Immersive restaurant company launches with stellar creative team: James Bulmer, former Disney executive and chief executive of The Fat Duck Group, has formed immersive restaurant company Wonderland Restaurants. The company has pulled together a collection of individuals to create an “academy of curiosity and wonderment”. Wonderland Restaurants aims to play an integral part in London’s growing experiential hospitality sector, working on a “number of restaurant concepts and products with award-winning global brands”. The company has also launched Wonderland Labs dedicated to “accelerating and evolving food and drink innovation for existing and future projects”. The core team includes creative director Mike Bagale, former executive chef of three Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago; group executive chef Cláudio Cardoso, former group executive chef of Sushisamba; innovation director Mark Garston, former head of central development for The Fat Duck Group; and chief illusionist Chris Cox, a “mind-reader” and mentalist magician. Bulmer said: “Wonderland Restaurants is a rich melting pot of some of the finest creative minds and storytellers from the world of food and magic. Our company’s vision is to bring curiosity, imagination, emotion and wonderment to the hospitality sector in a way never seen before and build an international portfolio of immersive food concepts. I’m incredibly excited to steer this hugely dynamic team of talented individuals, with an exciting project planned for this year.”
EasyHotel appoints chief executive to head European expansion: EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has appointed François Bacchetta as chief executive to lead its expansion in Europe. He will join the company in the spring from sister company EasyJet, where he has worked for the past 15 years, including as country director for France and Italy with experience of operating in the European travel market. EasyHotel non-executive chairman Harm Meijer said: “We are pleased François is joining us to lead EasyHotel in its aspirations to become a European leader in the super budget hotel segment. He knows the Easy brand and understands its values. He also brings a wealth of experience in developing businesses, strategy, business optimisation, leadership, marketing and revenue management.” Bacchetta added: “With a strong hotel network established in the UK, I believe this is an exciting time for the brand and I look forward to leading the expansion in Europe.” In October, EasyHotel won planning permission to develop a 209-bedroom hotel at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. In the same month, the group also signed a franchise agreement with Ushba to develop a 110-bedroom hotel in Derby and a 20-year exclusive franchise agreement with R&N Services to support the brand’s development in Tel Aviv.