Loews Hotels & Co is a luxury hospitality company that owns or operates hotels and resorts in the United States and Canada. It is not a “one size fits all” company. “Our brand of hotels range from value to luxury depending on geography,” says Loews Corporate Beverage Director Grant Hewitt.Hewitt has been with the company for more than six years and brought a lot of experience with him. “I brought over 20 years of Food & Beverage experience ranging from restaurants, bars, lounges, to hotels, resorts and casino’s” he adds.We talked with Hewitt about everything from wine trends like kegs to what he calls “iPhone Sommeliers.”
Please tell us a little bit about your wine program? For instance, how do you decide which wines are best for Loews?It’s a combination of truly understanding our guests from a local, regional and global perspective. We try to blend options that are recognizable along with some options that may lead individuals out of their comfort zone only to enhance their experience.Well that makes sense. How does your wine program work? How do you pick your wines?We have a globally mandated program, that changes every calendar year, but we do allow each hotel the autonomy to add several wines that may be popular in that region. As far as picking new wines, it’s a combination of looking at what options there are that are on-premise only along with several popular (marketed) wines. Straying too far towards the esoteric tends to result in low sales.That makes sense. About how much of your beverage sales are wine?15-20% of our beverage business is wine sales. And premium wines sell the best.It definitely seems like most folks are way more wine savvy than they use to be. Has this affected your decision making?Yes, guests have become much more educated, and they are what I like to call “iPhone Sommeliers.” This leads us to be diligent in choosing options that are not saturated in the market. Guests are just a smartphone away from having real-time information from price to profiles. And this has made us focus a lot more on wines that are on-premise only.Yay! We have a lot of those! And yes, I think we all have to embrace the iPhone Sommelier. How are wine trends like Prosecco, Rosé, and Malbec faring?Trends are good, and we utilize them in a small portion of our program but more so with limited-time offerings. LTO’s give us a great litmus test towards whether these options would be a good fit for our brand.What do you think of wine on tap?Wine on tap is underestimated. There are fantastic tap wines available and several of our hotels have wine on tap and are they are very successful. It’s all about educating your guests.Speaking of education; what role does education play in your wine program?We depend on our supplier partners and distributors to offer continuous and elevated training for all our wines.Definitely part of our job, and a part we love. Spreading the gospel of wine with stories about our wines, wineries, and winemakers. What do you love about your job?I love being in a position to make an impact on both our internal and external guests. It’s great to work with our hotels to create, develop and educate individuals in hopes of inspiring their interests. For our external guests it’s about creating experiences that resonate with them so much they become brand evangelists.Love that. Did you always want to work in the beverage industry, or did you dream of being a rock star? A fighter jet pilot?(Laughing) I just wanted to play James Bond. And still do. Hahaha. All kidding aside, ever since I first stood behind a bar as a bartender, I have had a resounding passion for this industry. Whether people are happy or sad, they frequent bars, lounges and restaurants and I get to be a part of that. It’s been a fantastic road to who I am, getting to meet so many different individuals.If there was one wine you would like everyone to try what would it be?SancerreHow about your favorite food and wine pairing?A big Cabernet with a Double Double from In-N-Out.We bet you are not alone.