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Monday, August 18, 2008

10 things that annoy us about hotels # 8 The bane of our existence, bain-marie breakfasts

Often we have trouble facing the hotel breakfast buffet. After a month on the road we’re avoiding the bain-marie and its barely edible scrambled eggs and burnt-to-bits bacon. While some hotels really do take the trouble to do fresh eggs, often the cook doing the eggs is there as punishment for assorted kitchen crimes and it shows in the food. One of the problems is that the hotel is generally cooking for the expectations of foreign tourists and businesspeople-in-a-hurry, rather than locals and adventurous leisure travellers looking to try local food. Hence the generic bland scrambled eggs and burnt bacon, rather than a well-thought-out breakfast based on what's eaten locally. If you’re in Italy, why not just have an espresso and a coronet (croissant) and skip the stodge? In Germany, have some wonderful rye breads, cheese, and cold meats? In Greece? Then honey and yoghurt is the way to go. If everyone starts leaving the bain-marie alone, the hotels can put the resources to better use… and give travellers a better experience of local culture and a better start to the day.
The InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City does some of the best five-star hotel breakfasts we’ve ever experienced (including a delicious Arabic breakfast with piping hot flat bread made to order, as well as a range of breakfast treats from around the globe), so we asked the hotel's Executive Chef Geoff Haviland to respond: “Today’s world travelers are much more savvy and demanding than those of years past. A hotel’s breakfast experience can be a deciding factor in whether a guest returns to that hotel or not. We try to give our guests an 'In The Know' experience, which means they can sample cuisines from around the globe, and have them prepared live in front of them. Absolutely no stodgy scramblies to be found on our buffet! The concept of a live interactive buffet shows the guest we care about their needs, and want them to start their day with a WOW. The challenge in Dubai is that we have guests from every conceivable culture, so our kitchens really need to keep a close eye on our in-house guests and their tastes and preferences, to ensure our buffet features items they would find appealing.”

Unfortunately we were much too busy enjoying the InterCont’s breakfast last time we stayed to remember to take a photo! Pictured? The deliciously fresh fruit served for breakfast at Villa Rosmarino, Camogli, Italy.


Michael Esposito said...

Thanks for sharing this information. Are we paying for the sins of past travelers who insisted on imported thawed bagels instead of the locally grown fare, or was it an assumption of what people wanted?

The example in Dubai is one worth emulating. I hope that more hotels will follow their lead.

Anonymous said...

Well this was in today's NY Times:

This story about bagels in Beijing makes my blood boil. If these people can't try local breakfasts for a couple of weeks, they should seriously get a job where they don't have to travel.