Richard Kerr writes about hotels getting cheap with elite breakfast benefits. He cites,
- Upcharges for access to full breakfast
- Poorly provisioned club lounges
- The odd hotel that doesn’t honor the benefit, or is allowed not to
Marriott Boca Raton
However none of these things is really new except that it’s become much more prevalent with Marriott especially since Marriott resorts now have to provide breakfast.
Up until 2013 Marriott’s breakfast benefit didn’t apply on the weekends. And even with last year’s new program launch,
- Resorts (outside of Westin, Sheraton and Le Meridien) don’t have to provide club lounge access
- Courtyard, AC Hotels by Marriott, and Moxy hotels can just provide vouchers
- Ritz-Carltons, Editions, Design Hotels, Gaylord Hotels, Marriott Vacation Club, and Marriott Executive Apartments don’t have to feed you at all. (Neither does Bulgari, they don’t participate in Marriott Rewards.)
If it seems like chintzy breakfast is more common than it used to be, it’s a function of elites used to breakfast at other brands – or Starwood elites – staying at Marriott properties that didn’t always provide breakfast, or that are figuring out how to limit their cost in the new program (even though Bonvoy is less expensive to hotels than Marriott Rewards was).
A decade ago I was upcharged $10 for the full buffet at the Barbados HIlton. Nothing wrong with that, they were complying with the terms of the program.
Seven years ago I was given the ‘Honors Breakfast’ at the Conrad New York. The terms of the program require continental breakfast and that’s what they provided – I would have preferred a credit I could have used towards something else, but I didn’t really have basis for complaint.
If you want a full breakfast – and not merely a continental offering – stay at full service properties in the only chain that actually defines what breakfast is in their program terms and that’s Hyatt. Though Hyatt isn’t as generous as they used to be here, they are quite clear:
When staying at a participating hotel or resort that does not have a Club lounge (or if Club lounge is closed), Globalists will receive daily complimentary full breakfast (which includes one entrée or standard breakfast buffet, juice, and coffee, as well as tax, gratuity and service charges) for each registered guest in the room, up to a maximum of two (2) adults and two (2) children.
We can highlight hotels that push the envelope of chintziness, but then we should:
- Recognize why some programs are tight-fisted
- Honor those that are generous
The Andaz 5th Avenue used to offer unlimited complimentary room service and there wasn’t even a check to sign. Some Diamond members took to ordering everything on the menu, and that’s why we can’t have nice things. Meanwhile costs to provide breakfast at big city union hotels is quite high. Room service is an option because that hotel’s restaurant is small and top tier elites would overwhelm them.
Meanwhile breakfast was cut back markedly over the years at the Andaz Wall Street. What was once a celebratory affair became worth a miss.
I’ve had some amazing complimentary breakfasts. At the St. Regis in Bali I had lobster, sushi, and foie gras. At the Park Hyatt Vendome over a 100 euro credit for room service each morning. At the Park Hyatt Maldives there’s a buffet and order off the menu.
If you care about a robust breakfast benefit, club lounges at Westins, Sheratons, Marriott and Hyatt Regencys more often than not may disappoint. Higher-end club lounges will be more to your liking.
I’ll skip breakfast when I’m traveling for work. I prefer a club lounge, and especially something I can bring back to my room or just a space where I can eat and work. I also don’t much value restaurant breakfast unless it’s actually good.
On a weekend or vacation trip with my wife, taking time for a long leisurely breakfast can actually be a special experience. Breakfast matters in different degrees, and at different times, depending on the type of hotel and the type of stay.
However if breakfast matters to you remember that IHG doesn’t promise it; Hilton offers just a continental breakfast but doesn’t exclude brands; Marriott’s breakfast benefit is improved but understanding it is like something out of a Fellini film; while Hyatt’s offerings are both more robust and more clear.