The Dish on Hotel Dining Trends
By Bill Marriott
Thursday, 4th February 2010
Historically speaking, hotels, for many years, had some of the best and most popular restaurants around. 

I remember when I was a young boy in grade school, my father used to take me to the Mayflower hotel.  They had a fabulous restaurant with a big, beautiful glass chandelier.  I remember seeing J. Edgar Hoover, the former head of the FBI, who used to eat lunch there every day.

But then, the tide seemed to change and hotel restaurants got a reputation for not showcasing the latest dining trends. People made jokes about the rubber chicken syndrome.  My favorite joke takes place in a hotel restaurant:

A traveling salesman came down for breakfast.  The server approached the table and said, "What will it be?"

He said, "Some eggs over easy and some kind words."

She returned to the kitchen, came back, set down the eggs and turned to go back to the kitchen.  He said, "What about those kind words?"

She said, "Well, don't eat them eggs."

But now, it looks like restaurants in hotels are making a comeback.  I think it's due to the approach we're taking now in our own restaurants with distinct, homegrown concepts and menus that offer food that appeal to a variety of tastes.

We've also been working with celebrity chefs who bring their own sense of style to our restaurants.  Some examples are Melissa Kelly's Primo at our JW Marriott Grande Lakes hotel in Orlando, Florida; Laurent Tourondel's BLT Steak now open in Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona; Eric Ripert's West End Bistro at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Washington, D.C. and June Tanaka's Pearl in our Renaissance Chancery Court hotel in London.

Hotel dining has also evolved beyond the typical restaurant walls to now include great lobby spaces where guests can enjoy a snack or a meal while working, socializing or just relaxing.  This is a trend that can be seen in the M.I. Great Room in Marriott hotels like the Atlanta Marquis or Rive Gauche Marriott in Paris and through The Bistro – Eat. Drink. Connect., that is being rolled out in our Courtyard lobbies.  The combination of comfort, focused food on our menus and comfortable, stylish settings is here to stay.

Brad Nelson, our vice president of culinary and corporate chef, does a great job to make sure we're up to speed on the latest culinary trends, and even writes about it on his blog.  Thanks to him, Robin Uler and the very creative food and beverage group, we're constantly upgrading and expanding our menus to make sure we're current and offering our guests the best food and drinks.

What are some of your favorite culinary trends, old or new?  Please leave a comment and share them with me.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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