May 25, 2016

Upping the Hotel Restaurant Game

Hotel restaurants and bars have always been intended as a home away from home for the weary traveler, putting guests at ease and providing consistency. An increased interest in eating interesting foods in engaging settings has led to higher expectations of restaurants in high-end hotels.

This poses several interesting problems, as well as a shifting mentality, amongst hoteliers. Hotel food and beverage outlets of yesterday were commonly regarded as lacking innovation and creative vision, driven by corporate standards over the conditions of local markets, earning them a reputation for stuffy service and overpriced, characterless menus. Traditional hotel fine dining is no longer relevant to emerging foodie culture, and as markets evolve and become more competitive, the need for distinct concepts is ever important. While the in-hotel guest appreciates the convenience of on-property dining options, they are more likely to leave the property for known eateries when they have the opportunity. These consumers are becoming more brand driven. In the past, hotel restaurants needed to appeal to a broad audience, lending to generic concepts lacking distinct identities, ultimately failing to appeal to anybody. This no longer works, as diners are in search of a sense of place, and seek understanding of an establishment upon first impression.

An increased interest in dining paired with an increased willingness to spend money on food and drink results in the potential for increased revenue within the hotel. By developing their own unique concepts that look and feel like freestanding establishments, hoteliers can not only retain their guests, but attract external traffic and avoid profit loss to third parties.

Over the past several years, we’ve had the privilege of working with esteemed brands such as Loews Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Company, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Sotherly Hotels, among others. Our mission, whether overhauling under performing restaurants through renovation and reconcepting or inventing new revenue-generating concepts, has been to position the outlets as independent restaurants and bars that just so happen to be located on hotel property.

Specific strategies help with the success of this challenging task. Working alongside hotel management, often at a local and corporate level, we work to define a concept that appeals to the out-of-towner and local alike. Expanding the market results in greater profits and enhances perception of the hotel itself. Careful analysis of the local landscape allows for a significant degree of differentiation from the competition. A unique and specific brand personality is defined, further disassociating the food and beverage outlets from preconceived notions about on-property options. This includes development of a distinct name, visual identity, and separate website. Furthermore, concept-specific signage, entrances and addresses help to create a strong, independent street presence. We strive to communicate a sense of time and place appropriate to the properties’ location and target markets, characterized by approachable interior spaces with an energetic ambience and lifestyle appeal. Simplified menus are often focused on regional cuisine; a selection of hotel mainstays or comfort favorites are offered in an effort to appeal the masses, but never at the cost of diluting brand messaging.

As a whole, these unique concepts are less traditional than your conventional hotel restaurant. They are hallmarks of authenticity and creativity without sacrificing consistency. Moreover, they overcome the long-established stigma of hotel dining, extending a reputation of outstanding food and drink.

Bank & Bourbon / Loews Philadelphia Hotel (Philadelphia, PA)

Custom logotype lettering is paired with a thoughtful selection of supporting type styles that provide contrast and character. Carefully curated, stylized illustrations and photography lend to a casual vernacular that walks the fine line of irreverance when paired with tongue-in-cheek copywriting.

Precinct / Loews Boston Hotel (Boston, MA)

A mix of modern sans serif and more traditional serif type styles creates an eye-catching and attention-commanding visual approach, while the use of vintage imagery lends an authentic, historic perspective.

Beach Barn / Loews Boston Santa Monica Beach Hotel (Santa Monica, CA)

With its use of playful illustrations and lighthearted copywriting, Beach Barn is a place that is friendly and inviting to all.

St. Johns Provision Company / DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (Jacksonville, FL)

Named after Jacksonville’s St. Johns River, it was imperative that the restaurant’s riverside location and locally-sustainable menu offerings were thematically represented in the logomark and collateral design.

Highball & Harvest / The Ritz-Carlton (Orlando, FL)

In an effort to connect a rustic and relaxed ambience with the iconic nature of the Ritz-Carlton brand, we worked to tell a charming and nostalgic story that reflected the restaurant’s history, culture and offerings.

Proof & Provision / The Georgian Terrace Hotel (Atlanta, GA)

Upon defining the brand’s individual tone and personality, we developed a memorable name for the concept, and from there were able to delve into visual exploration and extensions. Aesthetic choices were made to convey a modern industrialist sensibility that was every bit as unique and hip as it was comfortable.

Community Smith / Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel (Atlanta, GA)

The visual vernacular deliberately complements the approachability of the space and the menu offerings, not to say that either are anything short of classy and sophisticated