Heightened health and safety measures have forced hotels to rewrite their event F&B playbook. Pamela Chow finds out how creative catering in Asia is evolving.
Despite the major blow to the hospitality and events industry due to the pandemic, hotels in Asia-Pacific have been swift on their feet to adapt.
Since as early as April, many have reopened their doors to domestic clients and intimate business gatherings – but gone are the days of catered canapes and laissez-faire networking.
Instead, with stricter hygiene protocols and social distancing measures in place, what awaits is a suite of new catering solutions. Clients no longer return to the buffet lines of old, but are instead greeted with fresh, out-of-the-box F&B experiences.
For many hospitality brands, the downtime presented an opportunity to revise their strategies and explore ways in which creative catering can thrive in a world with pandemic restrictions.
For instance, One Farrer Hotel Singapore’s Meals-on-Wheels package delivers gourmet lunches and coffee break bites to the homes of delegates attending remote events.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore has formulated hybrid catering packages that include individually-boxed meals, sustainable food packaging, and plant-based menus.
And as part of its HY-brid meeting concept, Hyatt Group also delivers its F&B offerings – such as lunch bento boxes and cocktail kits – to the homes of virtual event attendees.
At the Australasian Hotel Industry Conference & Exhibition 2020 in Hyatt Regency Sydney, individual bento boxes and afternoon tea caddies were part of the safe dining experience. Taking several steps further, Grand Hyatt Singapore brought back Le Peit Chef, an immersive dining adventure in the hotel’s mezza9 La Cave wine cellar featuring a theatrical 3D projection mapping performance. Limited to just eight people per seating, this offering has sold out bookings for every session since its launch.
Andreas Stalder, senior vice president – F&B operations and product development, Hyatt Group, said: “Creativity is key for restart and recovery efforts in our industry. We have been listening to event and meeting planners, PCOs, corporate customers and World of Hyatt members throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – and what we have learnt is that we need to reimagine the event and meeting experience with a focus on hygiene and well-being, cost-effective and seamless meeting solutions, and flexible cancellation policies.”
As a mark of assurance, all of Hyatt’s 149 hotels in Asia Pacific have a Hygiene & Wellbeing Leader to oversee the execution of the Group’s Care & Cleanliness Commitment. The properties have completed the first phase of this programme, and are currently preparing for the second phase, which is obtaining the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR Facility Accreditation before the end of 2020.
For The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, the shift towards individual food packaging has spurred conversations about sustainability as well as personalised food safety.
“I believe that with the effects of Covid-19, guests are taking a keen interest in their immunity system, which ultimately leads to a greater awareness of food functionality and food safety.
“(Additionally,) a hotel’s catering and events scene post-Covid-19 will (also) have to rethink its position on sustainability, that is, producing less waste and creating more meaningful environmental awareness,” expressed Matthias Al-Amiry, managing director of The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore and regional vice president, South-east Asia.
Taking the high line
One Farrer Hotel sees safe distancing measures as an opportunity to boost its more exclusive offerings for bigger spenders.
To cater to a growing demand for private dining rooms, particularly by its “high net worth clientele”, the hotel launched The Nest at One Farrer on level 20, Adrian Quek, director of catering & events, One Farrer Hotel, shared with TTGmice.
The Nest comprises 13 safe dining environments, which may each accommodate between four and 12 diners. Since Singapore softened its quarantine restrictions earlier in the year, the facility has hosted several small-scale meetings and classes, serving as breakout rooms with in-room smart TVs enabling live streaming from the main event hall. After the conferences, keynote speakers and VIPs dined at The Nest with five diners per room.
Quek noted: “There is most certainly room for creativity. We aim to provide that ‘wow’ factor to participants with plated lunch and coffee break menus that are tailored to the needs and themes of our clients’ events. These little touches go a long way in providing value for our clients.”