F&B Inspired Breakouts: How Interactive Breakouts Are Spicing Up the Meeting & Convention Experience

By Martin Pfefferkorn Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | August 05, 2012

As Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, I oversee the restaurants at the hotel as well as the weddings, social gatherings and corporate functions that take place in our 180,000 square feet of event space. I present unique menu specialties blending my own inspirations with the indigenous ingredients of the New South.

Southerners, and visitors to Atlanta, expect a certain amount of classic comfort food, however what they find in today's menu selection is not your mama's comfort food. Pimento Cheese, Biscuits and Jam, and blackberry cobblers are a few examples of comfort food selections whose recipes have been reinvented. Gone are the days of heavy "fat" laden recipes. I like to bring an explosion of flavor using the concept that "less is more" and "fresh is best." Southern sophistication has found its way into the largest and smallest kitchens. Atlanta brags more than eight contenders in the "Top Chef" popular show.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta is satisfying Meeting Planners hungry for innovative breakout ideas. The hotel offers over the largest ballroom in the state to small boardrooms for executive meetings. We embrace our Southern roots and allow experts to run the show with interactive and learning-based breakouts.

According to information provided by Elizabeth Mann, Sales Manager for an Atlanta Destination Management and Corporate Event Planning Company, Juice Studios, there is an increase in demand for meeting breaks that not only incorporate refreshments for attendees but also an interactive learning experience. She also said, planners are presenting the challenge to keep corporate groups entertained and enlightened between breaks in meetings while integrating the current and evolving food trends.

Crafty with Craft Beer

George Brown, Senior Food & Beverage Director at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, isn't the type to settle for a boring event. Based off a concept used in the hotel's Lobby bar, Twenty-Two Storys, Brown helped bring craft beer to the forefront of the interactive breakout experience.

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Architecture & Design: Expecting the Unexpected

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and the hotel industry is continually looking for new ways to differentiate its properties. In some cases, hotels themselves have become travel destinations and guests have come to expect the unexpected - to experience the touches that make the property unlike any other place in the world. To achieve this, architects and designers are adopting a variety of strategies to meet the needs of every type of guest and to provide incomparable customer experiences. One such strategy is site-integration - the effort to skillfully marry a hotel to its immediate surroundings. The goal is to honor the cultural location of the property, and to integrate that into the hotel's design - both inside and out. Constructing low-impact structures that blend in with the environment and incorporating local natural elements into the design are essential to this endeavor. Similarly, there is an ongoing effort to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces - to pull the outside in - to enable guests to connect with nature and enjoy beautiful, harmonious surroundings at all times. Another design trend is personalization - taking the opportunity to make every space within the hotel original and unique. The days of matching decor and furniture in every room are gone; instead, designers are utilizing unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles - all to create a more personalized and fresh experience for the guest. Finally, lobbies are continuing to evolve. They are being transformed from cold, impersonal, business-like spaces into warm, inviting, living room-like spaces, meant to provide comfort and to encourage social interaction. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.