Hotels entice guests with fresh winter menus, activities

Hotel operators are conistently faced with the challenge of keeping food and beverage menus current across all seasons, including winter, even after a busy holiday season. Not only does this apply to the ingredients they use, but also the cooking methods they employ, as well as special seasonal features outside of food and beverage.

The Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach, Calif., works closely with food and beverage purveyors to maintain fresh product year-round, while adjusting the menu as needed in the event of a short or irregular season, or changes in quality.

“Keeping the menu current is something we always try to execute, regardless of season, although winter does have its fair share of challenges,” Tim La Duke, Waterfront Beach Resort's assistant director of food and beverage, tells SmartBrief. “We keep in constant contact and have close relationships with our purveyors and partners to ensure that we are getting the best produce and meat available year-round. Our chefs and managers work with items we know are at peak freshness and quality, so our menus are really driven by the understanding that we have a limited window to highlight the season. We make changes regularly if anything doesn’t meet our strict quality standards or if the season runs long or short.”

SALT Restaurant at Marina del Rey Hotel sources from local farmers and creates menus based on what is available in Southern California.

“Most people expect to eat heartier dishes during the winter," SALT Restaurant Executive Chef Mark Gold says. "Braising, confit and cassoulets are just a few of the cooking methods and dishes you see more of in the winter, as well as hard squashes, root vegetables and game.”

Food and beverage operations is one area in which hotels must stay on top of changing guest preferences throughout the year, but it is far from the only way hotels adjust to the changing seasons. The Lexington hotel in St. Paul, for example, installs miniature curling tables and a throne made of ice to appeal to guests’ playful side during the long Minnesota winter. The hotel features a rooftop ice bar, as highlighted by Thrillist.

Waterfront Beach Resort recently opened the Offshore 9 Rooftop Lounge, which features firepits and heaters for guests who want to experience the crisp winter weather.

The Whitecap Mountains Resort in Upson, Wis., invites guests to watch or participate in its annual cardboard sled derby, while the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wis., hosts human dog sled races, according to this Chicago Tribune article.

While outdoor activities abound throughout the winter months, guests still expect to be greeted by something new and interesting when checking out hotel restaurants, whether before or after their adventures. 

The chefs at Waterfront Beach Resort always have the fact that palates change as seasons change front-of-mind when creating a seasonal menu, La Duke says.

"Summer menus often feature fresh vegetables and fruits along with crisp lower fat proteins, whereas a winter menu may rely heavily on a protein to carry its flavor as produce will not be as readily available," he says, adding that they also carry this understanding into beverage programming.

"We may balance a very crisp and refreshing summer menu highlighting local citrus and herb variations with a winter menu that would rely on seasonal spices and warm tones to create a sense of home," he explains. "People are often just as seasonal as the produce we get at the resort."

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