IHM Multimedia Reporter Isha Borkar talks to award-winning chefs, restaurant general managers and F&B concept developers about what it takes to be a successful destination restaurant.
Post-pandemic, destination hotels and restaurants are on the rise. hilton’sreveals that nearly half of surveyed travelers will seek more immersive and authentic cultural experiences this year. also revealed that 81% of global travelers agree that trying local foods and cuisines is what they most look forward to while traveling in 2023, and 47% of Gen Z and millennials report planning a trip complete to visit a specific place. restaurant. 66 percent of this demographic is inspired by social media to find out where and what to eat.
Hotels and restaurants need to stand out to appear on the Instagram discover page or TikTok of a popular travel blogger. It is increasingly competitive for places to be recognized. The need to be innovative and experimental while maintaining authenticity is gaining momentum, so BHN spoke to a variety of F&B professionals to learn more about the path to success.
Wayne Brown, global vice president of culinary development at Ennismore’s F&B Concept Lab,, defines destination restaurants as “experiential and immersive, with all the hallmarks of what makes a standout place to visit. This includes a strong history or heritage, great food and drink, and stylish interiors.” He goes on to add that such venues can generate a higher return on investment.
To discover the value proposition of a destination restaurant, research is required; specific target customers and geographic location. Brown says that a destination restaurant doesn’t typically offer breakfast and depends on tourism for its success.
“We spend our time trying to scratch the underbelly of the city and learning all we can to complement the local restaurant scene and community and build something that is unique and can be embraced as our own. We do the same level of research for a concept as our own life savings and are extremely diligent in the process,” he explains.
general manager at , do you agree. He says, “A destination restaurant should have a really special quality,” and it should give guests a reason to travel there. “You have to offer a unique proposition, like an amazing view, an amazing location, or serve really amazing food.”
Galvin at Windows is a modern French fine-dining restaurant overlooking Hyde Park in central London that held a Michelin star from 2007 to 2020. While the views alone might earn Galvin its status as a dining destination, Avis argues that having reliable equipment is integral. to achieve such a reputation.
“It is very important that our guests feel that they are having a truly special experience, especially when they have traveled from far away, and this can only be possible when working alongside a team that is truly trusted. Destination dining is typically a luxury service,” she said.
The quality of food and drinks in any venue will fundamentally define the impression of a guest. It has the power to make any restaurant stand out from its competitors, more visible on the check-in screen. One that stands out on its own merits is a Michelin star.
, Michelin star chef, explains: “Accreditation acts as a great marketing and public relations tool for the business and boosts the sale of an establishment’s products and services. It also helps in recruiting, attracting the best staff and diffusing the restaurant in the industry. A Michelin star also helps in the process of evolution of the establishment, encouraging it to continue innovating and being the best”.
Desai won the Roux Scholarship when he was 29 on his first try and currently works as head chef at the Cumbria Hotel.. He says that a Michelin star requires an incredible amount of discipline to achieve and maintain.
“To obtain a Michelin star, a restaurant must meet five criteria: the quality of the products; mastery of flavor and cooking techniques; the personality of the chef in his kitchen; value for money; and to maintain success, consistency is required between visits by Michelin inspectors.
“A good dish needs research and development through constant trial and error. Originality is the result of creativity and innovation combined with the experience of a chef. Authenticity is born from the personality and conviction of the chef. Ultimately, excellent quality and fresh ingredients are required to elevate a good dish to a great dish. I am very proud that Tandoori Beef Wellington on my new menu perfectly balances all of these elements and has already received rave reviews.”
Fusion-themed cuisines are popular all over the world. One striking element of this, which also works well on its own, is sustainability and respect for the environment.
Michelin star chef and culinary director ofin , Skye Gyngell, stresses: “It’s really important to be authentic and work carefully and conscientiously; We are very aware of the significant impact that hotels and restaurants have on their environment, as well as on the local community. We try to work as carefully as possible, be it for the well-being of our staff, the use of plastics, food waste and the health of the soil.”
Marle at Heckfield Place has aof the Michelin Guide in 2022, awarded for the restaurant’s focus on sustainability. The site has a rustic country theme that ties in well with their goal of serving local, seasonal produce.
Another plant-focused, zero-waste restaurant isin Phuket, Thailand. Chef Rick Dingen oversees the restaurant which is part of – a $182 million wellness community. JAMPA follows a sustainability plan of “local ingredients, live fire and zero waste cooking”.
Dingen explains how they practice this philosophy: “At JAMPA, we are focusing on locally sourced products with a touch of European cooking methods. It means that we are using products from our farm and also from nearby small farmers. It is important to us to showcase locally sourced, seasonal ingredients in the best possible light.”
The central focus of a destination restaurant is the right balance between originality and creativity. Dingen adds: “By creating our ecosystem, you help our guests understand where ingredients and dishes originate from. We believe that what grows together tastes good together.”
When it comes to branded hotels, the balance between originality and creativity can be difficult to strike due to the number of stakeholders involved. For example, the dynamic between the celebrity chef, the hotel owner, and the hotel brand must be collaborative if the restaurant concept is to be successful.
the famous chefhighlights the difference between running a high street restaurant versus a five-star hotel restaurant: “When I run a restaurant like Pollen Street, I’m the master of everything. But when Ian Schrager invited me to develop Berners Tavern, it was more democratic. The secret to his success is listening to people.”
Berners Tavern is a British restaurant in a luxury hotel. Hotelier created the EDITION brand in partnership with .
Atherton goes on to mention how the “corporate structure” of branded hotels and restaurants requires “a lot of management from all sides” to harness the expertise of those involved. “I have experience in the London market, for example: what do people like to eat, why do they like to eat it, the price, the demographics of the people, etc.,” he says. “Marriott’s expertise is in operating hotels, and Schrager’s expertise is in experience design and delivery. His influence in the fashion world really put Berners Tavern on the map when it launched.”
Summarizing her thoughts, Atherton adds: “The key is to listen, be patient, always take advice, and at the same time never lose your own brand integrity.”