The experiential dining race is on, and hotels are adding new twists to their dishes, drinks, and the ways in which guests enjoy their meals. One trend in particular—the food truck craze of the past decade—has made its way into events, meetings, and hospitality spaces. However, some hoteliers see food trucks as more than a fleeting fad. The scale and mobility of trucks and carts strategically positions them so that hoteliers can nimbly adapt to guests’ changing tastes.
Montage Palmetto Bluff, a luxury resort in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, takes the aforementioned position when it comes to the property’s new food truck program. Executive Chef Nathan Beriau says that food trucks are about driving experiences for guests, an overall shift in consumer preferences that isn’t likely to fade away anytime soon. “As long as food truck programs are done at a high level with focus on quality service, food, and beverage, they will always remain relevant, and not just a trendy idea,” Beriau explains.
After undergoing an expansion that increased the resort’s meeting and event space to 16,000 square feet, Beriau says that the team saw an opportunity to take their craft on the road and into areas of the property not traditionally accessible for catering or food and beverage services. The resort’s primary food truck, called “Big Carol,” was designed as a blank canvas with a kitchen layout that could be adapted for any cuisine style. “The kitchen is similar to how you would design a resort restaurant—fully functional and versatile for all meal periods,” Beriau explains. Big Carol has a fully functioning kitchen with a variety of menus that can be changed to meet guests’ preferences for meetings and events.
The truck is also presenting new possibilities for the resort’s F&B programming. “It’s an incredible amenity that we are only just now tapping into,” Beriau says. “There are many plans in the works that include chef pop-ups, cooking seminars, farmers markets, and charity events.”
The resort also added two additional mobile F&B options—a vintage-style teardrop camper constructed from bourbon barrels and converted into a portable bar, and a box bike that serves up s’mores. “The Little Brown Wagon” gives the hotel a chance to take bourbon tastings and beer taps mobile to other areas of the property. “We can literally create an event with a restaurant-style offering in any area of the property,” Beriau adds. The “S’mores Cart” recreates the nostalgia of door-to-door baked goods and dairy deliveries while it supplies all the ingredients and tools needed for guests to make their own fresh s’mores.”Guests in a luxury hotel look for experiential opportunities that they can create memories around,” Beriau explains. “We are in the memory-making business.”