Pro-invest Group is investing in food and beverage venues across the hotels it owns and operates – including under the Kimpton, Next, Hotel Indigo, Voco and Holiday Inn Express brands – to enhance experiences for guests and locals.
Leading an expanding in-house F&B team is Pro-invest Group’s Regional Director of Food and Beverage, Jean-Baptiste Robert.
Here, Robert shares some of the key trends he has observed and reveals how Pro-invest Group is striving to take its culinary destinations to new levels.
How has the hotel F&B offering evolved in recent years in your view?
We’ve seen a shift away from F&B being a functional requirement for a hotel’s operation to restaurants and bars becoming a key offering and competitive advantage. A decade ago, hotel F&B wasn’t something people sought after. Now, it’s about creating appealing experiences that suit and respond the city they are in, resonate with the local market and provide creative, on trend venues that sit within or beside hotels to be enjoyed by hotel guests and locals alike.
Importantly too, this shift makes hotel F&B attractive for recruiting acclaimed chefs and upcoming talent to develop and nurture the restaurant and bars into hero outlets. In 2023, it’s hard to think about creating a successful luxury and lifestyle hotel without having a sought-after restaurant and bar to showcase the property and grab the attention of both locals and hotel guests.
What are some of the non-negotiables when it comes to a great hotel bar and restaurant?
Food and drink is how we explore our surroundings, expand our thinking, and enjoy time with others. So, the restaurants and bars we bring to life are as core to travel as a great place to sleep.
We’re not about adding traditional cookie cutter hotel restaurants – our vision is to bring vibrant and creative dining experiences to life that are within or near our hotels. Ones that will be on every hotel guest’s dining itinerary when they stay and sought out by locals. To this end, non-negotiables are drawing on local talent from creating the design of the space to crafting a drinks list, partnering with leading culinary luminaries who have a deep understanding of the local market, bring in upcoming talent, work with quality, local suppliers and then focus on delivering great food, great drinks and great service. Just as any successful restauranteur should.
How can hotels help their F&B venue become a hotspot in the local neighbourhood?
Our approach is to treat the venue as independent, stand-alone restaurants and bars. And have a fluid, flexible mindset able to adapt and respond. Ultimately, hotels have a longer-term strategy and process where guests choose a hotel because they align with the brand and all that entails from the consistent service and room style to the amenities. With restaurants and bars, the product must change all the time from new menus, refreshed drinks lists, seasonal updates, responding to trends – otherwise you lose interest and momentum from the local market. Plus, tailoring marketing activities to suit the local market is key too, drawing on insights specific to that neighbourhood location.
What are some of the standout F&B venues in the portfolio and why?
There are three favourites in the growing Pro-invest Group portfolio that are particular standouts:
BESO – recently opened as part of the Hotel Indigo Melbourne on Flinders development, this restaurant and bar sits alongside the hotel, with its own streetside entrance on Flinders Lane for locals, as well as a fluid connection from the hotel lobby so guests are enticed to discover it. The acclaimed chef’s hatted Ana Garcia is at the helm creating contemporary twists on Spanish classics, all inspired by the flavour of flames. A custom built parilla grill gently kisses each dish with fire. There’s also a cracking wine list of Victorian and Spanish wines, and vermouth of course, which can be enjoyed at the bar along with tapas bites. It’s a place to drop by or linger and is a great addition to the city’s vibrant dining scene that embraces multicultural cuisines.
Luc-San is the epitome of a stand-alone, neighbourhood restaurant while being part of the hotel world. Just opened in collaboration with Pro-invest partner, chef Luke Mangan, this creative French Izakaya with street side entrance only is also part of the company’s soon to open, Hotel Indigo Sydney Potts Point development. Mixing Luke’s love of French and Japanese cuisines, it’s already a buzzing addition to Potts Point and is set to provide room service as well as charge back to room facilities for hotel guests who will find themselves on the doorstep of Sydney’s newest hospitality hot spot.
The Wilmot Bar – a celebration of the classic hotel lobby bar is another stand out. Located within the Kimpton Margot Sydney, this 1930s-style lobby is both grand and relaxing, paying homage to tradition in new ways that everyone can enjoy. The space and atmosphere shifts as the day unfolds, inviting laptops, lattes, and lunch to tipples by night. Who doesn’t love to see a gin trolley pass by your table, an ever-changing cocktail menu, casual bites and jazz sounds as a location to meet, celebrate, start a night out or wind down?
These newest culinary pursuits join La Madonna (one hat) at Next Hotel Melbourne and Izakaya Publico at Hotel Indigo Brisbane City Centre amongst others.
What F&B projects are on the horizon at Pro-invest?
Watch this space, we’re soon to open a new roof top bar at the Kimpton Margot Sydney, set to be a destination within a destination in Sydney. And we’re constantly innovating with offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to meetings and the all-important drinks with friends across all our hotels.