Westin Whistler eatery rebranding pays off

WHISTLER, BC—Westin Resort & Spa in Whistler, BC, is home to a renovated and rebranded eatery, Grill & Vine, which opened on Nov. 29.

By Don Douloff

BC—Westin Resort & Spa in Whistler, BC, is home to a renovated and
rebranded eatery, Grill & Vine, which opened on Nov. 29.
The renovation of the restaurant cost $600,000.

wanted to increase our in-house and external capture,” Westin Whistler
general manager Tony Cary-Barnard told PRN. Grill & Vine aims to
attract hotel guests, the local Whistler population and guests at other
hotels in the village in order to grow overall revenue, he said.

growth in December year-over-year was, overall, 60 per cent (including
breakfast, après ski, dinner and the grab-and-go area offering Starbucks
espresso-based beverages, sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit) and
dinner covers grew by 80 per cent,” according to Cary-Barnard.

added that internal and external capture for the month grew by 25 per
cent and capture with families also increased. Average food check at
dinner in December was $34 per person, he said.

In addition to
increasing revenue, the Starwood/Whistler team wanted the new
restaurant to complement Westin’s lifestyle branding.

didn’t want just another hotel restaurant—we wanted something unique,”
said Cary-Barnard. The restaurant had operated under the previous brand
of Aubergine Grill since the hotel’s launch in 2000.

The team
looked to the Grill & Vine at the Westin San Francisco Airport in
California, which opened in 2012, for inspiration. Components of the San
Francisco restaurant incorporated into the Whistler eatery include a
design that updates the classic grill: varied seating options, including
communal tables, a farm-to-table menu highlighted by grilled items and
small, shared plates, and a wine program featuring by-the-glass vintages
dispensed from an Enomatic system, augmented by flights and tastings.

Whistler, the team sought to “take the Grill & Vine concept to the
next level,” Cary-Barnard said. To that end, they added several new
features: a stone pizza oven turning out Neapolitan-style pies; an open
kitchen along the back wall and a grab-and-go, which also offers the
full Grill & Vine menu for takeout, said Cary-Barnard.

Pizza is important to attract families (a key demographic at the Whistler property), said Cary-Barnard.

the kitchen is Vancouver-born executive chef Brad Cumming, who favours
putting a modern, local spin on traditional dishes, said Cary-Barnard.
Whenever possible, food is sourced from local suppliers.

items include a margherita pizza, wild boar lasagna with smoked
mozzarella and Lois Lake steelhead salmon with pickled shallots.

a complement to the food, there’s a 100-label wine list, half of which
are Canadian labels. The Enomatic system—which preserves wine for up to
30 days via inert gas—dispenses 16 vintages by the glass. Eight draft
and a selection of 12 bottled beers, along with 24 cocktails, round out
the drink menu.

The Grill & Vine team worked with
Vancouver’s B+H CHIL Design to create an open, 3,300-square-foot,
105-seat space. Design elements include white oak accents, stone pillars
and dark slate tiles.

Looking ahead, Cary-Barnard said Westin
parent company Starwood Hotels and Resorts is exploring additional
options and more Grill & Vine locations are “in the works,” but none
have been finalized.

From beginning to launch, the Westin
Whistler Grill & Vine rebranding was a two-year process that
involved the Starwood team, the hotel’s food and beverage manager, Jeff
O’Brien, Cumming and Cary-Barnard, who joined the property just over two
and a half years ago.