Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. McKeown

Thomas McKeown

Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Armed with a wealth of international culinary experience, Chef Thomas McKeown joined Hyatt Regency Atlanta as Executive Chef. Before his current role overseeing the property's dining experiences, Polaris, Sway, Twenty-Two Storys and Market, as well as its in-room dining, special events and banquet operations, Chef McKeown served as Executive Chef at Grand Hyatt Atlanta for five years.

Born and trained in Europe, Chef McKeown began his culinary career at the prominent Limerick Golf Club in Ireland. He completed his culinary training on both sides of the Atlantic at the Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland and Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where he earned a Master's degree in Food Service Education. Following his studies, Chef McKeown refined his knowledge of contemporary American cuisine as Sous Chef at the exclusive Somerset Club in Boston and moved on to become Executive Chef at the Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta, where he concentrated on local sustainable cuisine.

Chef McKeown is a member of Hyatt's Sustainable and Responsible Eating Team, a Corp. initiative which promotes serving local, healthy and responsibly raised ingredients in all Hyatt dining experiences. In 2013, Chef McKeown was awarded "Executive Chef of the Year" by Hyatt Hotels. Passionate about food and an advocate of local and sustainable sourcing, Chef McKeown is also involved with the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia. When he's not in the kitchen, he can be found at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market or at local farms alongside his wife Lacy and two children, Aiden and Conner, where he has started Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

Please visit http://www.hyatt.com for more information.

Mr. McKeown can be contacted at +1 404-577-1234 or thomas.mckeown@hyatt.com

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.