I love finding out what’s new and up-and-coming in the travel world, and I was super intrigued to check out some of the top trends and predictions in hotels, spas, and restaurants for the coming year, according to Andrew Freeman & Co., a hospitality agency with a unique blend of expertise in marketing, publicity, and creative services. From new ice cream flavours to technological advancements, here’s what to look forward to in travel for 2012.
This spuds for you! This year will be the year of the potato, so watch for French fry menus that let guests choose the cut, crispness, and sauce; make-your-own mashers with mix-ins; or custom-cut chips with dusts and dips to order.
Example: French Fry Menu at Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)
We all scream for new flavours. Creative chefs are taking advantage of ice cream’s blank canvas to entice people to try unfamiliar flavours of all sorts and styles.
Examples: "Autumn Pear" with Licorice Sabayon, Confit of Bartlett Pear, Candied Beet, and Sourdough Ice Cream at Murray Circle (Sausalito, CA); Grass and Horseradish Ice Cream at Max and Mina’s (Queens, NY)
Back to basics. Grilled cheese is becoming the new hamburger, and restaurants are devoting special evenings or entire menus to this childhood favourite, from fast-casual to high-end.
Examples: Ham and Cheese Grilled Sandwich at Melt (San Francisco, CA); Not Your Mother’s Grilled Cheese Night at Brick & Bottle (Corte Madera, CA)
Breakfast all day long. Breakfast is the new dinner, and restaurants are re-interpreting this morning meal for lunch, dinner and late-night menus. Waffle sandwiches, savoury turnovers, eggs in any manner of ways, pigs in a blanket, hollandaise-topped sandwiches, and French toast or bread pudding are all up for the taking.
Example: Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches (Orange, CA)
Mixed drinks on tap. First it was cask-aged cocktails, and pre-measured mixed drinks were barrel-aged for added nuance. Now mixed drinks are available on tap – barrel or not. It’s the new Manhattan project, and it’s quick and convenient.
Example: Cask Aged Negronis at Clyde Common (Portland, OR)
Antiqued brews. Vintage beers are coming of age, offering intrigue and a taste of the past with higher alcohol beers meant to age.
Example: 1999 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale at The Modern (New York, NY)
Fruity additions. Breweries are adding fruit to beers of all types, and this new fruit juice adds a little hop to your step.
Examples: Apricot Saison au Poivre by Nebraska Brewing Co. (nationwide); Fruit Beer Festival (Portland, OR)
No more check-in (sort of). Hotels are warming up by eliminating the formal front desk – instead enjoy a personal greeting at the door from a Welcome Ambassador and special gifts or treats in reward for repeat business.
Example: No front desk at Hotel Cipriani (Beverly Hills, CA)
Smartphone technology in-room. You’ll get the comforts of home as more hotels provide downloadable custom apps to order room service, drinks, movies, or even a local map.
Example: Smartphone app to order room service at SLS Hotel (Los Angeles, CA)
For your sweet tooth. Encourage sweet dreams with customized turndown sweets recreating childhood favourites like hot chocolate, rice crispy treats, Cracker Jacks, or cookies (and a glass of milk of course).
Example: During the holiday season at The Stanford Court, guests receive an "Elf Tuck in," a personalized family stocking filled with treats and other fun add-ins (San Francisco, CA)