Hospitality/Leisure

Light’s ‘most crucial element in dining’ says top hotelier

A smiling blonde woman in a red dress
Emma Banks, vice president of food and beverage strategy and development at Hilton in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says that good lighting design ‘can elevate an average design’ and bad lighting can ‘destroy the aesthetics and ambience of the most beautiful spaces’.

LIGHTING IS the most important element of a successful food and beverage concept, a top hotelier has declared.

Emma Banks, vice president of food and beverage strategy and development at Hilton in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says that good lighting design ‘can elevate an average design’ and bad lighting can ‘destroy the aesthetics and ambience of the most beautiful spaces’.

‘Lighting is often considered an extra expense but, it can make or break the design, atmosphere and experience you are wanting to achieve and deliver within your restaurant, lounge or bar,’ she told Hotelier Middle East magazine.

She was speaking after hearing London restaurant legend Jeremy King OBE speak at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum in Amsterdam.

She said: ‘If I could admire and respect him any more as a true industry great it was at that moment, when all the years of relentlessly discussing the need for lighting designers and why we should not overvalue engineer the lighting or even the desperate pleas of let’s invest in a dimmer, came flooding back, to coin an apt expression.

‘So really, why should we invest in lighting and what are the technical and physical benefits?

‘As we look forward to a period of recovery within the industry, we know our customers are going to be even more demanding around all aspects of their restaurant experience from hygiene and cleanliness, authenticity, provenance, service styles, and yes, design will become even more critical.

‘Good lighting design can elevate an average design and bad lighting can destroy the aesthetics and ambience of the most beautiful spaces.’

She points to lighting’s ability to change a space from lunchtime to evening dinner, such as at the Bull & Bear restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Dubai.

She says lighting can transform an all-day brasserie like a ‘chameleon’.

She believes hoteliers should listen to lighting designers’ views on the warmth of the colours and other aspects of of the lighting scheme, as it can serves to make food look more appealing.

Banks joined Hilton from the Jumeirah Restaurant Group, the dedicated restaurant division of the UAE based Jumeirah Group, where she was managing director.

Having worked in both the UK and the Middle East, Banks has a wealth of knowledge from F&B retailing, strategy, and operations, with a focus on delivering customer experiences and a strong team culture.
Banks holds a Bachelor’s degree from Leeds University.