programs. Considering rising labor costs, produce supply issues, spoilage, and general inconsistency of cocktails, made in-house ingredients have become less valuable or a potential liability. Managers are frequently onboarding quality pre-made mixers as a solution. The train of thought being, 'Why DIY when we can purchase products that are equal or better in quality, consistency, or even cost?’

Cocktail syrups have become a trusted go-to brand in the beverage world because of their natural ingredients, national availability, and impressively long shelf life. Boutique and national chains alike, beverage directors depend on the extensive variety of syrup flavors to anchor the cocktails in their program—especially in leveled-up non-alcoholic options. I’ve taken notice of Hyatt Hotels and its “Zero Proof, Zero Judgment” beverage program, while Lowes recently announced their “Free Spirited” program. They’re smart pivots that don’t overlook local suppliers, popular flavors in the region and the creativity of the mixologists.”



tim claapp hotel f&B

Tim Clapp, Director of Food & Beverage, Boston Harbor Hotel

"We're witnessing a surge in popularity of non-alcoholic cocktails within the food and beverage industry. Customers are increasingly drawn to cocktails that not only taste but look incredible without the morning-after effects!"



tom counts boston hotel f&B
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Tom Counts, Director of Sales, Hyatt Centric Faneuil Hall Boston

"We are seeing healthy, creative dishes selling the best. Items that are naturally gluten-free, that provide protein for energy, and enough goods to provide great taste are selling very well. For example, the Blackened Fish Tacos with cajun-spiked haddock, red cabbage, jalapeno slaw, lime crema, scallions, and cilantro are selling very well at Jules on Devonshire. All of our healthy, tasty comfort foods are selling well these days.

The events people celebrate are usually the "big" birthdays: 40-50-55-60, etc., but the days of celebrating a win, business-wise, are not over yet. We are close enough to the courthouse to see people celebrating the fact that they are able to celebrate! It is always great to see someone who has just prevailed in their day in court!

Our busiest times for diners are 7-9:30 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. Everyone is in a rush to get in, get fed, and get out quickly, so the restaurant feels brisk and attentive."



ella guzik hotel F&B denver

Ella Guzik, Director of Food and Beverage, Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver

"Going into the summer season, we are selling more of our light dishes, such as salads and sandwiches.

We probably see 60% hotel guests and 40% outside traffic. Being in the financial district, our lunch service is mainly business-oriented, with outside guests that are in the finance, tech, and legal industries.

We see a lot of job promotions, anniversaries, theatre/date nights, and birthday guests.

[Our most popular times for diners are,] in order from busiest to least, breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner (but on random days, this can go almost the exact opposite with no real trend as to why). We definitely peak during the middle of summer (brunch and happy hour are heavy hitters) and then the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years."



kyle brechtel hotel F&B

Kyle Brechtel, President and CEO, Brechtel Hospitality

“Right now, I'm seeing a throwback to the tavern and inn, where the food and beverage are an integral part of the stay itself. This provides guests with access to unique, location-specific amenities while remaining accessible to the more budget-conscious traveler.”



Ellen Yin hotel F&B

Ellen Yin, Founder & Co-owner, High Street Hospitality Group

"Quality hotel operators like AKA are seeing the value that strong F&B has in attracting hotel visitors. Food tourism is an important part of meeting planners and travelers’ decisions to select specific destinations for leisure as well as business. + bar is not only a destination for locals, but also serves as an important amenity to hotel guests.  We are looking forward to developing that amenity for Hotel AKA Washington Circle where we are outfitting a new restaurant including a major outdoor seating area."



hotel F&B programs
(Courtesy of W Philadelphia)

Isai Xolalpa, Director of Bars and Lounges, W Philadelphia

"Lately, I’ve enjoyed the rise of multisensory cocktails, utilizing spices and herbs to create a cocktail experience that captures the senses, particularly smell, in a bigger way. A good example of a classic cocktail that accomplishes this is a traditional gin and tonic in Spain and Mexico, playing with thyme, rosemary, lavender, mixed berries, and cucumber—simple, yet complex to the nose. At W Philadelphia, we’re excited to introduce a few cocktails this summer that are multisensory, playing with flavors like pink peppercorn, cardamom, cilantro oil, coffee oil, lavender, and more." 



benson wang hotel F&B

Benson Wang, Co-Founder Palm House Hospitality

"At The Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, we are seeing a real shift back to in-person gatherings, and with that, a huge surge in driving human connection and company culture through retreats and off-site events at hotels. Of course, this means the teams are also dining at the hotel restaurants, so large parties and requests for private dining spaces are key. 

Diners are also looking for immersive experiences when they travel, both for work and pleasure. People are looking to be entertained. At The Flamingo, we have started offering blind dating brunches, drag brunches, line dancing lessons, and culinary pop-ups with the best culinary minds in America via Turntable. More and more, we've noticed our guests are looking for interesting and exciting new interactive experiences. 

And diners are craving comfort. In paradox to the above, we see that folks are also really craving nostalgia, only better. They appreciate the local, seasonal, organic takes on the classics. At Lazeaway Club (within The Flamingo Resort & Spa), we are seeing people loving our bibimbap, kracken calamari, and Kahlua pork sliders. At Lazeaway, we take inspiration from the diverse flavors of the Pacific with a Californian sensibility."



hotel F&B
(Kelly Steward)

Kelly Steward, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, California 

"At The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, we have seen tremendous success with our chef-in-residency programs, which includes bringing an omakase experience to Orange County via the New York-based Taikun, and opening KAHANI, a modern Indian restaurant spearheaded by our in-house chef de cuisine dedicated to South Asian weddings, Sanjay Rawat. The novelty of these rare fine-dining experiences has led to an incredibly positive response from guests, Orange County locals, and reinvigorated spirit from our resort team. We are raising expectations around what hotel dining can be through cultural dining experiences that feel modern, yet authentic and completely unique in the city." 



brett anderson hotel F&B

Brett Anderson, Director of Food & Beverage, The LINE Hotels

“Without question the biggest trend is that guests today seem to care more about sustainability and local sourcing than almost anything else. They would rather know that the chef has a personal relationship with the local farmer of hydroponic greens, or that their ribeye is from an organic cattle ranch 20 miles away. Those seem to matter much more than the chef’s professional pedigree or brand.”



Imre Cupani hotel f&b

Imre Cupani, Global VP of F&B Development and Operations, EDITION Hotels

"Experiential and immersive dining concepts are continuing to flow deeper into hotel restaurants. Today, quality of product and value for money is an expected norm, and guests are looking for an extra layer to enhance their dining experiences. This goes far beyond the “Instagram moment” and can be seen in restaurants that are incorporating more engaging elements, like captivating tableside preparations—as we do at Tides at The Reykjavik EDITION and Michelin-starred Lilac at The Tampa EDITION—or a musical element, seen in restaurants like Delilah at The Wynn, as a form of dinner theatre. I think we’ll also see technology play a role in immersive experiences, as guests can control their own journey."



dan delgado hotel F&B

Dan Delgado, Agave Spirits Master, Sendero at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles

"Hotel bars should never be overlooked as they're often located within some of the most beautiful rooms on property and are designed to offer something special to visiting guests and locals. The Agave Library at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles is tucked away behind iron doors with a striking view of the Los Angeles skyline. A destination for agave-based spirit enthusiasts, the bar holds an impressive library of rare and small batch tequila, mezcal, and more for tastings and cocktails. Sendero's executive chef, Kevin Luzande, designs seasonal tasting menus where each dish harmonizes with specific tequila and mezcal pours. There's nothing like it in the city."



Cari Hallman hotel F&B

Cari Hallman, Senior Director of Food & Beverage Marketing at Crescent Hotels

"At Crescent Hotels, the trend we have noticed, specifically among our city center hotels, is the urge guests have to be embedded in the culture of a place. In fact, we have recently pivoted at our New York City hotel, 33 Seaport, to introduce a new dining concept, Urban Cove Society & Kitchen, which embodies this trend. The menu not only reflects the type of dishes our guests have told us they want but is deeply rooted in the history of the South Street Seaport neighborhood where the hotel is located. So, for example, we infused a lot of seafood as a nod to when the area was the city's main source for freshly caught fish.

We have also noticed, on the cocktail side, that guests are more knowledgeable than seemingly ever before about spirits—not only the type of spirits but the brands in each category. So we have incorporated into our cocktail menus the ability to start with your favorite spirit and create the drink you prefer that way, as well as giving guests the opportunity to do tasting flights to discover new spirit varietals they might enjoy. We have also spotted a return to the popularity of classic cocktails. While we still give our mixologists the opportunity to be creative and come up with unique drinks to share with guests, our cocktail menus include a nod to tried-and-true drinks because we are seeing more and more patrons at our hotel bars and restaurants requesting those."



jimmy lebron hotel F&B

Jimmy Lebron, Corporate Executive Chef, Generator and Freehand Hotels

"I would say overall hotels are trying to improve their F&B outlets and get away from more traditional offerings like continental breakfast and banquet rooms. [They are] trying to entice other hotel goers and locals and offering an all-in-one experience with great cocktails, dinner, day parties, and night scene."



fernano mulet playa hotels & resorts

Fernando Mulet, Chief Investment Officer, Playa Hotels & Resorts

“We believe that the exceptional focus we have placed on our food & beverage offerings has been a pivotal factor in Playa's transformation of the all-inclusive sector. There is little need to dwell on the traditional perceptions associated with all-inclusive resorts, which were historically known for their expansive buffets where the emphasis was on quantity over quality. Over the years, we have been instrumental in reversing this trend, elevating the standard with innovative concepts, à la carte dining, superior quality food, and, of course, Playa’s service from the heart.”



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