Beverage sales an area of growth for hotels

(Hotel alcohol sales chart)

Hotel bars are often overlooked as sources of creative wine and drink options and an attractive atmosphere, but that is changing. The 2016 VIBE Conference in San Diego included a panel of hotel food-and-beverage experts that discussed why lodging has legs.

The panel was comprised of David Henkes of Technomic; Doug Zeif, SVP of F&B for Next! Hospitality Advisors; John O’Connell, Hyatt’s corporate director of beverage; and Dan Hoffman, Marriott’s director of food and beverage programs (global operations).

According to the panel, lodging is expected to outperform the broader industry going forward. From 2011 to 2015, the hotel segment experienced more growth than on-premise, and this trend is expected to carry on through 2016.

In terms of beverage alcohol sales, the lodging industry generated the retail sales equivalent of $8,384MM. Wine, spirits and beer sales were strong in 2015, with beer generating the majority of beverage alcohol sales. In fact, beer accounted for 40 percent of these sales, while wine accounted for 34 percent and spirits making up 27 percent.

Spirit and cocktail sales, however, are growing.

Cocktail chart

Craft beer growth is having an impact on the presence of import beer on hotel menu, accounting for 44 percent of beer sales in Q3 of 2015. In comparison, also in Q3 of 2015, import beer made up 28 percent of beer sales.

Whiskey has been on an upward trend for the past few years, and this holds true for the hotel segment as well. Whiskey/Bourbon and Scotch whisky made up 51 percent of total spirit items menued at hotels in Q3 of 2015.

One area where hotels have earned acclaim in terms of beverages is wine. The British publication “World of Fine Wine” just released its annual restaurant wine list awards, which drew more than 4,500 entries from around the globe in 2016. 

Wine glasses
The Barn at Blackberry Farm

The overall global winner was Robuchon au Dôme at Hotel Lisboa, with its panoramic view of Macau, where you can sip one of 16,400 labels under its sparkly crystal chandelier and glass dome while dining on three-Michelin-starred contemporary French. The hotel also won for best overall wine list, which the publication called impressive for its depth of producers, vintages, regions, styles. Its labels include all the greatest wines in the world, from Jacques Selosse single vineyard champagnes to 17 vintages of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti’s great white, Montrachet, to page after page of the best red Burgundy and Bordeaux.

And the hotel wasn’t finished. The publication also listed Robuchon au Dôme as the winner in the best dessert and fortified wine list category.

The winner of the best hotel wine list category was The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn. What stands out as the real treat here, according to the publication, is the focus on hard-to-find small producers from California.