The 40-storey Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou has no problem filling its events and conference venues. Surrounded by cultural and commercial landmarks such as the Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Guangzhou Opera House, the Canton Tower and the Guangdong National Museum, the upscale luxury hotel has one of the most coveted locations in the city.
In recent years, however, the hotel has found a new source of events business for its banqueting team – offsite catering. As a growing number of companies take their product launches and other functions to places outside the standard hotel ballrooms and meeting venues, Ritz-Carlton has risen to the challenge.
In recent months The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou has developed an impressive freelance résumé of catering that includes a wide range of offbeat venues. From luxury dining aboard cruises along the Pearl River to high-class canapés at shopping mall sited luxury brand launches, no location has proved impossible for the hotel’s peerless culinary experts.
Largest event to date
When luxury car brand Audi launched its new A6L model in March last year, it tapped the hotel to provide the outside catering for the four-day event, held at the premier Guangzhou International Sports and Entertainment Center. Nicole Tan, director of public relations at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou, says: “It was the largest event we have ever done.”
On paper, the brief was simple enough. The scope of service required the hotel to provide nibbles at the pre-dinner cocktails, followed by a full four-course dinner on each day of the launch. Audi, of course, gave strict guidelines requiring the official catering to come up with a creative food presentation in line with the overall event theme.
Tan says: “We did a lot of surveys as well as gathering a huge volume of information to understand the design concept and characteristics of the events. We even studied the selling points of the new car model.” By the time the menu for the four-course dinner was approved, the hotel’s F&B team had already clocked in extensive man-hours dedicated to the event.
The Guangzhou International Sports and Entertainment Center is a familiar venue to The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou. Back in 2008, the hotel provided another offsite catering service for the NBA China Tour.
With a straightforward, precise brief and experience of the venue, the event should therefore have been a breeze. Even the table set-up was provided by Audi’s assigned event company. But even the best-laid plans can run into unexpected problems, and soon the project became the hotel’s biggest offsite catering job and its most complex.
Tan says: “It was much more complex than we thought it would be in terms of requirements for staff, equipment and crockery.”
The hotel already had a full roster of events within its own premises. At the Sports and Entertainment Center, a tight ship was required and additional crockery had to be brought in alongside 100 temporary servers. It was a huge investment for any caterer.
To keep things running smoothly, the event was planned in exacting detail. This fussiness for the nitty-gritty paid off, though, as the four-day A6L car launch extravaganza rolled off the production line without a hitch.
For the first three days, the hotel served small canapés during the day and catered for the evening gala dinner, closing the event with an appreciation party on the fourth and final day. Tan says: “Everything was under control since we ourselves had very good preparation. We had several rehearsals before the event to forecast and study any possible scenario that might occur. As a result, we had back-up and contingencies planned in advance.”
The 90-minute dinner, which was the major component of the job, ran without any delays or miscues. The food was divine and the entire dinner service was conducted in perfect alignment to the prescribed event rundown. Tan says: “The guests were very happy and satisfied with our service and professionalism.”
By the end of the event, The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou had served a total of 3,000 people at the sports arena over four days. Event organisers at Audi were thoroughly impressed, and subsequently assigned the hotel to cater for Audi’s launch of its new SUV, the Q3, which hit the Guangzhou market in July last year.
EVENT Audi A6L Car Launch
VENUE Guangzhou International Sports and Entertainment Center
DATE March 28-31, 2012
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS 400 people daily over four days
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
VIP guests at the Audi A6L Car Launch were treated to an elegant dinner matched by a mouth-watering menu that was a feast for both the palate and the eye.
- Bread basket: Laugen pretzels, soft rolls, lavash, grissini, finger ciabatta and French baguette
- Starter combination: Marinated trout fillet, pistachio sponge, radicchio salad and lime dressing, paired with pumpkin crème soup and Parmigiano cheese
- Main course – Sea and Land: Steamed cod fish fillet with brown butter on broccoli mousseline, and lemon pepper beef tenderloin with caramelised carrot, goat cheese and pine nuts
- Dessert: Called “A6er”, the special themed dessert was composed of chocolate mousseline, raspberry and mango, and plum cake with sour cream sorbet