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Private Property

Special Exclusive Dining Rooms Can Help Hotels Generate Additional Revenu

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Steve Pike
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For many hotel and resort guests, one of the highlights of a trip is eating in a property’s signature restaurant. It’s generally perceived as the best dining experience that a hotel or resort has to offer.

But there are those who, for a myriad of reasons, prefer a more intimate dining experience. That’s where a private dining room can be a big attraction for hotels and resorts that have such accommodations.

A private dining room can be a great gathering place for weddings, large family dinners and business dinners. But regardless of the event, a private room (or rooms) can be a great source of revenue because it’s guaranteed sales versus a la’ carte sales.

“With a well-trained staff and seamless kitchen execution, your guests are instantly ‘wowed’ as it provides an elevated dining experience compared to the traditional dining room,’’ said Christina Migliorelli, sales and event planner at the famed Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House New York.

While Del Frisco’s isn’t affiliated with a specific hotel, it’s a good model for hotel private dining rooms because it is one of the more popular destinations for private dining rooms (five in total) in New York City.

“The guests (in the private rooms) attending become instant fans, especially those that may be new to the restaurant. It's all about cultivating a larger following,’’ Migliorelli said.

That’s true whether it’s a stand-alone restaurant or a hotel restaurant.

“A restaurant’s private dining rooms are very important part of our overall restaurant revenue,’’ said Michael Blake, assistant director of food and beverage at The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Golf Resort.

The Ocean Room restaurant at the Sanctuary has the Wine Room that is used for functions as wine dinners, which is fitting because it’s surrounded by a cherrywood wine cellar.

The Jasmine Porch is the Sanctuary’s casual restaurant with a private dining room sits adjacent to a butterfly garden.

“Each room exemplifies the dining room’s mystique and charm,’’ Blake said. “Depending on the time of the year, the rooms are offered at a $500 room rental or a $2,000 food and beverage minimum. Most parties will exceed the minimum, thus resulting in the fee being waived.’’

The key to all private dining rooms, of course, is in its title. They are private

“Many guests that are celebrating weddings will like to have these rooms to give speeches and toasts,’’ Blake said. “Private dining rooms can also benefit large groups. Although we may not be able to fit a large group in a private dining room, having the private rooms will allow the main dining rooms to be sold privately while we place the smaller group in a private dining room. This way we can keep both groups separated if needed. ‘’

There is a word for that situation. It’s called “flexibility.’’

“Being flexible is very important,’’ Blake said. “All of our rooms will fit parties of 16 or less. Anything larger we feel will take away the intimacy of the room. Anything smaller than eight people will also feel uncomfortable. ‘’

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples has private dining options in three of its restaurants: The Grill, which can accommodate up to 24 guests with seafood and steak selections; Dusk, a semi-private space for up to 50 guests; and Lemonía, which has three private dining rooms, including one that overlooks the Tiburón golf course.

The private dining rooms at The Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World, has private dining rooms that seat from eight to 36 guests.

“Private dining rooms are an integral part of a catering team's success,’’ said Laure Hitzig Clavette, director of catering at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. “In fact, we have a position on the catering team solely dedicated to the sales of private dining rooms.’’

Private dining rooms. “are absolutely a key selling point for groups and weddings,’’ Clavette said. “We have many spin-off events for groups, and often wedding weekends involve a rehearsal dinner and/or a brunch, and guests are always looking to have a variety of experiences within the same location.’’

What are some keys to creating a good private dining room experience?

“First and foremost, the room has to be comfortable,’’ Blake said. “Lighting, music and temperature have to be perfect. Service is very important. Usually we have two servers per private room. This will allow one server to remain in the room at all times just in case a guest needs anything.’’

A server, Blake said, has to “command’’ the room and at the same time be unobtrusive.

“Usually guests that are dining privately are heavily engaged in conversation. Getting and keeping their attention when necessary is vital,’’ Blake said.

Often, people want the “same vibe’’ as in the main restaurant, according to Clavette said.

“However, they want it in a private setting,’’ she said. “The private dining space has to have a synergy with the main dining room, with the added benefit of flexible seating options based on the number of guests.

“For our Ravello restaurant, we have an open demonstration kitchen room that matches the feel of the restaurant. For Capa, one of our dining rooms is semi-private, offering the best of both worlds-- in the main restaurant, but not too private, so there is a great energy and feel to the room. ‘’
Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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