One of the great lines of any Jimmy Buffett song has to be the one in "Cheeseburger in Paradise" where he talks about "warm beer and bread they said could raise the dead" and then says "it reminds me of the menu at a Holiday Inn."
I've often wondered how much Holiday Inn sales have suffered because of that line. I also think back, and lord only knows why, to one day when I was covering the Raptors for the Star and my only dinner option was at the Holiday Inn I was staying at in Newark, New Jersey. You know what? I had one of the most delicious tuna steaks I've tried anywhere.
I bring this up because I spotted a great item by USA Today hotel expert Barb DeLollis. DeLollis, who knows the industry better than anyone, wrote that harried, time-pressed, health-conscious travelers have grown used to ordering what they want at Starbucks or other fast-food-style joints and says hotels are looking to satisfy that need.
"The typical breakfast, lunch, dinner - appetizer, entree, dessert - model is not something that our guests are responding to anymore," Beth Scott, who's in charge of restaurant concepts for Hilton Worldwide's 3,900 properties, said in a recent DeLollis/USA Today story.
"People don't want to ask to be seated and given menus," said Brad Nelson, corporate chef at Marriott International.
DeLollis quotes other hotel types as saying folks want a quick bite instead of sitting down to bacon and eggs.
"Hotels are really trying to move away from that hotel dining room that sits empty seven nights a week," said Scott Gerber, CEO of the Gerber Group, which runs a new spot at the Westin New York Grand Central hotel called LCL: Bar and Kitchen with fresh juices and locally roaster Stumptown coffee.
It makes a lot of sense. I checked into a Marriott in Miami in October for one night and looked around the lobby restaurant. It looked exactly like every other hotel restaurant and the menu was uninspiring, so I dashed across the street to a local seafood joint that wasn't great but at least had some atmosphere.
DeLollis said she expects a lot of hotels could move to places offering small plates or casual restaurants such as Panera or Cosi. The latter is a fine spot in the U.S. with great sandwiches and salads and, as I recall from a trip a few years ago to New York, square bagels in both traditional and non-traditional style. I remember one that was cranberry-orange, which sounds awful but which I loved.
DEAL OF THE DAY: JAMAICA
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, is offering a one-week deal to beautiful Jamaica. Here are the details:
- All-inclusive 7 night stay at the 5-star Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica, located in Runaway bay, Jamaica.
- Includes return airfare from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary, Quebec City, Vancouver or Winnipeg to Jamaica.
- Accommodations in a Junior Suite Room, featuring 1 king or 2 full beds and a balcony or terrace . (Maximum occupancy: 3 adults, 1 child or 2 adults, 2 children)
- Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Three lake-style pools linked together with swim-up bar
- Hydro massage tubs and canopy beds in every room
- Nearly every room in the resort has fantastic views of the ocean
- Valid for travel on the following departure dates:
Toronto: January 22, 26; February 24, 26, 28, 2013
Montreal: January 25; February 09, 22, 23, 2013
Ottawa: February 03, 22, 24, 2013
Halifax: February 11, 18, 2013
Calgary: February 04, 25, 2013
Quebec City: February 01, 08, 22, 2013
Vancouver: February 22, 2013
Winnipeg: January 30; February 6, 2013
- Pricing (Rates are per person):
Toronto: January 22, 26, 2013
1st Child: $785
2nd Child: $175
Toronto: February 05, 24, 26, 28, 2013
1st Child: $845
2nd Child: $235
Montreal: January 25, 2013
1st Child: $1088
2nd Child: $598
Montreal: February 9, 22, 23, 2013
1st Child: $1288
2nd Child: $688
1st Child: $895
2nd Child: $275
1st Child: $955
2nd Child: $345
1st Child: $1135
2nd Child: $495
1st Child: $1258
2nd Child: $668
1st Child: $1145
2nd Child: $505
1st Child: $1015
2nd Child: $395
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is refundable until 5pm EST on January 16, 2013. After this time, this offer is 100% non-refundable