With few passengers, several airlines have pivoted to offer airplane food at home either through pickup or delivery. In some cases it’s just selling off excess frozen meals that they planned to use in the coming months. In others it’s taking catering kitchens and continuing to crank out their product, just for a different dining room.
In the U.S. airlines have continued to fly while cutting down on meal service, saying it has something to do with Covid-19 safety protocols, one of those protocols apparently is cost-cutting. Hotels are doing the same thing, and where their restaurants are open their service is generally stripped down and so is hotel complimentary breakfast.
In India though hotels have pivoted to deliver meals and are making commitments about the quality and lavishness of what you’ll receive. India has one of the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks. In the U.S. we do food delivery and contactless pickup from great restaurants. In India the great restaurants are actually in hotels.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a better meal in India than at the Taj Palace Mumbai’s Souk restaurant, fantastic Lebanese food, actually on an anniversary of the attack on the hotel property (which was an amazing story unto itself). And I’ve eaten at plenty of local restaurants in Mumbai.
If you’re going to get the best meals in India it’s often from a hotel, though of course there’s plenty of food delivery around the world that isn’t top notch too.
In the U.S. you expect most hotel restaurants to be mediocre, focused on dumbed down cuisine meant not to offend anyone. (Kimpton restaurants are an exception, historically focused more on the local market than pleasing hotel guests from wherever they happen to hail.)
Another interesting phenomenon is how good the Chinese restaurants are inside of hotels in India. Despite historic (and current!) conflicts between India and China, much of the country’s business travel comes from China. Business travelers one expense accounts can fund and also demand higher quality meals and make it possible to access the best ingredients. Western hotel chains also enforce cleanliness standards while you have a hard time knowing in advance as an outsider which local restaurants do the same.
China House at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai for instance is truly excellent. So it shouldn’t be taken as any sort of surprise – or with any sense of irony – that Marriott brands in India have pivoted to offer “Marriott On Wheels.” A promotional piece offers,
Now, more than ever, it is the dishes you relished at your favourite restaurants that you want to return to, even as you return to work and to celebrating the small joys of life with loved ones. The culinary delights of the pizzas and the pastas and the piquant comfort of the dals and curries you once savoured and now crave, however, are no longer just fond thoughts of the past. Several hotels under the flagship Marriott International have commenced bringing a selection of their choicest dishes to the comfort of your home.
Christened “Marriott on Wheels”, the service is available across 63 of their hotels in various cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi, Hyderabad, Pune, Vizag, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Raipur and Bilaspur. Interestingly, each hotel has curated a compact menu of their signature dishes, which include guest favourites like Biryani, Pizza, Pasta or viennoiseries from award winning restaurants. The very same Penne Arrabbiata or a Murgh Biryani you relished at The Ritz- Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott or the Westin can now be savoured from the comfort of your home, served up with the same taste and warmth that you remember so well.
You can also get ‘street-style’ food in bento boxes from your local Fairfield for corporate events! In the U.S. this would be my last choice, but in India this actually seems pretty appealing.