Partnerships with leading chefs and dining concepts are driving a transformation in the standard of food at hotels in the UK and internationally, argues Colliers’ head of UK Leisure Agency Ross Kirton.

Good hoteliers don’t necessarily make good restaurateurs and many are now looking for partners to provide offers that both attract guests and generate a new income stream.

Our fascination with hotel F&B has been gaining momentum for years. Ian Schrager made the hotel bar cool when he developed The Sanderson and its iconic Long Bar in the late 1990s. His Edition Hotels provide offers tailored to each location. The London Edition, for example, boasts Jason Atherton’s highly rated Berners Tavern as part of its offer.

For restaurateurs, opening in a hotel reduces the capital expenditure of establishing a new outlet and brings a ready stream of diners.

At the top end of the market, there are a growing number of leading chefs using hotels as a platform: Marcus by Marcus Wareing at London’s The Berkeley in Knightsbridge is an example, while Indigo Hotels have a UK joint venture with Marco Pierre White.

These partnerships can be of great benefit to both sides with each brand enhancing the other. In Marlow, Bucks, we let the restaurant at the Macdonalds Hotels’ Compleat Angler to Atul Kochhar for his Sindhu concept and it has proved to be a great success, complementing the existing hotel F&B offer.

Some hotel chains are securing partners to roll out offers in multiple locations. In April, Carluccio’s announced its first opening in a Marriott Hotel and more are set to follow. The 200-cover restaurant and food shop at the London Marriott Regent’s Park hotel will be leased and managed by Carluccio’s, and have its own separate entrance. Neil Wickers, chief executive at Carluccio’s, says: “Our all-day trading format is particularly suited to a hotel operation where breakfast and impromptu dining are an integral part of the offer.

As these partnerships flourish, new providers are emerging. The ONE Group is a specialist in the hospitality industry and the creator of the international restaurant brand STK. In addition to developing and operating restaurants and lounges, it also provides a turn-key food & beverage service for hotels. It is the F&B operator at the ME hotel on London’s Strand.

However, while some hotels are not suitable for incorporating a partner or lessee, the growing attractiveness of the model is leading many to modify the designs of their branded concepts to create future flexibility.

Marc Finney, Colliers’ Head of Hotels & Resorts Consulting, comments: “For third-party operators, hotels offer great opportunity. Hotel guests have a significant awareness of new cuisines and styles of cooking and themes that inherently could add value to their stay and are looking for something special.

“For hoteliers, the key is to ensure that whatever route is taken, the total guest experience of the hotel and its facilities is integrated and benefits all parties.”

Opening in a hotel also provides a restaurant concept with the opportunity to debut in new territory. Red Rooster – the American dining concept from celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson – is opening its first UK restaurant at the Gansevoort Group’s The Curtain Hotel in East London later this year.

These are partnerships where there has to be alignment of brands and a structure that delivers the desired outputs for both partners. This means that all the factors involved have to be taken into account the lease structure, the service level agreements and the relationship between the hotel and the operator.

It is a multi-faceted process but an increasing number of these partnerships are delivering a renaissance in hotel food across the UK.