If its anything to go by, getting the culinary world's bad boy Ryan Clift of the Tippling Club to speak to a group of hoteliers about creativity and innovation in food and beverage exemplifies the unconventional path that global hotel company AccorHotels is taking towards food and beverage.
Clift embodies a rare, obsessive knack for culinary innovation, seen through his approach to modern food and cocktail pairings that is based on a scientific approach. Speaking at AccorHotels' Food & Beverage Academy internal event, he revealed how he partnered with fragrance specialist International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) for the Sensorium menu that recreated the scents of various cocktail drinks to help patrons pick their cocktail of choice. Last year, he launched an edible gummy bear menu, Dreams & Desires.
The same mindset that drives Clift's culinary process is an example that AccorHotels CEO, Global Food & Beverage, Amir Nahai references when explaining how the company is embarking on a "massive transformation in food and beverage".
For a hotel group better known as an expert in rooms, it's a bold approach to break away from its main revenue generator to food and beverage. Over the past year and a half, it has invested in Groupe Noctis, a French events, catering and entertainment company, and is currently working to acquire a 50% stake in sbe Entertainment Group, a lifestyle hospitality company which also operates bars, restaurants and nightclubs in key cities such as Los Angeles and Miami.
It is also tapping into the insights of world-renowned culinary schools and institutes such as Dominique Giraudier, CEO of the Institute Paul Bocuse, a management and training school for hospitality and culinary arts.
With the acquisition of FRHI, parent of Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel brands, AccorHotels saw the opportunity to expand its luxury food and beverage and to make hotel restaurants as popular as free-standing restaurants.
"In that luxury market, we don't cookie-cut. You won't find a Fairmont with the same restaurant in Mumbai that you would find in Singapore or New York. What we're focussing on is the two-kilometre radius from the hotel," said Nigel Moore, VP, Food & Beverage Southeast Asia, AccorHotels.
In the past, hotel restaurants often meant bad lighting, bad drinks and unsocial spaces. But Moore explains that AccorHotels looking to change all that, by giving hotels the right tools and design.
"We don't really need celebrity restaurants that you'd only go to on birthdays or special occasions. It's more about starting to attract people through the vibe of the place, the music, or just the feeling that it's a 'sexy' place to go," Moore concludes.