It’s all about choices for group dining while on a tour.
Some follow the traditional model, with the group sitting down for a luncheon with menus chosen in advance.
Other tour planners give their group hours to explore, with opportunities to eat on their own.
Some take the middle route, including meals in the package while allowing individuals to chose when and what they’ll eat.
At The Red Lion Inn, a historic property in Stockbridge, Mass., group dining options are flexible enough to suit all types of tours.
Some choose to stay at the Berkshires inn, while others visit for a formal luncheon or drop by before or after a walking tour of historic Stockbridge. Some take a boxed lunch with them when they visit the Norman Rockwell Museum or Berkshire Botanical Garden.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years and have been listening to trends,” Red Lion Inn sales manager Brian Butterworth said. “Originally, we thought about group luncheons.
“We still do that, but the trends we hear about are more about choices.”
All four of the inn’s dining areas — the formal dining room, the seasonal courtyard, Lion’s Den pub and Widow Bingham’s Tavern — feature locally-sourced ingredients. All provide hospitality, building on two centuries of tradition.
The Red Lion Inn’s menus reflect a philosophy of buy local to sustain neighboring farms and the local landscape.
Brian Alberg is the inn’s executive chef and director of food and beverage. With Red Lion Inn since 2004, the Culinary Institute of America graduate is a James Beard Foundation member. He is also president of Berkshire Grown, an organization dedicated to promoting the support of local agriculture and strengthening the relationships between local farmers and restaurants.
His seasonal dishes combine traditional New England recipes with modern flavors.
The wine list features more than 200 selections.
With notice, tour planners can ensure group members have a place at the table.
Butterworth and the sales department can arrange the details of the visit.
Two recent additions have proven popular for groups.
“We sell a prix-fixe coupon for lunch and dinner,” Butterworth said. “Group members can eat whenever they want and it’s already paid for.”
The other recent change came about when tour operators were suggesting a meal at the Red Lion Inn during free time.
Some group members would show up without notice, and there wasn’t always room. Butterworth began working with tour operators to take reservations.
Now, the day before the visit, planners can call to advise how many are planning on dining. It provides groups’ members with flexibility and choice.
Many groups choose to stay overnight at The Red Lion Inn.
A charter member of Historic Hotels of America, the circa 1773 inn has been providing food and lodging to guests for more than two centuries.
With the addition of the newest guesthouse, Maple Glen, the inn offers 125 antique-filled rooms and suites, a gift shop featuring locally-made items, nightly entertainment and amenities including free wireless, a year-round heated outdoor pool and in-room massage therapy.
Maple Glen, which opened in July, is located on the corner of South and Maple streets just a few doors down from the main inn. The expansion includes a renovation of the 2,685-square-foot, 2½-story Greek Revival residence built in 1850, adding 17 guestrooms and a small conference room.
The Red Lion Inn
Historic Hotels of America