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Long gone are the days of stale bread baskets and passable prime rib epitomizing hotel dining. Now, smoked and cured fish trolleys and caviar-topped everything are just a few of the many extravagant culinary experiences guests can expect while staying at some of the world’s best hotels. But when the bar for hotel dining gets raised, so do the demands.
“We receive a lot of extravagant requests from our guests,” Gerardo Say Colmenares, the executive sous chef at Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, shares with Food&Wine. “While ordering a lavish bottle of Champagne on an anniversary dinner is still the norm, many of our guests are now looking for ‘bucket list’ meals and experiences.”
Here are a handful of outlandish dining requests from guests at various five-star hotels and resorts from Canouan to Croatia that will make you feel a whole lot better about asking for extra dressing on your salad.
A High-Flying Dessert
Quite possibly the OG of over-the-top dining requests, this story dates back nearly twenty years. According to the hotel’s 150th Anniversary book, a guest at France’s Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc wanted to try a Tropezienne tarte for dessert. At the time, they were only available in St. Tropez, nearly 60 miles away.
Although the dessert typically required advanced booking, the guests didn’t want to wait. So, the hotel flew a concierge via helicopter to pick up the dessert. The tarte only cost five euros, but the helicopter cost €2,000. A similar request would be impossible today as it does not align with the hotel group’s sustainability ethos.
5 Soups For You!
One VIP guest at the Mandarin Oriental New York had a serious thing for soup. During their three-day stay, executive chef Toni Robertson said the culinary team would create five different full-sized bowls of soup for the guests to taste each day. After a spoon or two of each soup, the guests decided which broth they preferred that day and would then finish the winning bowl.
An Apple a Day
At the luxurious and remote Park Hyatt Maldives, one Italian couple had a pre-arrival list of requested foods and how they'd like them served, Roman Fernando, the hotel's director of food and beverage, shared. The list included specific types of salad leaves, which vegetables could be served with the skin on and which with the skin off, as well as how they were to be cooked.
When it came to fruits, there could be no spots and no skin. Their preference list included mangosteen, papaya, peaches, apricots, red dragon fruit, guava, and pomegranate, all cut into segments with any in-edible seeds removed. Each type was served on separate plates so the fruits didn't touch each other.
A Request Inside a Request
Guests at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Canouan went all-out for a 50th birthday celebration. According to the assistant food and beverage manager, Octavio E. Fernandez, they requested the resort arrange for a celebrity chef to come and cook all their meals. The chef was flown via private plane to the island, where they stayed in a $ 10,000-per-night villa for four nights.
During their stay, the chef had a few of his own overindulgent requests. Cheeses like Livarot, Sainte-Maure, and Comté were flown in from France. Fresh blueberries and blackberries from an upstate New York farm were also express delivered to the island.
At Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Germany, a guest requested a 250g can of rare white Almas Caviar, according to executive chef Sebastian Haverkemper. Only available over the border in Paris, a member of the team took a 12-hour drive to pick it up so the guest could have it the following day.
The hotel’s chef sommelier, Kristina Schantz, recalls a similar journey when guests insisted on drinking a specific white wine found two hours away in Alsace, France. When she couldn’t acquire it through a purveyor, she got in her car and drove to Alsace to get it.
Afternoon tea is a long-celebrated European tradition. But for one guest at the iconic Palace Elisabeth in Hvar, Croatia, fresh milk wouldn’t suffice. According to the hotel’s corporate food and beverage director, Boris Lovrenčić, they request fresh goat milk instead. Not a typical part of the hotel’s afternoon tea, the food and beverage director drove to a nearby village with the guest’s chauffeur. He then hopped out and milked the goat himself.
For a recent guest at Shutters On The Beach in Santa Monica, California, size mattered. Owen Edson, the hotel's food and beverage director, said the culinary team was asked to collaborate with the guest's personal chef via Zoom to monitor his salt, dairy, allium, oil, and fiber intake for each meal.
Lunch and dinner dishes followed precise ingredient measurements and included a steak cut of choice, served medium with only salt, no sauce or garnish. On the side was lettuce plated with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. His grilled chicken sandwich was to contain shredded iceberg lettuce tossed in Italian dressing and parmesan cheese with plain mayo and sliced tomatoes on an untoasted, slightly tunneled bun.
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