The current devastating drought affecting the Western United States has impacted lives in so many ways. Referred to as “the worst in California’s recorded history,” the drought has affected foodservice in all industries, and hospitality is no exception. Operators are looking for clever ways to reduce water consumption from all angles of their operation–whether it’s by serving water at the table upon request only, or politely giving guests the option to re-use their bath towels, or changing bed linens only every other day. In back-of-house, operators are also switching to water-efficient dishwashers and equipment such as the Cambro’s Camrack system to eliminate re-washing of glass racks altogether. Taking this one step further, one of the leading chains in the environmental sustainability movement for hotels, Marriott, is cleverly re-thinking their room service operation as well, switching from traditional room service to a Meal To Go model.
On a recent visit to the Irvine Marriott, Cambro caught up with Executive Chef Adrian Hernandez. He explained that in tune with Marriott’s environmental mission of reducing energy and water consumption 20% by 2020, they have started to implement tray-less room service. “Before, we used to deliver meals to the guest’s room. After they finish, they would leave it outside in the hallway for staff to pick-up and wash. Now, with our new Fresh Bites menu, we are switching to meals delivered in a bag to-go style instead. With this new room service model, we not only are able to speed up delivery time but it now eliminates washing of any plates, bowls and flatware entirely,” shares Chef Adrian. “We’ve sourced for all of these 100% recyclable containers, whether it’s for burgers, soup, sauces or entrees. Even if someone orders wine with their dinner, we have these nice reusable carafes and glasses that the guest can take with them. They love it! ”
The Fresh Bites menu features “Handcrafted, Hand-delivered” snacks, soups and salads, entrees and desserts along with a host of beer, wine, water and retro bottled sodas. Chef Adrian explains that the new regional menu was carefully designed to feature local produce and high quality, all natural meats and cage-free eggs and dairy from local farms, keeping the carbon footprint of these items at a minimum. When the guest places an order, the dish is freshly prepared by one of the hotel’s chefs and packaged to go by a staff member. The packaging area resembles more of a gift wrapping counter at a department store, with its white bags and colorful tissue paper, rather than a kitchen prep area. Wall placards clearly displaying pictures of final dishes along with matching packaging elements adorn the adjacent wall. The Quinoa Bowl with Harris Ranch Skirt steak, charred peppers and mushrooms masterfully prepared by the chef was plated into a black recyclable container with a translucent lid and passed along to a staff member waiting nearby. She quickly packaged the container into a white bag, added pre-wrapped utensils and artfully stuffed sheets of colored tissue to prepare it for a food runner to take up to the room. Normally with the older style room service, it would have taken roughly 45 minutes to prepare, set up the tray and deliver the food because the staff had to wait for a separate service elevator. Now with the Meal To Go model, packing the food is faster and the beautiful bag enables the food runner to join guests in the guest elevator for speedier service rather than waiting for service elevator. The hallways look and smell a lot fresher as well with no unsightly trays of uneaten food, and the best part is… there are no plates to be washed. Room service from start to finish can be completed in about 18 minutes, speeding up service by about 60% while conserving considerable water. The new model helps the environment, reduces expenses and creates happier guests—an overall win for everyone.
Marriott’s new room service initiative will be fully implemented across all properties in North America by the end of 2016. It is currently being rolled out to 20 properties but is already in full operation at the Irvine Marriott, Marriott San Diego Marina, and Marriott Washington DC. It is definitely a step in the right direction towards global sustainability that hoteliers around the globe should consider.
What are some of the initiatives that your property or foodservice operation is doing to help with the water crises? Email us at email@example.com. We’d love to be able to share your ideas with our readers!