By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
March Into Merivale, the eponymous hospitality group’s annual festival, kicks off this evening with the official launch party to be held in an and around the ivy complex.
With over 180,000 people attending the festival in 2015, the Merivale group is hoping to beat that number this year. With 40% of the festival events sold out before it has even begun, it looks like that goal will likely be achieved.
Andy El-Bayeh, Merivale’s marketing manager, told The Shout that the focus of this year’s festival is a little different.
“March into Merivale was very much focussed around our restaurants and our chefs, but as we’ve grown and diversified, we’ve become more focussed on showcasing the different experiences you can have across the Merivale group, appealing to more people and tastes.”
This year’s theme for the festival is Guilty Pleasures, something that El-Bayeh believes is reflective of what consumers have been enjoying recently.
“We really wanted to up the ante, and develop a fun and playful theme to reflect the mood of March into Merivale. We wanted to get even more indulgent to mirror the trends we saw in the last 12 months in food – you couldn’t walk down the street without bumping into an outrageously OTT milkshake!”
This idea is indeed proving popular, with ‘All Pleasure No Guilt’, the festival’s most expensive event at $300 per person selling out the quickest. The event is a five-course, silver service dinner, created by Merivale Chefs that between them have nine hats.
For El-Bayeh, there are a couple of stand-out events.
“I’m really excited about Guilty Pleasures Fridays and what we have planned so that people can indulge in blameless, shameless fun full of cheesy music and cheeky cabaret performances – it’s going to be awesome!
“My favourite event is Room For One More – the cocktail extravaganza that takes over 16 rooms at Establishment Hotel. It’s full of guilty pleasure cocktails in outrageously themed rooms.”
With the festival running until 20 March, there’s no doubt that this year’s festival will once again prove popular among Sydneysiders and tourists. El-Bayeh is happy with what the festival highlights for the group.
“I think it’s really showcased just how many amazing venues we have and what amazing talent we have – March Into Merivale maximises that and brings it all together to give our customers an opportunity to try all our different brands, as well as be introduced to more experiences.
“We pride ourselves on this festival; We pride ourselves on value; we pride ourselves on going above and beyond and offering extraordinary experiences. It’s all about giving back to our guests and giving them an insight into our world and how we see food and hospitality – and having fun along the way.”