Interview: Arnaud Zannier on his hotel F&B philosophy

French hotelier Arnaud Zannier takes a approach to F&B across his Zannier Hotels portfolio, which counts properties in France, Cambodia and Namibia, to name a few. His team’s culinary focus on honest and unpretentious menus puts produce front and centre.

He sits down with Supper to talk about the importance of good service, and his favourite couscous.

How did you become involved in hospitality and what attracted you to the industry? 
Through travel – since I was young, thanks to my family and then for work, I had the chance to take some wonderful trips around the world. I had the opportunity in 2011 to purchase a property in the French Alps, and to create my first hotel – what later led to the Zannier Hotels brand.

How would you define the F&B philosophy at Zannier Hotels? 
Having a strong F&B philosophy at Zannier Hotels is essential to me as it completes the overall customer experience. Our clients have great tastes, and appreciate the simple things in life, including at meal times, so gastronomy is one of our key pillars. The recipes are important of course, but so is the concept, the service and the interior decoration as well as all the carefully selected details. We aim to create long-lasting memories in our properties, inviting customers to have a multisensory experience.

How important is gastronomy in the modern hotel experience? 
It is an essential part of it in our modern environments where everything is interconnected. It is especially important in our resorts, where customers stay for a longer period (so visit the same restaurant several times), and stay longer at the table. Being sure to offer a whole gastronomic experience is important for us.

What is the most essential aspect to get right for guests to have the optimal culinary experience?
In order to create the best possible culinary experience for our guests, I think the key element of success is the notion of discovery: surprise is a great memory maker. But as I like to say, beyond the exploration aspect, the emotional element is even more important. From a smiling server greeting you by your name to your favourite wine served without having to ask for it… this is what we advocate in all our F&B outlets, to create the best possible experiences for our customers.

You recently launched your latest project, Nonna Bazaar in Menorca. What can diners expect?  
Nonna Bazaar offers traditional, simple, and delicious Mediterranean dishes accompanied by live music. We wanted to create a chill concept, 100% outdoor, that could please both families and friends, evoking the beauty of the Mediterranean spirit.

What’s your favourite dish from the Zannier Hotel portfolio?  
There are many dishes that I love in our portfolio. In fact, I have validated each and every meal that is on the menu. The couscous at Nonna Bazaar is probably a good example, because it is a traditional Mediterranean recipe that brings back many memories; it’s a family meal that can be shared, a healthy and veggie option, as well as a pretty dish.

Which chefs have inspired your culinary vision for the company? 
I asked my best friend from childhood, Julien Burlat, to be in charge of our F&B at Zannier Hotels. He is a very talented Michelin-starred chef. Both raised in France, we naturally have a similar vision of gastronomy, and I totally trust him for developing our culinary vision further for the company.

What are the biggest challenges currently faced by the hotel F&B sector? 
Probably ensuring quality and consistency of the service. This is a major challenge that most restaurants are currently facing given the increasing recruitment issues. We are lucky to have a low employee turnover and very passionate colleagues. I believe that treating them well is key.

What are the biggest hotel F&B trends you’re seeing at the moment? 
Culinary travel is set to grow rapidly in the coming years. Today, culinary travel is focused on guests learning about the cultural and agricultural origins of the food they’re eating. and the culture from which the ingredients in the dishes are inspired. Of course, the health and wellness sector grows stronger every year – which is why we have implemented vegetarian options for all courses in all our hotels and are currently rethinking our approach to wellbeing in general. Proposing local products and traditional recipes is part of our DNA.