Custom wine cellar displays can provide a major financial revenue boost to hotels and restaurants. In this article we will explore the hospitality industry, looking at examples of how commercial wine cellars have helped bring in more customers for business owners. In addition, we will look at how wine cellar designers, installers and contractors can win this big-ticket commercial business.
Custom designed wine cellars can provide a major revenue boost to a hospitality business.
Hospitality wine displays are a great business niche for specialist wine cellar designers.
This is a guest article from expert Steve Pantalemon who will share some of his experience and insights in winning and building big-ticket commercial hospitality custom wine cellar displays.
What Are the Benefits of Having A Hospitality Wine Cellar?
A hospitality wine cellar is an addition that enhances a restaurant or hotels display and presentation of wine. Its purpose is to improve a business’s visibility by installing a wine cellar that aesthetically matches the design of the room and for people to enjoy their food and drink. It also has the effect of improving the perception of the establishment’s expertise associated with wine and the quality of the wine it carries. This means the hotel or restaurant can see an increase in patronage as well as an ability to sell higher quality wines. Ultimately this means more profit per customer.
As soon as you talk to a hospitality business owner about ways to increase the average profit per customer you will have their attention. This is both what motivates an owner to invest in a custom wine cellar in the first place, but it is also the language you need to speak to win their business.
For example, one of our clients, The Muse Hotel in New York, they were doing poorly in the hospitality arena. They had a lot of trouble bringing people to the bar, and a lot of the people staying at the hotel left to eat elsewhere. They were even not having drinks at the bar. Instead, they were finding other more interesting places to go.
When Ironwine Cellars first started working with The Muse Hotel, they were particularly interested in what we could do to improve their bar and restaurant’s patronage generally. We submitted a design dramatically improving the layout of the restaurant. As a result, it is now one of the busiest, most happening areas in New York to have a drink at the wine bar.
This not only increased the restaurant’s visibility with the people staying there but it also increased their wine and food ticket. They now make millions and millions of dollars from just this display that we put together.
What is a Hospitality Wine Cellar?
It is a commercial style wine cellar specifically designed and built for a restaurant, wine bar or hotel.
How to start working on a hospitality custom wine cellar project?
If this is a large project, then the process starts with getting an architect or a professional design firm on board. A large project would be for businesses such as The Muse Hotel or the Ritz-Carlton for example, a small or typical restaurant, on the other hand, may only need a design from a wine cellar specialist. Most of the wine cellar builders associated with the Wine Cellar Designers Group offer free design services with detailed CAD drawings.
Once you have the designers or wine cellar specialists on board, your initial conversation with them will serve as a “discovery call”. This type of interaction basically involves identifying the scope and limitation of the project. And here are the following important points that could affect the final project plan:
- identifying the budget,
- setting a time frame,
- understanding the union and non-union environment of workers,
- what kind of wine cellar theme are you looking for? (retro, modern, contemporary)
The budget is, perhaps, the most important factor here. The project basically depends on the budget allocated by you.
For a major resort like Deer Valley, that one cost around $200,000. It can even cost up to $500,000 for other major hotels. But for small restaurants, it could cost up to $50,000 depending on other aspects such as space availability. In case you are looking for a home wine cellar, the cost is obviously less compared to a small restaurant. Not unless you want a large showroom for it.
These numbers are basically the typical costs of building a commercial custom wine cellar and are significantly affected by the size and types of wine racks like the use of glass, wood, or brick materials among others.
Coming up with a theme, on the other hand, will require a design. A design idea can come from the designers/specialists or (you) the business that wants a custom wine cellar. Either way, the two entities mesh their respective ideas together and try to come up with a final design that will be put into a 3D drawing (CAD render). The final CAD render is required to portray the layout of the area and plot the design in a professional manner. This could also include furniture placement as well as the colors to be used throughout the space.
What’s it like working on major hotels?
Wine Cellar Designers Group has previously worked with major hotels like the A Voce and Muse Hotel – both located in New York, and Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. These hotels are currently the go-to places especially during evening hours due to the sophisticated yet calming vibe they provide, particularly their custom wine cellars. Previously, people were staying at the hotel, although in their rooms to linger and stay for the night. The place was not a good area to have evening meals nor drinks to kill time. These people would rather go to a nearby restaurant for meals and a bar for late-night drinking.
However, creating a vibe that will make people want to stay in the hotel’s bar/restaurant is easier said than done. Working with these major hotels to establish commercial custom wine cellars requires consistent communication between the designers and the business owners. Factors like materials, glaziers, and an HVAC team to provide the correct humidity and temperature (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and a whole lot more are involved in the discussions.
For A Voce, the custom wine cellar was a glass and metal style with a highlight on the horizontal racks. This type of racking is good should you want the wine to age. Further, the horizontal position of the wine bottles allows the corks to remain moist, which prevents unwanted air contact.
Adding a touch of backlighting further improved the look and feel, allowing the bottles to shine in their full glory. For backlights, micro fluorescent lights are used to achieve that silhouette effect. However, there are several ways to light a wine cellar. These are the following:
- low-heat light sources – since too much heat can affect the quality of the wine, low-heat light bulbs like LEDs are used.
- ceiling lights – this type of lighting works best with floor-to-ceiling shelves since it allows the angles of wine racks to shine.
- LED display lights – LED lights allow for flexibility as they provide dimmable display lighting. Unlike ceiling lights, these work well with freestanding racks or shelves.
- accent lights – if you wish to showcase a specific set of wine bottles, accent lights are the way to go, since they can come in the form of light strips that can be taped along shelves.
- chandeliers or hanging lights – regardless of the look you are going for, hanging lights set the mood automatically for large wine cellars.
There are several design orientations when building a commercial custom wine cellar, but the trend nowadays leans towards contemporary design. It’s a modern-centric style that gives an elegant and clean impression to the eyes. The materials used here can be dominated by glass, but we are also seeing metal and wood combinations too.
As for the likes of Laguna Beach, it has a classic impression due to the prominent wood materials while coupled with glass elements. Moreover, this creates a relaxing ambiance especially when coupled with yellow lights.
What are the challenges of designing hospitality wine cellars?
Building a commercial custom wine cellar isn’t as perfect as it may seem. Typical problems arise from time to time, like inaccurate measurements and a conflicting variance of colors. There are challenges as well like scheduling; particularly shipping and receiving materials. Sometimes, there’s no one to receive the materials, which could lead to delays. But if due diligence is done, as Wine Cellars Designers Group did, these challenges can be mitigated, if not avoided altogether.
Perhaps, one of the most common issues in designing custom wine cellars is condensation; when warm air gets in contact with cooler surfaces. Fogging is also another closely-related issue. However, climate control systems are implemented for prevention. But sometimes, these problems can still occur despite having the right temperature and humidity.
Condensation can happen on the inside or outside of a wine cellar. Even with a cooling unit, moisture issues can develop. If this is the case, the seals around the door might be leaking. But if condensation is happening inside a wine cellar, the culprit could be the cooling system, as it only happens when there is a notable change in temperature. It’s best to get wine cellar cooling experts should that be the case.
What you need to know in winning (and losing) projects or deals when you are a wine cellar builder
Wine Cellar Designers Group has already put itself in a good position when it comes to winning projects as a wine cellar company. If you happen to be a wine cellar builder too, they have a few tips for you.
To win a wine cellar building project, you need to know what you are doing. You should be able to determine the right size of the wine cellar, the materials that can enhance the environment as well as the cellar itself, and even the limitations of the project. Having knowledge of the craft also means building confidence in yourself. Once you’ve built it up, that gets demonstrated to the client or customer.
One of the keys to winning a client is by keeping the project under the budget. A client always has a dedicated budget for a project. As a builder, you do not want to go over the allocation. But instead, make it clear to the client what can be done with those funds.
The effect of a wine cellar in a restaurant or hotel
1000% ROI from a wine cellar
Reputation will play a part when hotel and restaurant owners want to work with you. Steve, from Wine Cellars Designers Group, was asked by the client what they should look for, if they were the ones looking to work with a wine cellar company. He explained that experience in building wine cellars for hotels and restaurants, along with a portfolio containing the designs, should be presented. Therefore, giving the client an understanding of what you have accomplished and what your company can do. It’s a way for hotel and restaurant owners to know your capability and the work you’ve done in the past.
Start designing your hospitality wine storage with Wine Cellar Designers Group. You can get your FREE unique design when you click here.