April 13, 2023
Hilton yesterday announced its partnership with award-winning beverage authority Paul McGee. With more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, McGee, who is credited with opening some of the country’s most highly acclaimed bars, will work alongside Hilton’s global food & beverage team to develop an original, all day tropical cocktail experience at Papaya Club, the vibrant waterside escape at Conrad Orlando. The latest addition of the award-winning Conrad Hotels & Resorts portfolio is opening in late 2023.
“At Hilton, we strive to partner with industry leaders who are equally determined in their passion to create exceptional food and beverage experiences,” said Adam Crocini, senior vice president and global head of Food & Beverage Brands at Hilton. “Paul’s expertise in crafting immersive, beverage programs is unparalleled. We are excited for this partnership to yield an innovative cocktail destination befitting of a next generation luxury resort like Conrad Orlando.”
The Papaya Club will offer an upscale cocktail experience for hotel guests and visitors alike, according to a press release. The immersive beverage program will include bold flavors such as fresh pineapple, coconut, guava, and papaya, along with several inspired low-and no-ABV drinks, all served in custom ceramic pieces or pineapple and coconut shells.
“Previously, I’ve opened indoor bars in cold climates that transport guests to tropical destinations through island-inspired drinks. This partnership with Hilton offers the unique opportunity to enhance a guest’s experience once they’ve arrived in paradise,” said McGee. “I’m excited to provide elevated service in an enchanting, outdoor setting.”
McGee previously helmed the cocktail programs at Chicago Athletic Association’s Milk Room, Cherry Circle Room, and Game Room—bars renowned for their classic-leaning beverage lists— and was an owner at Lost Lake, one of the country’s best tropical cocktail bars. Lost Lake was recognized as the Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards and a multi James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award nominee for Outstanding Bar Program. It also earned a spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2018, as well as being named Time Out Chicago’s Bar of the Year, Chicago Magazine’s Best New Bar, one of Esquire’s Best Bars in America, and Imbibe magazine’s Cocktail Bar of the Year.
“Hilton has long been synonymous with innovation and, as with many of our food and beverage firsts across our Americas hotel portfolio, we are delighted for Conrad Orlando to be the destination for Paul McGee’s first hotel project,” said Tom Walters, senior vice president, food & beverage for Americas at Hilton. “Once open, Papaya Club will complement the luxury resort’s four other thoughtfully curated dining outlets providing an elevated, storied and globally inspired food and beverage experience for our guests delivered by our exceptional team members.”