How the pandemic has changed hotel breakfasts

Hotel breakfasts aren’t what they used to be. The pandemic has changed them, sometimes making them better, sometimes making them more expensive and sometimes making them vanish. And as many travelers are about to discover this summer, the changes may be permanent.

I’ve seen hotel buffets where everything is wrapped in plastic, including the fruit. Others where you aren’t allowed to touch anything. (Only the servers will assist you.) In some hotels, they only serve a la carte breakfasts, and the staff is still getting used to it, so breakfast takes more than an hour.

“Before the pandemic, brands were going crazy and expanding breakfasts with more and more items in select-service hotels,” says Vimal Patel, president of QHotels, a hotel management company. “There were more than 40 items on the menu, and it was becoming a financial burden to hotels.”

These days, many hotel breakfast menus have been downsized or replaced with grab-and-go items. In a time when many hotels are short-staffed and struggling to make their numbers, these options are more sustainable, Patel says.

About one-third of all U.S. hotels (35 percent) offer complimentary breakfast, according to hotel researcher Randy Greencorn, who maintains a website that tracks hotel fees. Slightly fewer (31 percent) charge for breakfast. The rest offer no on-site breakfast options.

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Food & BeverageCoronavirus: Impact on the Hospitality IndustryUnited States

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