If you’ve never planned a banquet, luncheon or gala before and don’t know where to start – relax! We gathered 5 Frequently Asked Questions – and their answers – from Courtney Padilla, our catering expert at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, to start you on your planning journey!
1. Q: Which is more affordable, a buffet or a plated meal?
Generally plated meals are more cost-effective than buffet meals. Your venue has control over portion size with a plated meal (think of your favorite uncle, returning to the buffet three or four times or your favorite aunt eating sparingly).
Courtney’s Tip: “If you’re trying to stay on a budget, a plated meal is generally the way to go, plus your guests feel more spoiled with full service.”
2. Q: Do you allow outside catering?
Most hotels, like Hotel Albuquerque, do not allow outside catering, however they may offer flexible menus. Hotel Albuquerque is flexible with menu creation: Planners can select from our preset menu items, or if they choose to, they can work with the hotel’s chef to create a customized menu. A variety of dietary needs and restrictions, including allergies, can be accommodated.
Courtney’s Tip: In addition to offering a set menu, “our incredible chef also customizes for you.”
3. Q: When do you need to know my event’s head-count?
The deadline at Hotel Albuquerque is four business days before an event. This allows chef time to order and receive ingredients. All venues generally need a final count ahead of your event.
4. Q: Do I have to pay for linens?
Many venues offer basic linens and centerpieces for no extra charge but can recommend vendors to provide more options. At Hotel Albuquerque, your tables can be set with standard linens that come in a variety of wonderful color options and beautiful calla lily or orchid centerpieces at no extra charge. However, the hotel is happy to refer vendors to provide upgraded linens, like silk or live flowers for your event.
5. Q: Do you allow cash bars or hosted bars, and which is more affordable?
Cash bars (where guests buy their own) and hosted bars (where the host, “hosts” or pays for guest drinks) are both an option at Hotel Albuquerque. You can choose to have only a cash bar, a hosted bar only or any combination of the two during your event.
At Hotel Albuquerque, we have a bartender fee of $150 per bartender per bar, however that cost is waived once $500 in sales is reached.
The hotel offers several hosted bar packages: The Top Shelf package costs $15 per person for the first hour and $11 for each additional hour; the Premium package, which includes premium well drinks, liquor, beer, soda and mixers, is $14 per person for the first hour and $10 for each additional hour; and a beer and wine only package is $12 per person for the first hour and $9 for each additional hour. A cash bar charges by the drink: $20-$40 for super-premium drinks, $9 for top shelf drinks, $8 for premium drinks, $9 for cordials, $8 for wine, $6 for imported beer, $5 for domestic beer, $4 for fruit juice and $3 for soda or water. The hotel also offers sangria, margarita and mimosa stations (by the hour) and can work with its distributor to customize its beer list.
Courtney’s Tip: “A hosted bar is a great addition to an event.”
Courtney Padilla is the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town Catering and Event Expert. Have a question for her? Leave a comment below.