Hotel restaurant 're-launches' don't work say GMs

Managers must be more innovative when rethinking failed F&B concepts

Yannis Anagnostakis, area general manager, IHG Dubai Festival City speaking on the 'emerging trends' panel at the 2012 Great GM Debate
Yannis Anagnostakis, area general manager, IHG Dubai Festival City speaking on the 'emerging trends' panel at the 2012 Great GM Debate

Hotels intending to grow revenue through revamping flailing restaurants should instead scrap them and start again, according to panellists speaking at the Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate on September 24.

“A buzzword is ‘re-launch’ – that never works, if you’re at the point were you resort to lightening up the same concept – it probably doesn’t work. You need dedicated restaurant operators who are extremely focused in establishing F&B destinations that stand the test of time,” said Yannis Anagnostakis, area general manager, IHG Dubai Festival City while participating in a panel discussion.

“Around 20 years ago we used to make a menu change and tell the world about it. That doesn’t work now,” he added.

The panellists said hoteliers needed to go back to basics in their F&B offerings, with a key focus on “authenticity”.

“We’re seeing being more and more authentic. I don’t believe in fusion and even in Thai cuisine you have northern and southern Thai,” said Michel Koopman, director of operations for the Middle East, Anantara.

“We’re going back to authenticity - authentic concepts,” continued Anagnostakis, explaining this also applied to offering an authentic experience for guests determined by the hotel’s location.

“Building restaurants is not just for hotel guests, hotel guests want to mingle with locals — they want to go where the locals go,” he said.

Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah area general manager Anders Dimblad said the hotel had launched destination nights, during which diners would be taken to a private property in the emirates for an authentic dining experience.

“For us in RAK it’s a combination of bringing the local community in to dine with us as well as dining with them, and keeping it simple, trying not to over complicate.’

However, with up to 113 hotels in the UAE pipeline each featuring a number of outlets, the hoteliers said it was difficult to stay ahead of the game.

“Dubai is a very vibrant food and beverage scene. It’s difficult to try and stay ahead so we’re always trying to innovate. You bring in a ladies’ night, it’s fantastic and then everyone copies it,” said Le Meridien and Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resor and Marina general manager Stewart Selbie, adding that managers were in the process of developing several new F&B concepts at the resort complex.

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