Breakfast will no longer be most boring meal of the day
Breakfast will no longer be most boring meal of the day
04 MAY 2020 7:48 AM

Breakfast will disappear as we know it in a post-COVID 19 world as hoteliers suddenly realize that their never-ceasing championing of touchpoints is a terrible thing.

The only hotel breakfast I remember was in the Ana Crowne Plaza Toyama in the city of Toyama, Japan.

Breakfast opened at 5:30 a.m., which gave me three-and-a-half hours to investigate some of the city before I had to meet up with a group of hotel executives. It was also memorable as there were some extremely interesting things on the buffet menu, including sushi and sashimi options, that I did not recognize.

Normally, I am underwhelmed with hotel breakfast. It seems unworldly and unforgivably expensive for what is cereal and bacon and eggs, with the whole experience stumbling me deeper into somnolence.

Do not expect any of that going forward as breakfast is changing.

I predict that for 18 months following the reopening of hotels, buffets will be banished, and while I do not see serving staff wearing full personal protective equipment, the number of touchpoints—suddenly not a good term in which hoteliers seek to be more hospitable and comprehending of guests’ need—will diminish throughout properties.

Perhaps the last buffet food-warmer will contain Purell?

For years, the industry has argued back and forth about the necessity of minibars—does anyone still go near them? I think COVID-19 spells the death of this probably once perhaps cool appurtenance.

How food will be served is up for debate. Will pre-prepared food be signed off by cleanliness firms and stored in refrigerators with name tags and pre-timed collection?

As breakfast used to be a meal eaten in half-sleep mode, now we will all have to be more alert and conscious, so also I see changes here indicative of how the entire hotel experience will be provided.

Pillow menus? Out! That’s the other end of the day when our alertness is compromised.

Still, hotels will be trusted more than other accommodations providers such as Airbnb, I would suspect.

We have a store chain in the United Kingdom called Argos, which my parents made me very suspicious of when I was young.

The idea was to walk into an Argos store on the High Street, flip through a fat catalogue on counters and fill in a form of the items you wanted. These would be devilishly modern things such as Clairol 1200 compact turbo hairdryers, Sinclair ZX Spectrum 8-bit personal home computers and truly horrific Metamec quartz “sunray” battery wall clocks finished in polished brass and simulated wood.

Customers never talked to anyone.

Breakfast will be like that, but will this be the hotel of the future? Let’s hope not, but it all depends on vaccines, guest perceptions and other things remaining undiscovered or unmeasured.

One other change will be how we all go to eat whatever breakfast we’re provided with. Will there be a reservation system in order to have fewer people in a room at the same time?

Half an hour to wolf down your pancakes. “Sorry, sir, coffee has to come with milk in order for it to be consumed faster.” Will we continually have one eye on the cappuccino machine to be ready to jump into the space in front of it, or will such machines be done away with?

On the positive side, I see this as an opportunity for people like me to at long last to be provided breakfast that is now more interesting. Let’s face it, eggs in Styrofoam boxes is likely to turn you off lunch and dinner as well.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  • Dave May 4, 2020 12:02 PM Reply

    What continues to amaze me is how willing people are to "awful-ize" every possible situation. Is it more pleasurable to wallow in negativity? As I scour the news each day for active, happy and safe travel occurrences beginning to emerge (and fail to find those stories), sensationalism seems all too familiar... while facts continue to be overlooked. Every crisis since the 1973 Oil Crisis, 1979 Energy Crisis, 1990 S&L Crisis, 1999 Y2K Crisis, 2001 9/11 Crisis and even the 2008 Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis has been accompanied by chants of: Our World is Ending! Things will never be the same! Will it ever be safe to go out again! America's confidence is gone! and the ever-popular "The economy will never recover!" Never... never was this hysteria realized, and it will not be now. When "accurate" data is finally sorted, the Coronavirus and the flu will record similar numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the US this season (even though the country has had a flu vaccine and time to build immunity to the flu for many, many years). That's the real difference between the two... Covid-19 is new... but we will soon have a vaccine, build immunity to it, and give the Coronavirus the same level of attention that we give the flu every year. The fact is that people's memories are short and their fears are short-lived. Within weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Jones will pile the kids into the car, escape from their quarantine, and drive to their favorite summer vacation spot. They will play in the sun, relax by the pool, and start each day with a fresh breakfast buffet, just off the lobby. And they will not give the Coronavirus one second of thought. Are we likely to see pictures and stories of the Jones' adventures? I sure hope so. Perhaps the real question about breakfast should be: "Will articles that spread fun and optimism ever add inspiration to the menu again?" Happy summer, hotel industry!

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