Hotels tickle guests' taste buds
Although rising costs may be curbing the opening of restaurants at luxury hotels in Asia, the region offers a broader range of dining options than the global average.
When the three-hotel Galaxy Macau opens this month, it will not only boast some 2,200 rooms and the expected swimming pools, spas and casinos, but also some 50 restaurants.
Food styles will range from high-end Italian to Spaghetti House, and include most of the mainland's regional cuisines.
While 50 food and beverage outlets is exceptional, even for an integrated resort, it is by no means uncommon for hotels and resorts in Asia to offer a wide range of dining and bar options.
According to Gillian Murphy, senior vice-president for non-gaming operations, Galaxy Macau prioritises its food offerings because Asian travellers place a great deal of emphasis on food when deciding where to vacation.
'Food brings friends and families together. This is true all over the world, but nowhere more so than in Asia. When you consider that more than 97 per cent of the 25 million visitors to Macau last year were from Asia, it makes a great deal of sense.'
She says Galaxy Macau intends to become a leading resort destination for international and Asian cuisines.
'I believe this trend goes back many years when there were very few standalone restaurants outside hotels, and the hotels were able to bring in chefs and ingredients from overseas,' says Giovanni Angelini, vice-chairman of Bangkok-headquartered Dusit International. Angelini was formerly a senior executive at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which named a signature Italian restaurant after him.
His 50-year doorman-to-boardroom career has taken him to Europe, North America and Asia, and he believes that in the past hotel restaurants in Asia were able to provide higher-quality cuisine than outside eateries.
Angelini, who once encountered a Taipei hotel with 40 outlets, says that in many cases owners believe that having a high number of outlets gives properties increased status and prestige. 'Hotels have traditionally enjoyed the perception of serving high-quality food in a safe and reliable setting.
'It was also seen as prestigious when guests entertained, from a personal and professional perspective,' says Shane Giles, director of food and beverage performance for Asia and Australasia at InterContinental Hotels Group.
The group operates 133 luxury hotels across three brands in the Asia-Pacific region and has another 107 in the development stage.
Owners are bowing to new economic realities. Giles says the new norm is to have three restaurants for a 5-star hotel with 250-400 rooms. Such a property might have had five or six restaurants in the past.
'The trend is changing, mostly driven by the cost of land and construction costs.
'There is a shift towards designing more efficient and cost-effective hotels in most Asian centres, which is resulting in fewer outlets,' Giles says.
InterContinental has four properties in the region, with an above-average number of outlets.
The 12-outlet ANA InterContinental Tokyo has seven restaurants, four bars and lounges, and one delicatessen.