The hotel kitchen is gaining momentum. The fact that renowned international hotel groups, such as Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood, Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency or Marriott, have decided to bet on renowned chefs for their new openings in Spain is in line with wanting, on the one hand, gain notoriety in terms of media coverage, while offering a cuisine according to the demand of new luxury tourists. Those who plan trips and visit cities based on the hotel brands they have, and the Michelin stars they host.
“The luxury sector, in which these types of hotels are included, already base their offer on the concept of experience, on covering the greatest number of services to satisfy an increasingly demanding client”, explains Jesús Charlán, professor and director of the course specialized in product manager from the ESIC business school. In this sense, he adds that “hotels have realized that the perfect pairing with a high level stay is to include a gastronomic claim ”. And nothing better for this than to sign Michelin star chefs, capable of obtaining the same recognition in new openings as the aforementioned French tire guide. “This type of chef is a guarantee brand and is a good positioning for the hotel”, says the teacher.
In the latest edition of the 2022 Guide for Spain, Portugal and Andorra, three of the four new two stars stay in luxury hotels: Amelia by Paulo Airaudo, at the Hotel Villa Favorita in San Sebastián, Smoked Room, at the Hyatt hotel Regency Hesperia Madrid, and Voro, at Cap Vermell Grand Hotel in Canyamel (Mallorca).
Also seven of the 27 that have achieved their first star in Spain are under the cloak of a hotel: Ayalga, at the Villa Rosario hotel, in Ribadesella (Asturias), Deessa, the restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz hotel, in Madrid, Zaranda , at the Es Princep hotel, in Palma (Mallorca), La Gaia by Óscar Molina, at Ibiza Gran Hotel, Ment by Óscar Calleja, at Grand Hotel Don Gregorio, in Salamanca, and Poemas de Hermanos Padrón, at Hotel Santa Catalina, at The Gran Canarian palms.
The same occurs with three of the five new Portuguese stars –Vila Foz, at the hotel and spa of the same name, in Porto, Cura, at the Ritz hotel in Lisbon, and Al Sud, at Palmares Ocean Living & Golf, in Lagos– and the only incorporation in Andorra –Ibaya, in Sport Hotel Hermitage & Spa, in Soldeu–.
To all these are added names such as Carme Ruscalleda, with two stars in the Moments restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Barcelona, the three of Jordi Cruz in the ABaC hotel in the same city, where Martín Berasategui is also with three macarons at the Monument hotel, and Paco Pérez, who has two at the Arts hotel. In Sardón de Duero (Valladolid) it has the Refectory star, in Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, and in Sigüenza (Guadalajara), the Molino de Alcuneza.
In Madrid, there are three DiverXOs at the NH Collection Eurobuilding hotel, two, Ramón Freixa at the Único hotel in Madrid, and one, Cebo at the Urban hotel. To this group of stars are added in this edition the two achieved in a single blow by Dani García, in Smoked Room (Hyatt Hesperia), and that of Quique Dacosta, in Deesa (Mandarin Oriental Ritz).
“Hotels have realized that they will die if they don’t invest in cooking. And now it is given the importance it once again was, because in all the hotels they cooked, but over time he lost interest, and now he returns. A restaurant is an important component for any hotel ”, explains Dani García, proud to return through the front door to the Michelin universe, after in 2018 he gave up having a restaurant with stars, 22 days after having achieved the third for the restaurant that it bore his name in Marbella.
“I didn’t expect it because the restaurant has a short life, we opened it in June. It was a historical surprise, we had it planned for next year, but for me this is not new “, says the chef, who perhaps because he knows what it is to have this type of recognition has not surprised him that as soon as he opened the Reservations on the 15th of this month, the day after the presentation of the guide, the 14 places it has for the month of January will be sold out, despite the fact that the price of the menu has gone from 135 euros to 180 euros. “We have the cheapest haute cuisine in the world,” adds García.
Quique Dacosta’s forecast of getting the first star in the first year of Deesa’s opening – it opened in April – has been fulfilled. And he explains that his relationship with Mandarin Oriental Ritz goes beyond having a fine dining restaurant. “I am a creator of gastronomic concepts, I have developed 11 in total, I have six restaurants in total, and when you join your brand to that of a hotel, what you want is to represent you, in the same way that you wear clothes that represent you. I always like to work from an emotional perspective ”, explains Dacosta, satisfied to be part of a hotel that is an“ icon of the city, a space that is part of the feelings of the people of Madrid ”.
Regarding the signing of renowned chefs, he assures that the most important thing, above all, there is the customer eating well. “If Saddle were, for example, in a hotel we would go to the hotel. We are getting used to going to hotels to eat well, as is the case in the Anglo-Saxon world. In Only You hotels it seems that you do not enter a hotel, so that someone’s privacy is invaded, all this is being solved in a creative way “, says Dacosta, who has three stars in the restaurant he has in Denia, and two in El Poblet.
His chef at Deesa is Ricard Tobella, who says that in just 48 hours, just after hearing the Michelin verdict, reservations at the hotel were encouraged. “We have increased it by 40%, the telephone rings a lot, and we have had to reinforce the part of the reserves,” says this cook, who has worked with Dacosta for 15 years.
“For us it has been an important leap, also for the hotel, because it validates the work we were doing. Now we go for the second star. This has given us wings, and it is not the same to have the star as not to have it ”, says Tobella, who reveals that the working method in the hotel and the level of demand is the same as in the mother house. “Because customers seek excellence and you have to give it to them.”
Jesús Sánchez arrives at the Rosewood Villa Magna hotel in Madrid from Cantabria, with three stars in Cenador de Amós, but warns that his concept has not been to replicate or achieve the same achievements as in the Villaverde de Pontones restaurant. Quite the opposite. “The concept that I have developed is that of a traditional cuisine that looks to the Cantabrian Sea, but interpreted by a chef who runs a restaurant with three Michelin stars”, Sánchez explains, aware that all the recognitions give visibility.
His history with the Villa Magna hotel was a love affair, which began two years ago when the representative of the hotel’s property, Borja Escalada, shareholder and CEO of RLH Properties, and his wife went to eat at Cenador de Amós. “It was easy, we understood the concept of not replicating anything or having the purpose of getting the stars in a few years.” The aim of Amós, to which he has brought two chefs from Cantabria, is to be a benchmark for everyday food in Madrid, “to be a restaurant where people want to come several times a month.” In this sense, he believes that hotels are opening up to the city. “Now there is life in hotels.”
Another one that has managed to put a hotel, in this case the Villa Rosario de Ribadesella (Asturias), in the gastronomic firmament It is the Asturian Marcos Granda with the Ayalga restaurant. He is not a cook, he started out as head of the room and has become a magician, who adds five stars in the four places he has open –Skina (with two) and Nintai, in Marbella and Clos, in Madrid–. “Gastronomy must be a fundamental part of the hotel, and if it is also in a town it has a brutal impact, which is already being noticed in the reservations,” says Granda, who until January 15 has already closed 150 new reservations in a space with capacity for 18 people. “It’s being crazy, but the important thing now is knowing how to manage all this demand.” He knows that in the league he plays he cannot miss any calls.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.