Restaurateur, Four Seasons veteran launch Appellation brand

American chef Charlie Palmer and hotel industry veteran Christopher Hunsberger have launched Appellation, the first hotel brand born from the merger of culinary and hospitality.

Appellation, meaning “to give a name to a place,” will cultivate community around food and the role it plays in bringing people together, while presenting “approachable luxury” in accommodations and service, according to the brand. Its initial new-build hotels will debut in leisure destinations in Idaho with Appellation Sun Valley (2023) and two regions in California with Appellation Healdsburg (2023) and Appellation Pacific Grove (2024).

Food and beverage are purposely built into the core of Appellation, from lobbies with interactive prep stations to pantries on each guest floor filled with local artisan products and curated cookbook libraries.

“Appellations were created as a promise of authenticity—an earned designation that could exist nowhere else but here,” said Palmer, who serves as CEO and has received more than 20 Michelin stars and numerous James Beard Foundation accolades. “The first appellations centered on food, just as we do today. That name felt appropriate as we create what we saw lacking for today’s luxury travelers—hotels specifically built around a destination’s distinct culinary experiences.”

Palmer currently licenses and consults on 15 hotel F&B outlets averaging 1.25 million covers per year through Charlie Palmer Collective, along with investing in a handful of hotels.

“We’re flipping the traditional ‘hotel first, restaurant second’ notion on its head and setting a new standard for immersion in local culture and community through food,” said Hunsberger, who is the company’s COO. “With Appellation, the intersection of culinary and hospitality is seamless. It is the hotel experience both of us have always wanted.”

The duo met more than 20 years ago when Palmer became the first celebrity chef to enter a licensing agreement with Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels, a program that was led by Hunsberger as global head of product. Hunsberger, who spent more than 30 years in strategic leadership roles with Four Seasons, left after holding positions as president of the Americas and global chief human resources officer.

The initial locations in Sun Valley, Healdsburg and Pacific Grove were selected as much for iconic landscapes as for undiscovered attributes, according to the cofounders. Appellation hotels will range in size with the initial planned properties ranging from 72-225 rooms. All will feature a signature Charlie Palmer restaurant and bar, interactive culinary demonstrations, experiential programming, meeting and event space, a pool, spa and fitness center. Select hotels, such as Appellation Sun Valley, will also offer residences.

In addition to the first three hotels currently under development, plans are already underway for hotels in several other locations.