This is part two in a series on hotel restaurant operations. Click here for part one: Hotel restaurants offer challenges and opportunities.
Guests care about where their food comes from, and are more knowledgeable about health than ever before. "Local sourcing" has long been an industry buzzword when it comes to food-and-beverage operations, but it's a proven concept that increases the validity of a hotel restaurant.
For Thierry Blouet, chef of the Café des Artistes at the JW Marriott Los Cabos in Los Cabos, Mexico, the location of his hotel has been a boon when it comes to local sourcing. The property sits on the sea, and is 20 minutes from farms growing organic produce that is shipped to the property. Furthermore, Blouet is excited by today's guests, who are interested in what is on their plates.
"I remember 25 years ago when I started, you could try to do great things [in the kitchen], but people didn't care as much," Blouet said. "Now people are more educated. They want to learn. They ask. It's fantastic to have people that travel more and are educated about food because we can really share what we love to do."
According to Mark Anderson, VP of food and beverage for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the days of guests not being conscious of wellness are gone. From his perspective, sustainability in seafood, locally grown and harvested vegetables and verification of organic produce will continue to grow in popularity in part because these measures also mean that guests are getting something unique to their destination.
"The industry is moving toward lighter fare," Anderson said. "Guests want the taste of locality. We, as a company, are evolving our products in each geographic location. The artisanal approach is so important."
"Guests are certainly more educated today, as they should be," said James Draper, chef at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville (Fla.) Riverfront. "Beyond local sourcing, we focus on health options when writing our menus."
By constructing menus with the goal of providing healthy options, Draper's property manages to balance a selection of gluten-free, vegetarian and specifically proportioned meals. What allows this system to work, according to Draper, is that it places guests in the driver's seat of their meal, affording them the option of eating healthy on the road.
"Do table visits, solicit as much feedback as possible," Draper said. "Be available, listen to guests. They will tell you what they want and what they need if you really listen."