Hotel Online Special Report


 Sheraton Survey Indicates Hotels Have Plenty of Room 
for Improvement When It Comes to Dining; 
A Good Burger Beats Foie Gras

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Dec. 7, 2000 - When it comes to hotel dining, most Americans say forget finger bowls and fancy fare, opting instead for simple lunch and dinner favorites like burgers, club sandwiches, salads and steaks and hearty breakfast fare such as Belgian waffles, French toast and eggs any style. In fact, 61% of Americans surveyed by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts said they would choose a burger over foie gras (9%) any day.  And for some, a burger beats a different kind of decadence—when asked what they desire in a hotel room late at night, a few folks (4%) say they’d even take a burger and fries over sex!

Guideline Consulting Corporation, a New York-based research company, interviewed over 1,000 Americans for Sheraton to gauge travelers’ attitudes toward hotel dining. Sheraton conducted the survey as part of the development of its new Sheraton Cuisine Essentials program, which features a revamp of the 30 most popular menu items ordered throughout the brand’s North American hotels, which collectively serve almost 10 million meals annually. Developed by Sheraton’s corporate chef, Richard Faeh, the philosophy behind Sheraton Cuisine Essentials is to do the basics best.

Hotel Dining Not Always Tasty

A new and improved menu may just hit the spot. According to Sheraton’s survey, hotels have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to dining.  While one in five Americans say that hotel dining is “on par with a nice restaurant,” 37% say its “just OK,” 16% say it’s “a half step above fast food,” and 3% say its even “as bad as airline food.”

“Our research clearly shows that hotels can do better when it comes to dining options, and that was our intent when we developed our new Sheraton Cuisine Essentials menu,” said Randy Kwasniewski, Sheraton’s executive vice president of operations. “Not only are we serving our guests what they actually want to eat on the road, but we’re confident that we’re offering outstanding versions of each popular dish.”

No Need for a Recount: Club Sandwiches and Burgers Top Favorite Hotel Food List

“Whether at the Sheraton in San Diego, St. Louis or Seattle, the most popular menu item is a club sandwich, followed, in order, by a burger, chicken sandwich, chicken Caesar and a Cobb Salad,” said Philip Kendall, vice president of food and beverage for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Sheraton’s parent. “So we said to ourselves, if that’s what our guests want, let’s use our resources to develop the very best club sandwich, the very best burger, and so on.”

Chef Faeh, a Swiss-trained chef, spent the last six months creating the new Sheraton Cuisine Essentials core menu of hotel favorites that also includes a seared ribeye steak, an oriental noodle salad and a grilled portobello wrap. Chef Faeh conducted hundreds of taste tests in search of the perfect penne pasta Alfredo, a world-class chicken potpie, and, of course, the hotel industry’s very best turkey club.  All 30 Sheraton Cuisine Essential items will be featured in 100 participating Sheraton hotels in the U.S. and Canada.  In addition to a core menu of popular items, each individual hotel chef can add regional favorites such as a Crabcake Sandwich in Stamford, Connecticut; BBQ Ribs in Kansas City; and Drumfish Meunier in Baton Rouge.

Do You Deliver?

Sheraton Cuisine Essentials is also available via room service in all participating Sheraton hotels. Room service, according to most Americans, continues to carry some cache. In fact, 65% say they consider room service as “a treat” vs. “a necessary evil” (15%).  And, over half of all Americans (54%) say room service is a romantic thing to do when traveling with a spouse or significant other. In case you’re wondering, 39% of Americans eat room service at a table, but as we suspected, a sizable share say they nosh in bed (28%).  Two percent choose the floor as their dining venue, and 1% said they usually eat room service in the, uh, bathroom.  While they’re eating room service meals, 63% of Americans watch TV, 26% talk on the phone, 22% read and 17% do work—lets hope this is limited to the folks that dine in their room and not in their bathroom.

Variety is the Spice of Life

While conventional wisdom says that a smaller menu means a superior menu, that is not the case when it comes to hotel dining.  Americans are divided as to what they want from hotel food, with needs ranging from convenience to indulgence:

  • 17% are looking for “sheer convenience”
  • 21% want “meals that allow you to stay on your diet”
  • 16% want “comfort food such as pastas or chicken potpie”
  • 16% want “a splurge such as lobster of chateaubriand”
  • 15% want “a guilty pleasure such as a cheeseburger, Philly cheesesteak or nachos”
“Upscale hotel dining really does need to offer something for everyone, and the Sheraton Cuisine Essentials menu, which was created by popular demand, reflects that,” said Jane Mackie, Sheraton’s vice president of marketing.  “Whether a guest wants a great steak or a super plate of pasta, or wishes to sample local fare, or maintain a diet, or be a little naughty and have nachos and chicken wings for dinner, Sheraton Cuisine Essentials can meet their needs.”

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?

More than a third (35%) of Americans say they eat more for breakfast in hotels than at home.  A quarter of Americans also eat bigger dinners on the road, while they tend to lighten up on lunch, with a quarter saying they eat less for lunch when they travel vs. at home.

The Sheraton survey is based on 1,008 telephone interviews conducted on a national omnibus survey during the period of November 9-12, 2000.  The survey was conducted among a nationwide cross-section of adult American men and women ages 18 or older living in the continental United States (504 men; 504 women).  The survey respondents were drawn from a nationally projectable RDD (random digit dialing) telephone sample.  The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points on the total.

Sheraton Hotels and Resorts has more than 375 hotels in 67 countries and is the largest brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Also See FoodSense Offers its Restaurant Predictions: Six Trends You’ll See in Restaurants Over the Next Year / Nov 2000 

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