#OverACupOfTealeaves: Achim Lenders of Starwood Hotels & Resorts: Palette as a Mood-setterApr.12.2016
This month, we cheers to the new Tealeaves x Pantone packaging design of our iconic Whole Leaf Pyramid Teabag collection with #PaletteForYourPalate. An online exhibition of tea+color+mood, we explore the detail of color through a culinary approach as well as a documentary on why color matters— at TEALEAVES, we not only blend for aroma and taste, but also for color.
Understanding that “the first taste is with the eyes”, we filmed and learned from influencers, thought-leaders, movers and shakers of industry to see how they apply color in their respective domains. With this same philosophy and curious spirit, we believe that the best “condiment” to any cup of Tealeaves is wisdom to share and a great story to tell. Sip, reflect, enjoy.
Color is not only a trend-setter, but also a mood-setter. As Global Vice President of Food & Beverage at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Achim Lenders understands the impact of palette more than most. With a keen eye for detail, he directs his team to shape moods and experiences of luxury properties, from sleek W Hotel bars to opulent St. Regis Hotel restaurants.
Learn how an expert deftly shapes mood through the subtle details in our interview— after all, color speaks without words.
Over a Cup of Tealeaves with Achim Lenders
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Global Vice President of Food & Beverage
Tealeaves: As Vice President of Food & Beverage of five-star properties, you’re more than familiar with luxury. So what would you say is one of your most memorable luxury experiences?
Lenders: My memorable luxury experience is probably the last suit I got done. I’m at a point in my life where I can afford to splurge a little bit more on some basic things in life, but what I really enjoyed about getting a suit done was that I had the opportunity to have a discussion with the tailor. I had the ability to personalize certain things about the suit.I had the ability to select the button. I could talk to the tailor. He explained to me where the button came in. It wasn’t so much about having a great suit. It was just the entire experience, being there, meeting the people, understanding where the costs come from and having a product that I can wear for many, many years.I feel if you have a product that you’ve been involved in when it was made and when you understand all the finer details, when you wear it it makes you feel really, really good.
It’s not so much buying things or having things, for me it’s more of really understanding how things work and how they have been created and who was involved in that.
Tealeaves: That’s beautiful; it makes us recall images of Japan. There are layers to everything there, both the the details and the experiences.
Lenders: Well, luxury is moving away from owning objects and showing off to having experiences and being closer to the people who actually produce those objects. It’s becoming more about understanding the way it works. Having that, having access to a great professional who has such a mastery of his craft— I think that is really amazing.
Tealeaves: How do you personally define a luxury brand or a luxury experience?
Lenders: For me, a luxury experience is about the service and the attention to detail. It’s relatively easy to produce something, whether it’s a watch, a wonderful car or a good suit. So I think it’s all in the service, in how they deal with you. How they really listen to you and understand what you need before guiding you in the right direction.
Tealeaves: But why do you think that having memorable experiences is important?
Lenders: Memorable experiences give you more fulfillment in your life, a richer life. It makes you a better person. A memorable experience for me is something where a lot of attention has gone into how to create the event, how to select the material. Not everything that we go through is a memorable experience. When you look back, some people spend a lot of time and money on food products and on beverage products and on travel. But when the event is over, the experience of actually having it is gone, so what you have is the memories. I feel that’s an infinite reservoir of making you feel good about things.
Tealeaves: Can you talk about how you lead your team to use color as an influencer in these experiences?
Lenders: Color and texture set the mood. They create the stage for everything else that goes on in the environment. They steer the emotions of the guest towards a certain direction. Aggressive and louder colors for night clubs. Natural colors for a calmer, fine dining setting. For example, when I think of a soothing color, green is a wonderful. Using materials, using also products like leaves etcetera that complement not just the color but also give texture, give different dimension and to a certain extent also create scents and fragrance really puts the guest in a certain frame of mind.
Tealeaves: How do you then approach the different brands under Starwood Hotels & Resorts?
Lenders: We really get to understand and know each individual brand personality. There are customers that go from one brand to another, depending on the mood and depending on the occasion. So if you’re in a party mood, you choose a W Hotel which has a strong bar scene. Hip with a great music program. If you want something calming and sophisticated you may want to go to a St. Regis Hotel, where we look to create bespoke restaurants. Conversely, placing a W Bar in The St. Regis would clash; we need to understand the brand personality first to see that.
Tealeaves: What do you feel is the biggest challenge making a transition from a chef to your position today?
Lenders: The biggest challenge is leaving the kitchen, the cooking. I miss handling the food. I miss the camaraderie in the kitchen, the noises, the smell, the action. At the same time, I believe in evolving; moving forward is part of growing. Nowadays, creating a memorable experience for each guest that walks into a Starwoods hotel or resort is my point of focus.
· On Color, Tea & Tealeaves ·
Tealeaves: We’re wondering, with your experience of using color as a mood-enhancer, what’s your favorite color?
Lenders: My favorite color is red, like the Ferrari red. But I don’t have one. Ducatis— that I do happen to have. Other than that, I just love natural colors from natural materials. Woods and such.
Tealeaves: Now, a light-hearted question— do you have a favorite tea?
Lenders: Yes, I do. I’m not a very big tea drinker, but I love green teas because it triggers certain memories. The smell and the aroma reminds me of my time in Japan. I also think that green tea requires a certain skill to do it properly.
Tealeaves: A follow-up to that, do you have a favorite Tealeaves tea?
Lenders: The Jetlag Therapy Kit, because I am always jetlagged. All jokes aside, I think the Jetlag teas are prime examples of how you’ve taken your knowledge of tea and put it towards the specific needs of the traveller. All of us know, being on the road is not easy. The Jetlag kit offers specific benefits, but it’s also part of my ritual when I’m on the road.
Why color? Stay tuned for Tealeaves documentary, Color In Sight.
· SYNOPSIS ·
We blend teas specifically for color, alongside aroma and taste, with understanding that “the first bite is with the eyes”. Fascinated by color’s potential to excite and delight, TEALEAVES reached out to experts in design to see how they thought about—and used—color. From Nike and OPI to Herman Miller and PANTONE, these experts volunteered their time for this exciting project. Our goal, together, was to bring about appreciation for the little detail of color selection and how it can have a big impact on the products and services enjoyed by many. Coming Soon.
Explore the Documentary on the #PaletteForYourPalate exhibit of tea + color + mood