Forget Room Service, Groceries Now Delivered Straight To Your Hotel Room

It used to be that if you wanted to cook while on vacation, you had to stay in an apartment, campground or other special facility that included a kitchen. But now, even traditional hotels are giving travelers the chance to enjoy healthy snacks and home-cooked meals thanks to the rise of grocery delivery services.

USA Today reports that increasing numbers of hotels are arranging food deliveries for guests, including fresh groceries. Some hotels are offering snack kits, including things like Greek yoghurt, chips and salsa, fresh fruit and vegetables. Other hotels will deliver pre-made meals that just need to be zapped for a few minutes in a microwave, and some will bring pizza to your door to satisfy late night cravings. Many of the food packages offered at hotels can be customized for travelers with special dietary needs, such as those who are gluten-free or who suffer from allergies.We told you recently about the death of room service in the hotel industry, and the grocery delivery trend seems to be a way of giving guests the ability to still enjoy food in their rooms. Hotels save money by shedding the expense of running room service and guests no longer have to rely on the stale (and pricy) peanuts in the mini bar.

What do you think? Would you take advantage of this service?

The Death Of Room Service?

I’ve always felt that one of the great luxuries of staying in a hotel has nothing to do with how premium the furnishings are or how fancy the décor is. No, what really makes a hotel indulgent is the fact that I don’t have to do things myself. The bed needs to be made in the morning? Not my problem! Towels need replacing? Good thing fresh ones are just a phone call away. Stomach rumbling in the middle of the night? Why step out of my pajamas when room service can bring me whatever my belly desires?

Well now, one of those luxuries is under threat with the New York Hilton Midtown announcing that it is going to stop offering room service at its 2,000-room establishment.The four-star hotel has been experiencing a drop in the number of people ordering room service – a trend seen across the board. In the past year, room service accounted for just 1.2 percent of total hotel revenue in the United States.

Experts attribute the fall in room service requests to greater competition from restaurants popping up near hotels. They say some hotels have tried to counter this by putting restaurants and cafes in their lobbies to attract guests.

Whether the Hilton’s decision to dump room service will spread across the hotel industry is yet to be seen. However, the decision to kill off room service may come back to bite the hotel according to travel strategy firm Hudson Crossing. Analyst Henry Harteveldt told that the Hilton’s star rating might be downgraded because it would no longer officially be considered a full service hotel. “If room service is a requirement to earn a four star rating from independent organizations like AAA, Hilton’s move may put (that) rating in jeopardy, unless the hotel can obtain an exemption.”

Hotel News We Noted: May 25, 2013

Welcome to the long weekend, “Hotel News We Noted” readers. It’s time for three days of sun, fun and relaxation – or, in our case, a wedding.

But before you jet off (or drive away, as the case may be), we wanted you to have your weekly dose of the best news from in and around the hotel world.

As always, send comments, questions and feedback to our inbox, or leave a note below.

Luxury Hotel Amenity: Gold-Plated iPads for Everyone
Dubai’s Burj Al Arab has just upped the ante on the in-room iPad trend, The Telegraph reports. The hotel, which already is one of the world’s tallest, might also offer the most expensive guest device, a 24-carat gold-plated iPad worth £6,715, upon check-in. The iPads have a special app that acts like a virtual butler. Of course, guests only have use of the technology while they are staying in the hotel.

Money Saver Alert: Room Service Gets Cheaper
According to a new article in Bloomberg Business Week, room service is one hotel amenity that’s actually decreasing in price. Room service is becoming simpler – both in delivery and in the scope of offerings. Hotels like Public in Chicago actually deliver items in a brown paper bag, a streamlined concept that fits with their chic, yet price conscious model.

Hotel Opening: Margaritaville Atlantic City
Parrotheads everywhere will want to head to the Jersey Shore this weekend for the grand opening of the Margaritaville entertainment complex at Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel. The new addition to the property includes a Margaritaville restaurant, LandShark Bar & Grill, a Margaritaville-themed casino, Five O’clock Somewhere bar, a retail store and coffee shop. The coffee shop is a new addition to the Margaritaville brand, and the casino will feature 12 themed tables and more than 150 slot machines. Governor Christie himself was present to cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony yesterday.

Cool Contest: Do The DTour
Think you have what it takes to be a travel writer? Now you can test your writing and producing chops. DoubleTree by Hilton is hosting a contest, dubbed the “DTour,” encouraging fans to share a video describing a nearby landmark, unique culture or not-to-be-missed travel spot in a destination of your choosing. The video and accompanying description will be entered in a contest to win a travel assignment to one of six continents where DoubleTree hotels are located. The winners will take in local culture, the hotels and much more, all while sharing their experience for the brand for trips that will last between two weeks and two months. The final entry date is May 31.

Room Service Gets Wild: The Craziest Dining Offerings Around

When it comes to room service, hotels have stepped it up. From menus sourced from celebrity chef restaurants to hotels that will offer a fine dining feast in your hotel room, you can pretty much have it all, whenever you’d like.

Still, some hotels take the idea of adventure to a new level by offering room service menu items and concepts that go beyond the norm.

Here are a five of our favorites from around the world:

Feral Food in Australia
Feast on outback delights like kangaroo and emu with the Feral Food menu at the Prairie Hotel in the Outback. The boutique hotel offers a wide local selection of meats and produce for guests.

Floating Brunch in Bali
Would you like your eggs and toast delivered on a tray … in the pool? Guests at Bali’s AYANA Resort can enjoy room service served on floating trays in their own private plunge pools. If you’d like to get really wild, ask for a pot of cat-poo-cino to be brewed to your liking. Officially termed Kopi Luwak, the beans of a coffee berry are eaten and digested whole by the Asian Palm Civet. Farmers then collect the defecated beans, wash, dry and roast them for a highly aromatic coffee that is brewed and served tableside in the hotel restaurant.

Get Raw in New York City
It’s hard to shock us when we visit NYC, as you can get just about anything, anywhere, anytime. Still, we’d wager that while sushi restaurants are popular, finding your favorite tempura or nigiri on an in-room dining menu isn’t. Guests at 6 Columbus, a Thompson hotel, can order up their favorite dishes from the hotel’s popular Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurant straight to their hotel room.

Whatever You Want In Mexico
At most luxury hotels, you can have “whatever you want, whenever you want it” if you simply call the concierge. But Imanta Resort in Punta Mita actually takes that concept literally on its in-room dining menu, or lack thereof. Just dial “0” and ask for in-room dining. The chef will personally call and arrange a menu just for you.

It’s Okay to Be Cheesy in Boston
The boutique Hotel Commonwealth offers up a number of local dishes on its menu, but it also offers the first traveling cheese cart we’ve heard of. Ask for cheese selections off the in-room dining menu and you’ll get an entire cheese cart delivered to your room so that you can choose your favorites.

LivingSocial launches “room service” in the Washington, DC market

This week, deal megalith LivingSocial announced their newest food service offering, dubbed “room service” in its hometown market of Washington, DC.

It marks the first time LivingSocial has offered a non discounted product to users, but also greatly expands their market. How does this fit into travel, you ask? It’s simple – restaurants in LivingSocial areas are now offering delivery, which makes “ordering in” to your hotel room easier than ever – and eliminates those ridiculous room service taxes and charges. The options are limited so far, as the service is very much in beta, but we can see this being an easy option for restaurants that are already offering delivery and a popular service among LivingSocial’s consumer base. Of course, restaurants that want to apply a “deal” to their delivery certainly can, and so we’ll likely see great discounts in the future.

Even more interesting is their new “Room Service” option, which pairs LivingSocial with fine dining restaurants to offer a true gourmet service in the privacy of your apartment, home or living room.

According to Living Social: “Along with an elegantly plated meal on ceramic dishware, we’ll provide you with everything you need, from a cloth napkin to candles. As for those dirty dishes? We’ll take care of those, too. Just place them in a LivingSocial Room Service container, leave them outside your door the next day, and we’ll pick them up.”

Sounds simple enough to us. The restaurants partnering with the site in its beta test will offer pre-set menus and will likely be around the cost of a menu for two plus tip. Delivery, the fine print says, is only available on Thursday or Friday nights and within a two-mile radius of the restaurant.

If the first restaurant to pilot the program in DC, Kushi, is any indication, the restaurants will be of a rather high quality – this is by far one of our favorite sushi spots in the city. The menu offerings look more like a high-end tasting menu than a standard dinner, and the price, $66 per person with tax, tip and delivery, sounds quite reasonable for the amount of food and quality offered. We only wish they delivered wine and cocktails too!

It’s too early to tell what implications, if any, this will have on actual room service at hotels, but we can surely say that we’ll be testing the offering at our home in Arlington, Virginia (just outside the DC line) sometime very, very soon