When looking to update its beverage menu to maximize revenue, the 17-location Loews Hotels looked to offer guests a more local feel while keeping true to the spirit of the chain.
The first enhancement was made through Loews’ new poolside menus. These banana leaf-themed menus are completely customizable by all individual locations. Properties were allowed to create custom titles, descriptions and pricing for each food and beverage item, keeping with Loews’ “uniquely local” brand standard. Serving a dual purpose, the menus double as palm fronds that the guest can use to fan themselves like royalty.
Next up were new cocktail menus, which also keep with the local feel of the chain. Each location was tasked with creating a cocktail that reflected its locale. “We wanted to incorporate some of the new trends in mixology,” says Ellen Burke Van Slyke, corporate creative director of food and beverage at Loews Hotels. “With a focus on balance in a cocktail and balance in a cocktail program, we wanted to offer cocktails that fell into basic categories of savory, classic, organic, modern and retro.” The result is the new Signature Cocktail menu, which is the same at all locations and features 17 drinks—one that represents each Loews location.
“The cocktails are huge—creating lots of buzz in our bars, with conversation ranging from discussion on the actual drinks to the ingredients and to the location of all our properties,” says Slyke, who worked with the beverage experts at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions to ensure the program represented the latest cocktail trends.
As expected, each location’s signature drinks are the biggest sellers there. Popular drinks across the chain are The Castaway, made with Appleton Estate V/X Rum, orange curaçao, Monin Almond, lime juice and topped with Myers’s Dark Rum. La Mystique, made with Stoli Bakberi Vodka, Cointreau Orange Liqueur and a dash of blue curaçao; and The Lavender Drop, made with Cîroc Vodka with muddled lavender and lemon juice. They range in price from $12 to $21 depending on the drink and location.
The menu is featured at every table throughout the lobby lounges at each property. “We also added eye-catching garnish trees that sit on every bar to entice our guests to try one of our signature cocktails,” notes Shaun Hauver, the hotel’s Miami-based managing director.
In order to implement the new menus, Loews corporate education and development department created a six-day training and tasting program for all beverage servers and bartenders at all Loews Hotels. “The program started with a formal 20-minute introduction to our Signature Cocktail menu with tasting for the next six days to thoroughly familiarize and energize our team,” says Hauver. “Attendance at Loews corporate training programs is more than 95 percent.”
The new menu is clearly a hit, with bartenders and servers reporting great feedback on the cocktails and the garnish trees. “We have also seen our highest guest satisfaction this year,” explains Hauver. “Every month, our guests have rated our overall customer satisfaction higher than last year.” The local flair appears to be paying off.
Loews’ locations features beer stalwarts Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Corona, Heineken, Sam Adams, Newcastle and Stella Artois in their lounges and banquets. Each location is given authority on whether to serve these on tap or by the bottle, and prices range from $5 to $7 each. “We encourage local microbrews be served on draft as well,” she explains. The chain also features a core group of 16 wines that are served in banquets in the wine-by-the-glass program, priced from $7 to $20 each. These wines are also offered in at least one outlet in each property.