Best Chain Drinks Program
What makes a winning drinks program? How about a fun, market-tailored poolside promotion available from Memorial Day to Labor Day that keeps guests cool. Omni Hotels & Resorts’ “Art of Water” features regionally inspired cocktails, bottled water with a cause and sweet frozen treats.
“We’ve teamed up with great talent to offer our guests the ultimate summer pool experience,” says David Morgan, vice president of food and beverage for the Irving, TX-based hotel chain, which operates 50 properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “By elevating the quintessential summer ingredients—cocktails, ice cream and water—we are able to ensure our guests genuinely enjoy their time by the pool.”
Kim Haasarud of beverage consultancy Liquid Architecture developed five local-inspired libations for each of four regions—Northeast, Southeast, Texas and West Coast—often using indigenous (as well as locally popular) ingredients. The Chipotle Margarita on the Texas menu blends Sauza Tequila with fresh lime and a chipotle pepper sour, while the Southeast menu’s Peach Pick mixes Belvedere Lemon Tea vodka, Hennessy Cognac, peach liqueur, lemon, and tea.
The Elderflower Champagne Collins available in the Northeast uses Stoli vodka, Thatcher’s Organic Elderflower Liqueur, lemon and sparkling wine, while the West Coast’s Blood Orange Collins has Stoli vodka, Solerno blood orange liqueur, lemon and cranberry juice.
The drinks are designed to be batched, with the liquor and mixers added at the end, to allow for busy times. This also makes it easier for substitute bartenders to step in. Detailed recipes and instructions for all cocktails are readily available behind the bars.
SANGRIAS AND SKINNY DRINKS
The Art of Water’s selection of sangrias has been most popular in all markets, according to Morgan. The Watermelon Lime Sangria on the Texas menu mixes Little Black Dress moscato, watermelon liqueur, lime and watermelon balls, and The Deep End Sangria available in the Northeast, is made with Little Black Dress moscato, blueberry purée and fresh orange juice. Omni sold more than 1,500 sangrias during the first month of the promotion.
The hotel also offers at least one low-calorie cocktail option in each market to appeal to health-conscious guests. The Tangerine and Mint Tequila Spritzer, for instance, is made with Sauza tequila, lime, agave and a mandarin and tangerine purée, topped with club soda. Wine and beer are also available poolside; hotels can add locally produced beers and wine to their menus.
To keep pool guests hydrated, Omni offers Keeper Springs bottled water. (The chain has donated about $5,000 last summer to Waterkeeper Alliance, a global environmental movement focusing on water issues.) Poolside guests could also beat the heat with all-natural, handmade ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus.
Art of Water was rolled out through a variety of public relations and marketing efforts, including launch parties at all participating hotels, a poolside party at the Omni Royal Orleans during the Tales of the Cocktail show, and posting cocktail recipes on the “Culinary Stirrings” section of Omnihotels.com. In all, the program received more than 32 million media impressions.
Omni’s sales of specialty drinks have increased 25% since the promotion began. By offering unique drinks with a story and a local focus, presenting them in an artistic, appealing manner, and tying in beverage efforts with a worthwhile global initiative, Morgan believes “Art of Water” quenched Omni guests’ thirsts, and made their time by the pool memorable.
OMNI HOTELS & RESORTS
Based: Irving, TX
Number of Units: 50