Updated: Fri, 08/16/2013 - 07:52

Westin 're-envisions' dining and lounge offerings

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After the red ribbon was cut, Michael Searcy lead the way into the newly remodeled Aqua Fuego Champagne & Wine Lounge. (Thomas Reimer/For the Savannah Morning News)
After the red ribbon was cut, Michael Searcy lead the way into the newly remodeled Aqua Fuego Champagne & Wine Lounge. (Thomas Reimer/For the Savannah Morning News)
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The Westin Savannah Harbor Resort has claimed the city’s name as part of its name throughout its 14-year existence.

Click here to view photos from the event and see who was Spotted.

And as the full-service hotel re-introduces its restaurant and lounge offerings today, it does so emphasizing its desire to be “Savannah’s resort.”

“We are a resort not only for visitors who want to experience Savannah but a resort for Savannahians who want to come over and experience world-class facilities,” said David Moses, the Westin’s public relations manager.

The Westin’s dining leadership, Executive Chef Roger Michel and Director of Restaurants and Bars Avi Phookan, made over the physical environments and the menus of the Aqua Star Seafood Kitchen restaurant and its bar, Aqua Fuego, as well as the Midnight Sun Lounge.

The resort invested $600,000 in “re-envisioning” the three spaces. The renovations, the first since 2006, began in March and crews worked “section by section” so the restaurant and bars could remain open.

Aqua Star and Aqua Fuego maintained their clean, modern look, with the focus on the views. The Westin also created a small private dining room as part of Aqua Star that can accommodate up to 35 guests.

Midnight Sun, meanwhile, adopted a Johnny Mercer theme in tribute to Savannah’s favorite musical legend.

As for the menus, Aqua Star features “lighter” fare made from “premium” products.

Chef Michel has kept many of the favorites that have bolstered Aqua Star’s reputation for fine seafood over his 13 years on the job while leveraging his relationships with local purveyors to introduce new menu items.

“The goal is for locals to recognize we are as good or better than any restaurant in town,” Michel said. “”We use the best quality and freshest products.”

The Westin’s Phookan took a similar approach to crafting a new beverage strategy. Aqua Fuego will offer boutique “grower” brands of champagne and wines. Midnight Sun is being billed as a bourbon and chocolate bar, offering 125 brands of the malted whiskey and gourmet chocolates from local chocolatier Adam Turoni.

The new menus also come with new, lower prices. Aqua Star rolled back prices 10 to 12 percent, according to Phookan, and the Westin is also introducing an “insider” program for locals. Participants will receive a 15 percent discount on their food bills, and the program also will offer price breaks and specials elsewhere in the resort, like the Club at Savannah Harbor.

“All the changes should help us maximize our visitor business but more importantly draw people from across the river,” Phookan said.

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