POSTED BY: Gary Gleeson

The wrong hotel restaurant branding can eat your lunch!

10th May, 2018

The wrong hotel restaurant branding can eat your lunch!

There is one thing that you can usually rely on – hotel restaurants are going to be overpriced, bland affairs, disappointing in their food offer and decor. The corporate traveller who has arrived late takes up the receptionist’s suggestion to dine in the hotel restaurant only to end up sitting alone in a vast, empty space with charming elevator music as company along with an over-attentive waiter. Sound familiar?

But things are starting to change in some of the more progressive, upscale hotel brands. They are no longer motivated by what the revenue manager thinks will drive spend and instead are looking to create a unique concept for the restaurant, according to Alex Taylor, senior vice president of restaurants and bars at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.

“Rather than creating a unique concept for the restaurant specifically, hotel restaurants often end up as a last-minute addition to the larger enterprise. For hotel restaurants to be fresh and well received, they need to be concepted and treated as a unique business entity separate but compatible with the hotel.”

Dedicated restaurateurs create offerings full of nuance with careful attention to detail. The restaurant should no longer be thought of as an extension of the lobby but as a space where there is a different offering in food and price point. This is where a specialist restaurant interior designer who understands these nuances can help bring this concept to life along with a specialist hospitality brand agency.

Yes, fine dining will always have its place in luxury hotels, but clients spending multiple nights on property are not always looking to spend 100 euros a head and instead want options. White tablecloths and stiff service are no longer seen as a great night out.

“It’s more about hospitality than service, having a good time rather than a perfect time,” according to Luke Mathot of Fairmont Raffles Hotels.

A few years ago, The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel moved its 1888 Chop House from classic fine dining to a more casual steakhouse and instantly saw more demand from customers and locals. I’m often asked “How do you make our hotel restaurant a destination restaurant?” It really is treating it as a separate entity, in food offering, service, branding and interior design. If you can even give it its own entrance, all the better.

I’ll leave the last word with Alex Taylor:

“One of the biggest challenges as a management company is that we need to convince owners to invest in talented restaurant and bar professionals, so they can give those professionals the power and room to operate and create, and ultimately practice their craft. You can’t be a top hotel with a mediocre restaurant – the modern guest is very savvy and will hold it against you.”


Gary Gleeson, Partner

Gary is a Partner at Neworld, a brand & creative design agency with over 30 years experience developing brands to position them for future growth. Gary has worked with some of Ireland’s biggest brands such as Diageo, John Rocha and O2 and is a recognised expert in hospitality branding, working with Fade St Social, Powerscourt Hotel, Mount Juliet and Adare Manor to name but a few. His belief in branding and its relationship with design effectiveness has seen him guide a myriad of companies through the branding maze. He realises client visions using this synergy of strategic branding and design. He is also the self-professed champion of chilli-making!