As vice president of food and beverage for InterContinental Hotels Group's Americas region, Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray oversees about 126 hotels, including Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inns, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts. Born in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, Etcheberrigaray, 53, came to the United States as an exchange student. Now with 24 years at InterContinental, based in Atlanta, he talked with Nation's Restaurant News from New York City, where he’s working on a hotel opening at Times Square, about the current state of travel and what he sees as the next big food and beverage trends.
Business is picking up. We’re seeing a rebirth of movement. I think people are traveling more. We’re seeing more meetings.
Who’s traveling more?
Here in N.Y. everyone. [Elsewhere] we see a lot of staycations. A lot of people are driving and staying in hotels. I think it’s a mix. Monday through Friday it’s more business. Training is coming back indicating future business.
What are the most important food and beverage trends these days?
In general, number one, people want value for their money. People are not drinking up. Instead of buying the $80 bottle of wine, they are buying the $40 bottle and instead of having one premium cocktail they will have two [regular] cocktails.
People want to eat more fun foods — appetizers, small plates and sharing plates. We see a big development with sharing all across the nation.
A lot more healthy — what does that translate to? Grilled, tandoori. I think there is a big movement with spices and bold flavors.
What’s going to be next in hotel restaurants and bars?
Ahhh, the magic ball. I think we’re going to have more local and more craft. We are a beer country in the U.S. and craft beers are growing. Because chauvinistically, people want to eat locally.
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