What Does A Complimentary Hotel Breakfast Look Like During COVID-19?

There are so many things I wonder about in the post-COVID world.  I still haven’t gotten on an airplane since March and don’t have any tickets booked.  My friend Mike who writes the Coworkaholic blog took a road trip from Chicago to Orlando this week.  He stopped at two different Hyatt Place properties on the way.  Here’s what he found.

It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of traveling in a post-COVID world. And almost as long to put my thoughts together on my first experience. For over 5 years it was normal for me to stay at 50+ different hotels or rental properties a year. So, while I was yearning to get back on the road after 90+ days sheltering in place at home, I was concerned about doing so responsibly.

Before leaving, I still didn’t think the United States is currently a place where traveling purely for pleasure is something you should do. Unless you are opting for road trips and socially distant nature related activities. I recently bought a car, and opted to drive, rather than fly to Orlando, FL. My purpose being to house hunt as part of a relocation to there later this summer.

1,100 miles and a week in hotels later, I stand by my initial gut feelings. In no part due to any issues I witnessed with businesses, but purely with our fellow man. To travel and to partake in activities like theme parks, pools, beaches, restaurants, etc requires a higher level of responsibility that many seem to not want to bear.

So far on this trip, I have stayed at two Hyatt Place properties. One in Louisville (East) and the other at Orlando/Lake Buena Vista. Both had hand sanitizer stations at the front desk and elevators. The Louisville property had plastic shields in place and had moved the credit card terminal onto a stand, enabling social distance. Human nature being what it is, habits are hard to break. The front desk agent (wearing a mask) still reached for my ID even as I was holding it in a manner to show, not hand it over.

In Louisville, the agent also proactively prepared me for a limited breakfast offering and apologized for the pool and gym being closed. In the morning they had bags with trail mix, a granola bar and a fruit cup…but no spoon to eat with.

When checking into the Orlando property, I noticed a far more casual take. No masks on any staff. No shields. Handing over forms for me to sign and not following proper distance. The pool? Open! The hot tub? Bubbling! The gym? Still no. Their breakfast offering was a welcome improvement, but isn’t adequately stocked. Because no one follows the rules, it was empty by 7:45am one morning and took longer to get restocked then it did for me to go to Starbucks down the street.

All in all, these two properties were following their minimum state requirements. On Hyatt’s website it mentions providing face covering for all employees, so I’m not sure where the disconnect there is for the Orlando property. The hotels were all in fine shape and appeared to be quite clean. Tables were pulled aside to limit seating. Sanitizer was flowing. But, that is not the issue. The issue is our behavior.

I’m not a doctor, but I do have a doctor and I follow his instructions. Until everyone gets comfortable with wearing masks in public and truly following social distancing, I don’t think I’m going to be all that comfortable traveling.

The Final Two Pennies

To Hyatt’s credit, they reached out to me shortly after this story went live.  A Hyatt spokesperson shared the following with me:

The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is always a top priority. At this time, in light of COVID-19 and with the safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues in mind, Hyatt requires colleagues to wear face masks – and additional personal protective equipment based on job specifications – at all Hyatt hotels globally. Guests are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing in hotel public areas. In some locations, based on local government ordinances, guests may be required to wear face coverings in hotel public areas. 

I am glad to see Hyatt is concerned that their properties aren’t complying with the new standards.

I appreciate Mike sharing his recent experience with me.  I have some thoughts about what hotel breakfast will look like over the next few months/years.  I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to share those thoughts with you.

I imagine we’re going to see wildly different reactions from hotels and also hotel chains in terms of what will be provided.  More importantly, it will be interesting to see what the chains will enforce when properties don’t provide benefits to loyal customers.

As an aside, Mike also stopped at Universal Orlando to see what the theme park world looks like right now.  It’s an interesting read.

What’s important to you right now in regards to a hotel breakfast?  If you are traveling, do you want a “regular” breakfast or would you prefer something safer?

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28 Comments

  1. Not sure if Hyatt Place is a “gauge” on how things are going, point is they food service has been in a decline quality wise for quite sometime some properties I would rate alongside a Holiday Inn Express. I think when we travelers see more represented hotels then we can fairly gauge. I have a stay in a Marriott property coming up in two weeks in the Bay Area so will see how they handle it.

  2. Florida is showing how it should be done. 1% of fatality. That’s the bitter pill. Swallow it.

    The weak should die. That’s the law of nature. Right now they are taking even the strong with them. 3 million. Just assume that many will die. Hope it’s no one you know and full speed ahead.

    If all took our bitter pills fast we all could get back to our lives sooner. Right now we have put everyone’s life in good for saving 3 million people that will die anyway unless we find a vaccine. And the fed is propping up zombie companies with its intervention. We would be better off if those companies died quickly.

    If you want to follow capitalism, follow capitalism. This hybrid is the worst of all the worlds.

    1. debit – I don’t know where you’re getting your data from, but it’s woefully wrong. The current cumulative infection/test rate for FL is 6.6%. The rate for the week of 6/14 was almost 8.5%, the majority of them probably folks like yourself, who don’t believe it’s real, never wear protection, and went out and partied Memorial weekend.

      1. The infection rate isn’t the issue just as it isn’t with the flu. The issue is the death rate. If a million people are infected, but only 10 die, that is something we can live with. If the infection rate is high but no one dies and few go to the hospital, again, that is good news, not bad. How many get the flu each year and we have not heard anything about the flu since any of this began. The higher wrong is the shut down that caused so many lose their livelihoods, businesses and jobs. Beyond this are those that have not taken the care they needed – no well-baby appointments, no cancer screenings, no treatments, no checkups. All of this is far worse and the hotels and travel are a sign of just that. Open back up and let everyone get back to normal. At 95% or more survival rate, the alternative is painfully causing more destruction than the virus itself.

    2. From what I see Florida’s percentage of deaths is 3%, not that’s much of a difference. Mostly is because now most of the newly infected are young people you can see huddled together in bars, restaurants and beaches, no mask either patrons or personnel. Concentrated mostly in urban areas. Nothing happening in most suburban communities.

        1. Check out Matt gaetz of Florida. He introduced his “son” yesterday to the public. Makes me think we are still living in the 50s.

          That’s drama for you.

  3. I wish Hyatt would do a better job of explaining what their properties are currently like. “Some of the hotel’s services are limited or temporarily suspended” doesn’t really help. Seems like phone calls are making a comeback if you actually want to know what’s going on.

  4. Ed: I need to get to Pittsburgh from San Francisco. I’m considering going by train. I have plenty of time. If I did I would take a “bedroom.” Privacy and my own toilet and shower. I’m not sure what dining would be like. In the past one shared a table with three others for three meals a day. I like trains and I enjoyed going from San Francisco to Chicago after surgery when I was not allowed to fly. How do you feel about the safety compared to flying?

    1. David, I’ve done Amtrak long haul. We did the Auto Train last year. I didn’t find it too bad. I found the staff to be helpful and friendly. I think they would do fine on the cleanliness, and I imagine the trains would be empty. I would also guess foodservice would be at a minimum. While I think flying is largely safe, if you had the time and the costs were similar, I’d consider the train.

    2. Hey David, if I remember correctly, Amtrak offers room service for your meals on the train, which, of course, are included in the price of your sleeper accommodations.

  5. If Hyatt is stating that employees at all properties are supposed to wear masks they have to enforce this. I know that Florida doesn’t really care and they think they are exempt from getting COVID but if the Hyatt policy is all employees wear masks then they should be wearing masks. They will get a bad reputation pretty fast and some people will avoid the brand all together if they don’t know if all the rules are being followed from property to property. Also people will probably assume that Hyatt is lacking in other areas as well, like not cleaning the rooms in a way to remove traces of the virus left by guests. They really need to enforce their own policies.

    1. Chanel, I agree they need to enforce the policies. The conversation I had with Hyatt makes me think they take this problem seriously. I run some restaurants and we’ve had instances where employees didn’t have their mask on correctly. We’ve spent a lot of time coaching why it’s so important, so I know it takes a lot of effort to get everyone pointed in the right direction.

  6. I don’t know why the pool and hot tub would be closed. Chlorine is an effective killer of all germs. And when you smell chlorine in the vicinity of the pool, that shows chlorine is in the air, too.

    Your photo of the self-serve breakfast bar shows nothing wrong that I can see. I’m not going to lick the outside of the yogurt container, so even if some germy guy before me happened to contact the yogurt I was going to pick up, I think I’ll be OK.

    This is just an excuse for hotels to reduce breakfast service. Even hot food, the requisite buffet of scrambled eggs, sausage, oatmeal could be provided by having these items in the kitchen and individually served by an attendant upon request,

    As to the water pitchers and orange juice spigots, again, I don’t plan on drinking juice with my fingers, so any contamination there would remain on my fingers and won’t make entry into my mucus membranes. Alas, anyone remaining concerned can quickly go to a nearby sanitizer machine for a squirt of gel, if your are inclined to lick your fingers or yogurt cups.

    This make sound comical, but it’s indeed true. Don’t lick the outside of the yogurt containers or food wrappers, and if you feel that strongly, utilize a nearby gel dispenser and most importantly, enjoy your breakfast.

  7. Elite members with longtime loyalty with all chains might be offered a $10 food-for-breakfast credit,instead of a brown bag breakfast filled with unhealthy processed foods….no spoon required! Thank you, travel on. STAY SAFE, THIS IS NO HOAX.

  8. good, if you are uncomfortable ,don’t travel, then we ,who DON”T hide behind our sofas at home with a mask on can go on living our lives in freedom rather than living in media and government induced fear.

  9. does it not bother you to live your days and years out in fear of a virus that kills FAR less than 1% if you count all the undocumented Asymptomatic cases,of those it infects?I mean what would you do if you had to go to war?,that would be something that would be surely risking death, yet many have had to do it, without a ridiculous face mask. I am shocked at how many frightened people live in this country, and to stop living is in reality dying…slowly

    1. As a point of reference, positive cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in a number of areas around the country right now. We each have our own comfort levels. I won’t be leaving my house without a mask anytime soon.

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