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Want wine?

Old Fort Bay Club will have an app for that
  • Old Fort Bay Club member Yolanda Deveaux, right, and Mrs Deveaux were able to try out the new app before its official launch.

  • Old Fort Bay Club Members try out the app whilst lounging on the beach.

  • The Old Fort Bay Club's wine app

  • Old Fort Bay Club bartender Raymond Colebrooke pours a glass of chilled white wine, next to the dedicated bar iPad that will roll out when the club re-opens in mid-September after their annual two week maintenance closure. The use of iPads will allow the club to be more descriptive of its drinks menu and appeal to people's senses visually - before they order. PHOTOS: OLD FORT BAY CLUB

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Aug 18, 2013

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Everyone has one — or at least access to one — a smart phone or a tablet, and because of the explosion, their use has gone beyond the individual customer. These technological innovations are rapidly being adopted by a number of industries, including the restaurant business and some of the top restaurants are bringing their customers an interactive dining experience through the use of the iPad and a virtual cellar app. Using their wine app, diners can flip through the wine list and make an educated decision. This trend is coming to The Bahamas as the Old Fort Bay Club, a members-only club that personifies history and charm, and which is known for barefoot luxury, merges with technology with the introduction of its own wine app.

The Old Fort Bay Club’s wine app that will roll out when the club reopens in mid-September after its annual two-week maintenance closure will allow the club to be more descriptive of its drinks menu and appeal to people’s senses visually — before they order.

“When you look at a typical wine menu, it’s categorized in whites or reds, or maybe regions, and you don’t get much — you’re just going by a name or you’re probably looking for something that you’re familiar with, or a name that you might have heard before. This wine app on the other hand allows you to read about the wine a little more. It will allow us to tell our members about the winemaker, about the region the wine is from. It gives our members a little more information — they get to see the bottle of chilled wine, or the glass of wine in front of them,” said Old Fort Bay general manager Clay Saunders.

Typically when dining, patrons are handed wine menus when they are seated. Come September, once seated in the Old Fort Bay clubhouse, patrons will be handed an iPad. When they choose a particular wine, the iPad application will also give diners the option of viewing the dish that the club’s executive chef, Shaker Estephane, recommends it be paired with. Saunders believes this will be the biggest hit as far as the wine app is concerned. (For those persons thinking they can check their email or an Internet gossip site, that won’t happen. Old Fort Bay Club’s iPads will be locked. Patrons won’t be able to use it for anything else other than looking at the menu.)
“Even though it’s technology and not human-to-human interaction, I think the visuals and the senses that it calls into play, certainly serves the very same purpose as the human interaction in terms of service,” said the club’s general manager.

It’s an app Saunders says he is excited to introduce.

“At Old Fort Bay Club, we signify old history and charm, and here we have new technology merging with that, and I think that’s a wonderful thing to do, but we by no means want to change the feel of Old Fort Bay. We will always be the barefoot luxury place, but still I want members to know that they can have all the modern conveniences one would need, as we know technology is important in this day and age,” he said.

The wine app has already been experienced by a few of the club’s members who Saunders said were all awed by the experience it offered and they no longer have to order blindly.

The technological introduction to the private club that’s only accessible to members and their guests doesn’t impact the general public, but for a mere $40,000 one-time initiation fee, plus $5,000 dues annually and a mandatory $1,900 annual charge for food and beverage (if you don’t use it, you still have to pay), you too can enjoy the wine app experience at Old Fort Bay Club.

Old Fort Bay Club will start off with a minimum of seven iPads — one dedicated to the bar, that members can stroll up to and scroll through the menu, and six for the dining room.

“It’s probably a strange concept, because people like interacting with people, that’s what service is usually all about, but we feel that by using iPads our members can truly enhance the experience because of the ability to make things a little more visual, and also to be able to add a little more detail to certain things,” he said.

For the September launch, the wine app will cover all categories of drinks offered at the club from the wine list to their cocktail offerings and the sparkling libations menu, but Saunders says his goal will be to eventually have their entire menu available on the iPads.

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