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Food and travel go hand-in-hand. Part of exploring a new place or culture is experiencing the local cuisine. Now more than ever, travelers are expecting hotel restaurants to go above and beyond their expectations and not only provide top quality lodging experiences, but also the best food experiences the destination has to offer. As with the larger food and restaurant industry, consumer preferences are changing almost daily. Some of these trends create unique opportunities for hotel restaurants to enhance guest experience. Here are three top trends we’re seeing:

Specialized menus

From “clean” to locally sourced menus, gone are the days where one hotel restaurant caters to all diners. Restaurants are focusing their menus on a specialty theme to cater to guests that know more about their food and new ingredients than ever before.

One way that hotel restaurants are uniquely tapping into this trend is by focusing menus on local ingredients and flavors to appeal to tourists who are seeking out local flare. Guests expect a hotel restaurant to embody their travel destination through the food and drinks offered; the menu sets the tone for the experience. Looking for ways to bring this practice to your menu? Tap into your city’s culture to think of enticing offerings that are unique to your destination. Listen to guest feedback and create menus that cater to what they want.

Another big way that hotel brands have explored the specialized menu movement is through wellness-focused offerings. From Even Hotels’ Cork & Kale restaurants (which feature organic, vegetarian choices and paleo dishes) to the Westin’s Well-Being movement and Eat Well concept (complete with low-calorie, high-antioxidant ingredients), lodging brands are looking to bring specialties to their menus.

Smaller menus

It’s not just the food offerings that are specializing, chefs are cutting down on the number of items offered on a menu. Experts suggest that smaller, simpler menus allow chefs to focus on their dishes and adapt each season to fresher ingredients, without worrying about executing pages of meals.

Chef-driven menus that are smaller and more concise, offering fewer dishes but more focus on an overall tone, have cropped up more and more throughout the restaurant industry. In the lodging sector, this allows local chefs to create menus that aren’t just locally focused but also well-executed, since there are fewer dishes to master. This focus applies to guests as well. Instead of overwhelming guests with endless variety, white space on menus and clean graphics encourage guests to think and consider the food they choose.

Even smaller plates (and glasses)

Tasting menus, in place of entrée-sized meals, are proving to be popular among travelers as well, as more people look to take a bite out of their destination, literally. Tasting menus allow chefs to be creative in their approach to the menu, while allowing guests to sample a smattering of flavors and combinations.

Tasting menus can extend to the bar, too, where beer and drink flights have continued to gain popularity. EATS Kitchen & Bar in Orange County has brought this idea to life through its mimosa flight, offered during brunch. The flight is made up of four pilsner glasses filled with sparkling wine and fruit juices and purees. Beer flights have also proven themselves to be top trends for travelers in recent years. Offering a sampling of flavors, whether mimosas, craft beer or mocktails, not only lets guests get a taste of everything, but broadens their experience of the location.

Sources:
Restaurant Hospitality: 11 trends that will impact restaurants in 2016
Travel Weekly: Focus on Culinary Travel
Hotel F&B: From the Board: The Joy of a Simple Menu
Hotel F&B: Fizz is what it is
Hotel F&B: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Healthy Wolf?
Technomic: Understanding Opportunities in the Hotel/Lodging Channel