The demand for craft beer shows no sign of stopping, and hoteliers have found different approaches to keeping their thirsty guests happy.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hoteliers are taking advantage of the ongoing popularity of craft beer by finding ways to tie their properties into the local scenes.
Some hotels offer samples of the local brews to guests as they check in; others take it a step further by forging partnerships with local breweries.
Highlighting the locals
The local beer scene has been part of the Ale House Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, since it opened in 2008, said assistant GM Craig Gay. Many of the hotel’s guests, he said, specifically are seeking out the craft beer experience there. In fact, this past summer, staff at the hotel learned that the hotel was a stop on a larger “beercation” for many guests, he said.
“With breweries and fine establishments in which to imbibe continuing to open in Portsmouth, we see nothing but increased attention for our amazing local scene, and that does indeed translate to more demand for reservations,” he said.
Staff members offer their insights into the local craft beer scene to help guests discover local breweries, tap houses and restaurants in the area, he said. The hotel also carries a map of downtown Portsmouth that features staff favorites.
Guests staying at the hotel also receive a complimentary craft beer from one of the local breweries when they arrive, Gay said.
Six years ago, the staff of the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon, conducted a study and learned guests were interested in beers and distilleries, GM Al Munguia said.
“We reached out to a couple of the breweries and distilleries around us and said, ‘This is what our consumers are saying. How do we come together as a group to satisfy this itch?’”
The hotel’s marketing director took the lead on this project and established relationships with the breweries and distilleries, learning they were just as interested in sharing their products with the world, Munguia said. One of the distillers stepped up and created a passport booklet that describes where guests can get free tastings and discounts on purchases, he said.
As a result, the PDX Brews and Booze Experience was created. The perks of that package include a special 32-ounce growler with a certificate for a free fill-up at a local brewery, a Distillery Row passport and a collector’s keychain bottle opener. Guests who don’t purchase the package can buy the growler and passports separately to craft their own experience, Munguia said.
“Brews and Booze is the most successful package we’ve ever done,” he said. “It really reinforces to our consumer we are all about the community—not the destination—Portland is. It was about, how do we become the catalyst for them to experience whatever it is they’re looking for in the city?”
Working with the breweries and the distilleries has been a great experience, Munguia said.
“It’s incredible what you can do as a group and how eager people around the hotel and other businesses are to do the same thing we’re doing—provide guests with a great Portland experience, tap into the neighborhood energy and grow it from there,” he said.
The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection in Denver, added beehives to its rooftop about eight years ago as part of a green initiative, said Mark Shine, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. The property used honey from the hives in its six food-and-beverage outlets, he said.
“I’m a big craft beer fan,” he said. “You can’t not be in Colorado. I thought it would be cool to do a beer (with the honey).”
The hotel reached out to the oldest brewery in Denver, and together they created a new honey saison using 150 pounds of honey from the hives.
“We couldn’t keep it in stock,” Shine said about its popularity.
The partnership with the brewery continued with new lines, including cask beers, he said.
Since then, Shine reached out to another brewery to use water from the artisanal well located on the hotel property to create The Palace Pale Ale.
“The guests really enjoy it,” he said. “We actually have a pale ale package we offer. It’s one of our top-selling packages.”
For its 125th anniversary, the Brown Palace has partnered with a whiskey distillery to use the its well water to cut a new line of whiskey, Shine said.
“It’s really kind of going back to the experiences,” he said. “It’s really a unique experience. Whether you’re talking beer or whiskey, people are into that.”