Inspiring the American Experience, Historic Hotels within Teneo’s Growing Portfolio Shape 21st Century Meetings & Events
Eden Prairie, MN, July 2017 … A Beaux Arts mansion where John Jacob Astor and F. Scott Fitzgerald once wined and dined. The Residence of Presidents including Lincoln, Grant, and JFK. A Pacific palace where royalty rested and film stars frolicked on the beach. Lavish symbols of Old Florida when the Twenties roared and the Jazz Age played. A splendid salute to the Old South with a famous flock of ducks parading daily in the lobby.
America’s past is present in these historic hotels that span the United States from Boston’s Back Bay to San Francisco’s Nob Hill. Once dazzling symbols of the country’s cultural, political and social history, some of these iconic hotels fell upon tough times as fortunes were made and lost and neighborhoods fell from social grace. Today, thanks to responsible and painstaking restoration programs and billions of dollars in investments, these pink palaces, proud towers, colonial manors and ornate mansions are no longer fading relics of bygone days. Splendidly restored to their glory, they are highly relevant in a new era of hospitality. As independent and small brand properties, they offer maximum opportunities to professional planners and their conferees for unique, memorable, one-of-a-kind meeting and event experiences.
“In this new era, authenticity, originality and a unique guest experience are essential to the success of a meeting or event,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the premier global firm representing 300+ independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and DMCs. “A historic hotel, renovated and equipped with the latest technology, delivers on all counts. Today’s planners and guests demand a singular venue, a commitment to authenticity and the most current technology. A historic hotel can provide all those elements to create a productive, memorable meeting. Often independently owned and operated, historic hotels are less bound by strict corporate policies and enjoy greater flexibility and creative freedom,” Schugt notes.
Teneo Hospitality Group’s members include more than a dozen historic hotels in the United States, several of them are designated as national landmarks. These properties have undergone extensive and expensive renovations that expanded public spaces and added new facilities while staying within the strict parameters set by local and national conservation bodies. All have installed new, state-of-the-art technology to meet both the needs of conference planners and guests and to operate on a highly sustainable level in every aspect of hotel services.
Teneo members also include Destination Management Companies in the same areas, which can enhance the historic hotel experience with original, exciting programs that showcase the best of each area’s storied past and dynamic present. Set sail on an America’s Cup yacht over Newport Harbor, tour California wine country, and dance in a Victorian ballroom overlooking the Pacific where King Edward VIII once waltzed.
Many of Teneo’s historic hotels played a key role in political life as well as the social scene. The Willard InterContinental Washington, DC, was a political hot spot from its earliest days as a restaurant and collection of boarding houses. The hotel first opened in 1847 on Pennsylvania Avenue, just steps from the White House and over the years hosted every president from Franklin Pierce to JFK, earning its name “The Residence of Presidents.” By 1860, The Willard was the center of debate over secession and Unionists and Secessionists were so divided they entered the building via separate doors. In 1901, a new and ultra-luxurious Willard was built, and it was brilliantly restored in the 1980s. It now stands as one of America’s most prestigious hotels. Another fabled Washington, DC hotel, The Hay Adams, emerged in Italian Renaissance splendor in the 1920s, on the site of two town houses once owned by prominent Washingtonians John Hay and Henry Adams. In a nod to the hotel’s Jazz Age roots the Hay Adams maintains an exclusive “speakeasy”, Off the Record, a favorite of DC insiders.
As great fortunes were made in the 1920s, newly minted tycoons built fabulous hotels. Florida was a favorite destination of the rich and many flocked to the “Pink Palace”, the Don CeSar in St. Petersburg. Also true to the era, The Biltmore Miami Coral Gables maintained a speakeasy and card game on the 13th floor.
Prohibition yielded some of America’s most iconic cocktails and historic hotels were up to the challenge of masking the harsh taste of illegal alcohol available during Prohibition. French 75s, Sidecars, Southside’s and Old Fashioned all flowed freely. Today, they are back on the bar menu and a favorite of Millennial guests and nostalgic drinkers, alike.
Farm-to-table dining can be traced to Boston’s lauded Omni Parker House, which in the 1850s boasted its own farm to supply guests and diners with the freshest ingredients, including butter for their famous Parker House Rolls. A literary hub for New England’s most famous writers, The Omni Parker House also hosted Charles Dickens where he recited and performed, A Christmas Carol, reading it to a rapt audience of Boston literary lions. The hotel’s kitchen once employed two famous political leaders: Ho Chi Minh was a baker there and Malcolm X, a busboy. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse worked as a sous chef before setting out for New Orleans.
Hoteliers in San Francisco, inspired by the city’s steep hills and stunning views, forged the concept of the Rooftop Bar and none is more famous than The Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins. The hotel was built by a railroad magnate in 1926, and the bar and restaurant added in 1939.
Opulent, Beaux-Arts architecture appealed to the tycoons of the era who were investing in new hotels. Examples of this lavish style are found in New York’s recently relaunched The Knickerbocker Hotel, once a palatial property owned by JP Morgan and now born again as an elegant Times Square hotel. The Willard InterContinental Washington D.C., Boston Park Plaza and Sir Francis Drake and Stanford Court in San Francisco have preserved the elaborate ornamentation, bannisters, balconies, columns, cornices, pilasters and triangular pediments that mark this extravagant architectural style.
Equally rich appointments can be found in the Italian Renaissance style of The Peabody Memphis. First opened in 1869 and reconstructed in 1925, the impeccably restored hotel is a hub of the city’s business and social life. Each day, the legendary Peabody Ducks march through the lobby and swim in its fountain to the delight of guests.
In Nashville, The Hermitage Hotel took the Beaux Arts and Italian Renaissance styles to new and extravagant levels. Opened in 1910, the hotel featured marble floors, walls and columns as well as ornate ornamental plasterwork. The original chandeliers still hang from the lobby’s spectacular painted glass ceiling. Guestrooms were paneled in mahogany and equipped with such “new features” as running ice water and a telephone. U.S. presidents from William Howard Taft to President Bush visited the hotel, as did Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth and Country Music legends from Hank Williams and Patsy Cline to Johnny Cash.
Another famous historic property, The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, had a humble beginning as a residence for immigrant workers recruited by the Kohler Company, makers of bath and plumbing fixtures. The elegant Tudor building once contained a pub and a bowling alley for the residents. Today, it is one of America’s premier resorts with a championship golf course and the Kohler Experiential Learning Center, noted for its teambuilding and leadership programs.
The Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island, sits on the city’s premier address, Bellevue Avenue, along which New York’s fabled “400” built their spectacular “summer cottages.” Its graceful architecture and newly renovated interiors recall Newport’s Colonial days as a thriving seaport and later as a yachting center. Built in 1926, The Viking is named for a band of Norsemen who may or may not have established a colony in Newport in 1120. They are said to have built a mysterious stone tower near the hotel that still stands.
Hoteliers accept major challenges and responsibilities in managing a historic property. Maintaining the hotel, meeting rigorous requirements from local, state and federal preservation bodies, operating with an elevated level of sustainable practices while incorporating 21st century technology demands commitment and creativity. In some cases, that obligation extends to the land surrounding the hotel. At Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, the hotel meticulously maintains its stunning Pacific beachfront, a favorite spot for parties, teambuilding, and top-flight entertainment. In Pennsylvania, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, dating back to 1796 and set amidst the Allegheny mountains, preserves ancient hot springs that first drew the likes of America’s Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams took the waters here, and the springs still feed the hotel swimming pool, one of the nation’s first, where musicians once played while hotel guests swam.
Despite the challenges and initial expense, a historic hotel is an excellent long-term investment, according to Darrell Tamosuinas, Teneo’s CEO. “These buildings were constructed to last and retain a level of craftsmanship and architectural authenticity not being built today,” Mr. Tamosuinas says. “They recall a time when Americans were on the move, building, exploring, creating and incorporating the best of the Old World with the energy and vision of the New, and today provide a destination experience unlike any other.”
That experience is enhanced by state-of-the-art-technology and embraced by a new generation. Thanks to committed hoteliers and investors, we can again imagine the glamour of a Gilded Age when princes and presidents, moguls and movie stars dined, danced, dealt and forged America’s history. These immersions into the best of the past while leaping forward into the 21st century are uniquely available to professional planners and their conferees at historic properties. As independent and boutique brand hotels and resorts, they offer unlimited opportunities for one-of-a-kind meeting, group teambuilding and event experiences.
Top 10 Food & Beverage Trends for 2017 from Teneo Hospitality Group Chefs, Luxury and Independent Properties Take Lead meeting New, Diverse Demands
Eden Prairie, MN, January 2017 … The food revolution that swept America’s tables all the way to the White House has reached the kitchens of the country’s hotel and resort ballrooms and banquet spaces. Chef-led, millennial-driven, and embracing the issues of sustainability, sourcing, wellness and diversity, the 2017 food & beverage trends show an increasingly complex and sophisticated market.
“Today’s hotel and group banquet guests have new and highly diverse dining requirements and demands,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the leading professional group meeting sales organization bringing together 300 hotels, resorts and destination management companies worldwide with professional meeting and event planners. “Luxury and independent hotels are well-positioned to provide customized culinary solutions to planners, as they are less restricted by brand corporate procedures and purchasing requirements. This has resulted in an explosion of culinary creativity, and has made local sourcing of ingredients much easier, providing chefs detailed knowledge of how vegetables are grown and how animals are raised.”
Teneo recently addressed food & beverage trends at its Annual Summit, partnering with guest Executive Banquet Chef Stefan Peroutka of The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. A native of Austria who has cooked in several acclaimed restaurants in Europe and the United States, Chef Peroutka brings the same creative vision and commitment to excellence to group events.
“I believe that a key factor to longevity and success in this industry is based on a simple concept that I refer to as an ‘HONEST Food Program’,” said Chef Peroutka. “It is built on delivering fresh and real ingredients that are prepared with proper technique and passion, always setting out to preserve the integrity of all ingredients used. This is the basic concept to building great culinary programs.”
Top 10 Group Food & Beverage Trends
Trend #1 Local and Sustainable
Sourcing and using locally-raised meat and produce is the most productive way to meet the changing requirements for healthy dining while reducing a hotel’s or resort’s carbon footprint. Chefs are assured of fresh ingredients and much more intensive knowledge of the food they are buying and serving. Says Chef Peroutka, “Increasingly, group meeting and banquet guests want to know where their food comes from, how it is raised and fed, and they have a right to that information.” For example, meat from grass-fed cows, raised without hormones is far healthier and tastier. By buying locally, a chef can assure guests from personal knowledge that their dinners come from animals that have been naturally and humanely raised. Indeed, animal welfare is a growing concern, especially among millennials. Buying from local farms will also greatly reduce transportation costs and emissions.
Trend #2 Natural, Minimally Processed Foods
Creative chefs throughout the country are leading a movement to educate and excite their customers about experiencing foods as close to their natural state as possible, and not overly seasoned or processed. As healthier, plant-based ingredients replace processed food and awareness of the dangers of sodium, sugar and saturated fat grows, Americans are demanding healthier food at meetings and banquet events.
Trend #3 New Cuts of Meat, Non-traditional Fish, Meat Versus Plant
Animal-based proteins will assume a more secondary role in 2017 as chefs respond to guest’s individual diet preferences for more sustainable and healthier eating habits. Look for a greater use of vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes as part of the protein intake at group dining events. Since some fish have become scarce, more abundant species such as mackerel, rock fish and skipjack are now trending as healthy protein sources. To make food more sustainable and affordable, chefs are using a variety of cuts of meat – not just breasts, shoulders, and legs, but the entire animal.
Trend #4 Healthful Snacks
New and healthier snacks are coming on the market, impacting both what is offered at hotels and resorts, in meetings, and what individuals purchase or prepare for themselves. Planners have long seen the need for energy-boosting break-out items such as fruit, nuts and yogurt. These will be joined by seaweed and plant-based snacks, and smoothies made with nut-based milks rather than dairy.
Trend #5 Ethnic-Inspired Breakfast Items
An increasingly diverse American population now consumes a breakfast that goes well beyond bacon and eggs, and international attendees bring their own preferences. Many Europeans start the day with a variety of breads and charcuterie from prosciutto and salami to pâtés. Middle Easterners enjoy spreads and salads, while Latin Americans prefer spicier breakfast entrees with meats, eggs and empanadas. In 2017, look for fruits such as pomelo, star fruit, mangosteen, red bananas, pomegranates and Asian pears for breakfast. Hot and flavorful cereals such as congee mixed with vegetables or even spicy Korean kimchee makes a flavorful change from bland oatmeal. Popular breads will include pita, nan, flatbread, and tortillas for build-your own breakfast burritos.
Trend #6 Bolder Flavors
The phenomenal success of Siracha sauces and wide exposure to spicy ethnic foods such as Thai and Indian cuisine, make today’s guests far more adventurous diners, particularly among millennials. With an international mix of conference attendees, planners must explore ways to incorporate these items on restaurant and conference menus.
Trend #7 Hybrid Cuisine
Hybrid Cuisine evolved from the fusion food trend, which sometimes resulted in dishes that were more confused than fused. Hybrid cuisine is all about respecting the craft and traditional techniques of two culinary worlds and combining items into a harmonious well balanced dish. For example, it could be as simple as Korean fried chicken combined with a daikon Kimchee turned into a slider with miso mayonnaise.
Trend #8 House Made / Artisan Items
This trend is about creating a unique, individualized and memorable experience for guests – all produced and customized in house. This could be a small consumable item that is property-or event-specific … something a guest can take away with them, and which can later transport them back for a few moments to re-experience the event. This may be house-made snack mixes, gourmet popcorn, macaroons, or small jars of house-made jams, chutneys, mustards or infused seasoning salts.
Trend #9 Grab & Go with Mobile Apps
Like many current food trends, this is driven by busy, tech-savvy millennials. At conferences, attendees can use hotel or meeting apps to access interactive menus through personal mobile devices, ordering freshly prepared menu items for quick pick up without the wait. The apps can also be used to order to a vendor booth or break-out meeting space, for fast convenient service.
Trend #10 Cocktails, Mocktails and More
Beverages can make an event, and the emphasis should be quality and innovation over quantity. Many classic cocktails are making a comeback, including Manhattans, Side Cars and French 75s. America’s very own whisky, Bourbon, is giving Scotch a run for its money and gin lovers can now choose from a variety of tonics for their G & Ts. Talented mixologists are mixing their own infusions from fresh ingredients. Locally brewed craft beers and local wines enhance the overall dining experience and also contribute to sustainability.
Nondrinkers don’t want not be limited to simple water or chemically laden soft drinks. Planners can provide non-alcoholic beverages that are imaginatively presented. Fortunately, the current concern with health and safety has given rise to Mocktails, alcohol-free takes on mojitos, Cosmos, Martinis and Bloody Marys with infusions of fresh fruit and colorful garnishes.
In conclusion …
“We are seeing a much more complex and challenging environment emerging within group food and beverage,” says Teneo President Mike Schugt. “These changes will demand a creative, flexible response to guest demands, including an emphasis on flavor, health, and strict attention to sustainable farming & livestock practices, and dietary needs.” While Mr. Schugt sees luxury and independent properties in the vanguard of this movement, he has no doubt that the entire industry will eventually step up to meet these new challenges. “This is an innovative, creative industry,” Mike Schugt affirms. “We listen to our customers, ask questions, learn, and then lead the way.”