Perhaps the most generous elite offering was the Park Hyatt Aviara which wound up comping their Mother’s Day $95 per person buffet.
Here are the very best breakfasts I’ve been provided for free as a result of elite status — the hotels that are the most generous, how they do it, and the lessons we can draw.
The Importance of Breakfast
I think the first hotel breakfast I really fell in love with was at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai.
Then-General Manager Anne Scott told me that the first thing she did in pre-opening, on taking the position at the hotel, was to sit down with the chef and plot out breakfast. Her guests didn’t take the time for a leisurely breakfast at home and making theirs special would make the hotel memorable.
Here’s honey from a honeycomb at their buffet:
I loved sitting out on the restaurant’s porch, drinking my coffee, while tasters not on the buffet were regularly brought around to tables. It was peaceful, although it didn’t hurt that there were about a dozen guests on property while I was there.
The Most Blow-You-Away Breakfast Offering
The most over-the-top hotel breakfast must belong to the St. Regis Bali, where it’s included for all guests.
There’s a caviar service that you can order, and of course you can order it as many times as you wish.
You can have seared foie gras with your eggs.
And they offer lobster two ways:
Not to mention sashimi:
.. as well as oysters and wagyu beef tenderloin.
How a Good Hotel is Ruined By a Bad Breakfast
A hotel that really blew it at breakfast was the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman — their staff was turning my table while I was up at the buffet, and seating other guests as I returned.
Room Service is the Ultimate Indulgence
No discussion of hotel breakfast is possible without mentioning the Andaz 5th Avenue, which offers room service breakfast to Diamonds (if they didn’t they couldn’t serve everyone, let alone New Yorkers making a destination of the restaurant — too small) and offers high quality options. And the best pancakes in the world. Lemon poppyseed.
The Park Hyatt Chennai’s room service breakfast option was impressive — awesome Indian and Western options.
But it’s hard to beat breakfast — purely for food, and for Western tastes — at the Park Hyatt Vendone in Paris. Diamonds get the full breakfast buffet or a 49 euro per guest room service credit.
A Good Restaurant Breakfast Trumps a Club Lounge Any Day
While perhaps room service as a breakfast benefit is the most indulgent, I definitely prefer hotels which offer restaurant breakfast rather than club lounge breakfast — at least where the hotel’s restaurant is a destination unto itself (rather than a functional place to feed guests only).
A great example of this is Seattle’s Hyatt Olive 8 which boasts both a pleasing space and good food.
If there was one single restaurant dish for breakfast? The Saigon baguette at the Park Hyatt Saigon.
Maybe the most extensive buffet I’ve been offered complimentary was at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur where Diamonds can take breakfast in the lounge (quite well done, an improvement from when the hotel first opened) or in the restaurant. Malaysian buffets are impressive, and at an upscale hotel doubly so.
But There’s a Right Way to Do a Club Lounge, Too!
Not all club lounge spreads are mediocre, of course! I’d take the spread at the Conrad Hong Kong over most restaurants!
I think my favorite club lounge overall, once you add in service and views, belongs to the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.
Sadly most club lounges remind me of the spartan offerings and overcrowding of which the Hyatt Regency Maui is just an extreme example. Dodging and weaving people all ready to feed at the trough of free food, no matter the quality.
The Ultimate Luxury is Choice
When I stayed at the Andaz Maui recently I was told at check-in that my Diamond breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant — a $44++ per person buffet — was customizable. Just ask for anything you want and they will make it for you.
I wondered, how does that really work? The restaurant does get busy at times. The servers really varied in quality. The food there was outstanding, very high quality.
I decided to test ‘customization.’ I mentioned that since I was on Maui I would love some fresh fish. Did I have any particular fish in mind? No, whatever the chef thought was the best that he had that morning would work for me, however he wanted to prepare it. She left to discuss, came back and reassured that this would be taken care of.
And so it was:
Is This Real, or Just Marketing Hype?
Here’s one story of how advertising got Americans to eat more for breakfast (HT: BlogCoven)