Activating Hotel Lobby Food and Beverage, and More
Q&A With Andrew Simmons of Nadel Architects
Andrew Simmons oversees Nadel Architects' hospitality studio and has been working on a variety of key developments, including most recently the Hyatt hotel in San Leandro, part of the San Francisco metro area.
The development, slated to open by summer 2021, is designed to accommodate a projected sea rise based on global warming reports and utilizes the waterfront-oriented development to provide a resort-like atmosphere, with 200 rooms featuring a private ocean view, exterior balconies, and a full range of amenities such as a fitness club/ spa, business center, lobby, café, and buffet-style restaurant. The project is part of Phase 1 of a much larger development which includes a 285-unit apartment building, which will feature restaurants, retail and event spaces, and single-family homes.
We chatted with Simmons about the project and trends in lodging food and beverage.
Hotel F&B: Tell us about your background working with Hyatt and now the San Leandro project.
Simmons: Historically, I’ve done a lot of work with Hyatt, from previous firms, and continued to work with them in Chicago. I have a strong relationship with Hyatt, and, in my opinion, they’re one of the stronger brands in the market. They’ve adapted well to some of the changes from select service market share to the luxury side. Food and beverage is integral to that.
The new trend of having the dual-branded hotels—this one is a Hyatt House and Hyatt Place—it creates a new synergy of the space with different options for different guests. On the branded side, some operators have pancakes and waffles, and that’s great, and a lot of people make their decisions to stay based on that. But it’s also nice to have a true food and beverage offering, where you have a defined breakfast and all-day dining. And I hate to use the term “grab-and-go,” but it’s good to have a market with quick-serve variety, smaller meals. We’re also seeing at Hyatt and some other brands, the bar serving a tapas-type menu as well. They’re integrating and activating the public space with a variety of food and beverage for those different select-service guests of Hyatt House and Hyatt Place—and bringing people in from the outside for a defined restaurant.
What’s unique in San Leandro is, as a mixed-use project with multi-family use as well as the hotel, with an adjacent existing restaurant, you have a fine-dining restaurant already established, which helps.
Hotel F&B: What lessons have you learned from previous hotel projects regarding aspects of certain F&B spaces that work and do not work?
Simmons: Again, not trying to have a bias, but some of them are quite defined. Getting back to the pancake-and-waffle concept. That’s a pretty defined concept that will be there forever. What we’ve seen in other projects is the progression of lobby spaces and public interaction. I hate to use the word “millennials,” but they are looking for that experiential integration of a local setting. Whether that’s bringing outside people to the hotel and restaurant or bringing hotel occupants into that location, lobbies are transitioning into smaller meals and a different variety of places to activate the space—as a centrifuge for different people to mix.
The guest has become a lot more sophisticated to select hotels through apps, and their real goal is to select a location based on an attribute rather than a price point or brand. Having the food and beverage exposed up front rather than hidden in the back or the corners, you’re activating the lobby space. It’s scalable on the brands. Select-service is probably doing a better job or at least embraced it earlier, bringing in local people and even food trucks, integrating with the city. On the higher end, you’re seeing high-end, defined destination outlets in the hotel. By scale, brand, and luxury level, it changes, but the goal is still the same.
Hotel F&B: What’s top-of-mind for you at the moment in F&B projects?
Simmons: We’re doing a cool project in Long Beach, renovating the Breakers hotel, an historic hotel that Conrad Hilton built in the 1920s. They’re bringing it back as a resort boutique hotel. It has a defined restaurant at the top, the Sky Room, which is a way-old city destination for special meals. We’re looking to expand on that iconic rooftop restaurant and supplement it with lounges and an outside terrace, to address the newer generation of people—to make it a social destination, not just for a birthday or anniversary meal.