While we haven’t been traveling much this year, I’ve been keeping up on reviews from those who have ventured out before us. Even if some chains, like Marriott, are no longer updating reviews on their hotel websites, it’s easy enough to find reviews that are willing to say how good, or bad, individual properties are about following the new COVID-19 protocols.
One thing that almost universally disappeared from hotels was the breakfast buffet. The free breakfast had become a staple of the mid-range hotel. No matter if you were staying at a LaQuinta, Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn or Fairfield by Marriott, you previously were offered a buffet consisting of some eggs, breakfast meats, multiple types of starchy products, possibly some fruit and yogurt and, of course, coffee.
Once coronavirus arrived, people no longer wanted to eat from chafing dishes when you didn’t know who prepared them and who touched them before you got there. Most hotels eliminated them completely, eventually replacing the offering with a grab & go bag of items.
Here’s Marriott’s take on the topic from its COVID-19 information website.
At Marriott, food handlers and supervisors are trained on safe food preparation and service practices. The company’s food and beverage operations are required to conduct self-inspection using its food safety standards as guidelines, and compliance is validated by independent audits. Marriott is also enhancing sanitation guidelines and training videos for associates that include hygiene and disinfecting practices. In addition, the company is modifying its operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets.
We just finished a trip where we visited multiple locations and stayed at chain hotels for the first time since February. Our first night was at a Fairfield by Marriott property just off of I-95 in Georgia. When we arrived at the hotel, there were two employees in the lobby, both wearing their masks. The desk agent asked our name, gave us our room keys and told us that the breakfast buffet was open from 7am to 10am. Guests needed to bring their own face masks but gloves would be provided by the hotel and usage of same was mandatory.
We woke up the next morning and I took a quick walk to the lobby to see what the offerings were. If it was just a bag of starchy goods, we’d pass. To my surprise, the hotel spread was like coronavirus never happened, except the boxes of disposable gloves on the counter and signs saying “ALL guests must wear masks and gloves at the buffet.”
This was even one of those fancy buffets with a “Make your own waffles” machine!
They also had coffee/tea/hot chocolate and milk and yogurt in the fridge along with a juice machine.
Based on the number of cars in the parking lot, the hotel was not very busy the night we stayed. When we went to breakfast at 9:30am, the only person there was the employee who kept the area stocked and tidy. She did remind us to take a pair of gloves and to keep wearing our masks until seated and ready to eat.
While they had large and medium gloves, they were both humorously large for Sharon (Note from Sharon: I’m 4’6″ tall), as they would be for any younger child going to the buffet.
While there were plenty of tables inside, appropriately spaced out with seats on the long benches closed for spacing, we decided to head to one of the outside tables. Despite being early November, the weather that morning was quite pleasant.
The view was tranquil, considering this was a roadside hotel.
While this was not the experience we had at the other hotels we visited, it was unexpected to see a full spread at a Fairfield Inn. I’m guessing that a hotel in Georgia can offer much more than a hotel in California because of the differing state restrictions. However, with an empty-ish hotel, mask and glove requirements and outdoor seating, we were willing to eat the eggs, bacon and potatoes from the buffet before we hit the road. Baby steps.
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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary