Food & Beverage Leaders

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Summary of the panel discussion at the 2017 Stay Boutique Leadership Conference with
Bernard Schwartz, Co-Founder, APICII
Chef Casey Lane
Christian Schultz, Design Director/Partner, Studio Collective

The Stay Boutique conference brought together some of our favorite leaders in hospitality Food & Beverage for a panel discussion that began with the question, ‘How is hotel F&B shifting?’

Bernard Schwartz, co-founder of APICII, believes the biggest shift is definitely in the hotel bar. “Bars are a driving factor to where customers decide to stay. Amenity is now it’s (a hotel’s) identity.” Christian Schultz, Design Director and Partner of Studio Collective, added that because there is so much competition today, “It takes a really well thought out game right now.” Bringing the consumer into the hotel in different ways, like small live music performances, book clubs, or engaging with the local art community also allows your guests the opportunity to interact with locals. “Design only goes so far, but you need to do things to provide a soulful experience for your guests and for the surrounding community,” Christian advised.

When asked why the hotel industry is so slow to respond with a focus on F&B, Chef Casey Lane remarked, “The level of competition makes it a scary risk. It’s hard to find someone to focus their attention on your space.” Bernard pointed out that he believes the slow response may be because, “Historically, the hotel management companies have not invested in F&B at the corporate level.”

Interviewer Jessica Blotter (Co-Founder of Kind Traveler) asked the panel what they thought gives a property the ‘X-Factor’. “It’s the opposite of the big-named, rubber stamp feeling hotel; offering something that has a soul.” Bernard says, adding, “Having a historic property gives you a jumpstart to already having a soul.” Casey’s take on the ‘X-Factor’ is “Really good curation of something that attracts a unique client.” He likes to invite in the community to be a part of what he’s offering as the chef in a hotel restaurant. Christian’s advice on the subject is, “Invest the time upfront to know who you are and what you want to be. Trying to please everyone all the time takes away your unique quality.”

Another current topic that was asked was about was sustainable resourcing and how that affects ROI (return on investment). Casey believes, “It’s a mandate; especially with food.” He advises that setting up a local group, including farmers and designers, helps make sustainable products work for any business. Christian suggests businesses, “Use real, natural materials that patina and wear with age, so hopefully you won’t have to renovate every five years.”

To round out the discussion, the panel shared what they think is working well in hotel F&B design today. Christian’s company, Studio Collective, designs from “location ground zero…our client, the location, something beautiful. New and fresh is what we end up with and it makes it successful in our mind.” Casey suggests, “Everyone can look at your space and tell if it’s an inspired design. Go back to a sense of time and place for that old building.”