SINGAPORE - The restaurant scene has evolved so much over the years that even the way hotels decide what food and beverage concepts to introduce has changed to suit the times.
Mr Martin Jones, 51, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's vice-president of food and beverage, Asia Pacific, says that gone are the days when the hotel group would build hotel restaurants that included the usual fine-dining restaurant, a coffee house and a lobby lounge.
"Our competitors now are free-standing restaurants, not just hotels anymore," he says. "We are not building hotel-restaurants these days. We are building restaurants that happen to be in hotels."
What is key when considering what restaurant concepts to implement, he adds, are factors such as originality, authenticity, good value and a great overall dining experience.
The Australian bachelor, who has been in the hotel food and beverage industry for more than 30 years, says Starwood has about 50 different food and beverage concepts for its nine hotel brands which include Four Points, Sheraton, The St. Regis and W Hotel.
The group's latest hotel here is The Westin Singapore, which opened at Asia Square Tower 2 in Marina View last month.
It has four food and beverage outlets, including Seasonal Tastes, its signature interactive dining restaurant that includes a buffet; Cook & Brew, a gastro pub with local and international offerings, as well as sharing plates; Daily Treats, a deli; and Lobby Lounge, which offers drinks and snacks.
Mr Jones, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, says that while the group has standard food concepts that are rolled out across the hotels - some are bespoke and others cater to specific hotel brands - they are by no means "cookie-cutter".
For instance, although restaurants centre on a similar function and concept such as an open kitchen, they differ in design and menu offerings to suit relevant markets.
On why local food has been included at some of the eateries at The Westin here, he says: "I think foreigners like local food. Who doesn't like to try the local food of a country?"
As such, Seasonal Tastes, a contemporary restaurant, offers international cuisine that ranges from Western favourites to Thai and Singapore hawker delights such as laksa.
But food offerings in hotels are not just targeted at guests, including corporate travellers, in the case of The Westin Singapore, which is located in the financial district. Food offerings are also targeted at locals, he says.
In fact, many diners here may be familiar with The Westin brand. The Westin Plaza and Westin Stamford hotels were in Singapore from 1986 to 2001, and were well-known for restaurants that included Compass Rose.