As the Hospitality industry reopens, with the new normal, we bring you a glimpse of what the trends are, with a peek at what the Pullman at Aerocity is doing. The need to go to Al Fresco in dining, as guests prefer outdoors with the assurance of social distancing and healthy eating.

As the world is opening, learning to live with the threat of Corona, people are venturing out, with caution and due care. Hospitality industry is grappling with trying to create secure spaces and also telling the world that they are safe to experience. Social distancing norms, sanitising etc apart, there is the understanding among consumers to avoid closed spaces. Indoors are usually to be avoided, if possible. The big new thrust is towards outdoors and “al fresco” experiences; this is an Italian expression for “in the fresh/open air”

Al Fresco dining is always trendy and there’s nothing better than dining outdoors. Today’s diner wants an experience, after months of staying home, wishes to get out with friends and family.

It is becoming the trend, universally, and we at Destination India, look at one such experience to understand how it works.

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At the Pullman/Novotel at Delhi’s Aerocity, at Food Exchange they have taken the emphasis away from the indoors to the outside lawns and re-created a totally new experience.

Diners can take advantage of the outdoor scenery sitting around 5000 sq. ft. Kitchen Garden where they grow fresh, organic and seasonal produce.

The outdoor seating is spacious and well-ventilated and Mother Nature provides its own ambience and great views. It’s a more festive atmosphere with beer garden style bench seating and garden patio tables. With the onset of the coming winter, grills and barbeque would add additional charm.

Packaging this experience, it is essential hot the hotel to reinforce their standard “protect your health and ensure good hygiene”, with Accor’s ALLSAFE label certified. The ALLSAFE label represents their new elevated cleanliness protocols and standards have been met in the hotel.

Additionally, “Contactless menus” featuring QR codes that customers point and scan with their smartphone’s camera, taking them to an online digital menu where they can browse food and drink options. In restaurants, these contactless menus are normally small table-top postcards. This replaces the need for physical menus – meaning a safer experience for everyone involved. Additional steps have been taken to meet social distancing guidelines, tables set ups are at least 6 feet apart, ­­servers wear a protective face shield, mask, gloves and change them often. Any surface where food is served or consumed is properly cleaned and sanitized before and during meal service, including carts, utensils, equipment, desks, tables and serving stations.

Speaking to Destination India, the Pullman Novotel Aerocity GM, Biswajit Chakrovarty, said “It is all about assuring the guest that all safety norms are in place . Besides adhering to Government directives in safety, an international Company like Accor has its own label ‘ All Safe’  in place. Most of our hotels are certified in terms of hygiene, sanitisation, social distancing and detailed safety measures in operations to keep our stakeholders safe.”

Asked to comment on the immediate business possibilities, he said in the coming days, he saw more traction in F&B as people are keen on stepping out – if a safe environment is ensured. The experience of eating out is irreplaceable – even home delivery is now saturated, he said.

“The other business streams would be local staycations, and domestic FITs would slowly bounce back. There have been serious enquiries for socials and weddings, and people are willing to adhere to the new norms and restricted numbers .

He said he would be happy to see Government prioritise the industry more and give more leeway in numbers (diners) for restaurants, banquets, less stringent alcohol rules  and the industry will adhere to safety rules. A few tax concessions to the industry over Q4 and rebates on licences, duties for an already bleeding industry will provide the required impetus.