A Keane eye on business

Why is hotel poolside dining so poor?, asks F&B designer Aidan Keane
Every poolside should have a BBQ to entice guests, says Keane
Every poolside should have a BBQ to entice guests, says Keane

Like many of you, I’ve just come off my hols; relaxed, tight skinned and ready for autumn and the run up to Christmas. But before I pack away my Speedos and sun-block I have a big question to ask…Why is poolside dining in every hotel so utterly rubbish?
Year after year it’s the same old story: hotel pool dining is at best dumbed-down and at worst, forgotten. I have stayed with all the big names, allover the world, Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental, Jumeirah, One&Only etc. All of them outstanding operators who are passionate about their operations and reputations, but all of whom seem to have this blind spot around the pool.
Inside their hotels, the restaurants are forever lifting the bar and pushing boundaries. However, take your clothes off, sit by the pool and ask for the lunch menu and it all falls apart. No more lobster or delicate picante sauces. No more fine seafood salad with
divine little details to tell your friends about. No, around the pool you’ve got to not only remove your trousers but your food aspirations too.
When I’m spending more than $500 a night I don’t want to be fobbed off with burgers and BLTs, I just want good, simple, colourful food — with no chips!
I say firstly, make it compulsory for every pool to have a barbecue and at least half the menu made up of locally caught fish (if by the sea) or meat from local farmers. This would create demand, signal the kitchen is open and entice people over to eat from all around.
Secondly, I’d like to ban fries completely, remove them from the menus and force chefs to think wider and further.
Most sensible parents spend hours brainwashing their children about eating a well and varied diet, one that doesn’t involve burgers, fries and shakes. We then take them on holiday and spend every single lunch hour explaining why the silly chef has cooked nothing but.
All that time, spending thousands aligning their bigname hotel brands with their consumers’ aspirations and here’s one issue that never seems to get solved. Incredible.
See you by the pool next year for a burger and fries.

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