Learning from abroad: The industry's observations

Clint Marsh of the Langstone Hotel thinks towel art is a concept which could please hotel guests

In the final part of our inspirational feature series hotel, restaurant and pub and bar experts share some of their observations from hospitality outside of the UK.

Hotels

"On my international travels one of the areas which has always caught my attention is 'towel art' - whereby the daily fresh towels are created into different creations on a daily basis by housekeeping staff.....from crocodiles and lions to trapeze artists and flowers. It's such a simple idea but really effective and appeals to both children and adults alike. It really gets people talking and is something which could work well in the UK markets - I've only ever seen it abroad but there's no reason why it couldn't be introduced here," Clint Marsh, general manager of The Langstone Hotel

“I like to have my shoes cleaned if I leave them outside my door. I came across this in Texas – they had a little tray built into the wall by the door and you put your shoes into it and push it back in and the guy at the other end can open it with a key. A lot of guests, particularly busy people, would want this; it’s still a luxury and there’s not enough of it going on. Leave your shoes outside the door in the UK and too many times they’re still there the next day. Do that in Hong Kong and you’ll always find a pair of polished shoes,” Michael O’Dwyer of hotel concept development consultancy HGS Partnership

“There have been some really interesting aspects of design used abroad - and whilst they may not all be able to be transplanted directly into the UK market they can certainly be used to push our boundaries and challenge the way we currently view our product. Whether that is the room features of Citizen M or the pod hotel to the living walls in some of China’s new properties. I think more questions are being asked about the design of our bedrooms now than has probably been asked since en-suite bathrooms became an expectation,” Joanne Taylor-Stagg, General Manager, Crowne Plaza London - Docklands

Restaurants

"There are some very exciting dining concepts coming from South America and more specifically restaurants that are inspired by the Peruvian cuisine. “Ceviche” is a roll out concept that is due to open in the UK and the ethos behind the cuisine - made for sharing, will lend itself perfectly to the market here," Derek Bulmer, former UK Michelin Guide editor

"Our entire culture is made up of people who have visited and then settled here. Whether that's free settlers and convicts 223 years ago, the Chinese who came for the gold rush, Vietnamese and Koreans to escape the war, or the recent influx from the middle east, we're all just making our home here. And because of this, we have one of the richest food cultures in the world, and a wealth of talented chefs, waitstaff and restaurateurs. Sure, lots of people consider waiting tables a student job, but take a look at the serious end of Sydney restaurants and you won't find a lot of chaff," Miffy Rigby, Time Out Sydney food and drink editor

"The bulk of our hospitality service personnel are regional staff coming from other South East Asian countries, but the government has started clamping down on the quota given to foreign workers coming into Singapore. We are beginning to feel the difficulty in attracting good people to do these jobs, so our manpower problems would be easily solved if the government were to open up the floodgates and let people through, but how to convince them to do that is the challenge," Ignatius Chan, chef-proprietor, Iggys, Singapore

Pubs & Bars

"We often take inspiration from retailers. There is a deli chain called Dean & Deluca in the States which presents deli and gift items in a really stylish way and I like spending time there. Just because you're a pub and restaurant, doesn't mean you have to only be that. You can sell gift items in a section of your pub and even if you only sell a handful of items a day you are giving your customers something they wouldn't normally get. Our customers like the look of it too," Taskin Muzaffer, operations manager, Drake & Morgan

"Barrel ageing drinks goes back hundreds of years and the practice has been used in countries all around the world - Spain, France, Scotland - but we've started applying the concept to cocktails. At Purl we have a collection of barrel aged cocktails. The drink changes each time which is great for repeat business. Each time the guest comes back it will taste different as the drink evolves in the cask," Tom Aske of Fluid Movement and co-owner of London bars Purl and VOC

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