The New York Hilton Midtown, a 2,000-room hotel located in the heart of Times Square, just announced that it will end room service. Instead, it plans to implement a grab-n-go store called Herb n’ Kitchen, according to the New York Times.
Grab-n-go? What's the point of staying in a luxury hotel if you're not going to be able to order breakfast in bed? Yes, you know you're paying an exorbitant $23 for scrambled eggs, but you don't care because you're there to pamper yourself.
A hotel shouldn't call itself a "luxury hotel" if guests can't order room service and are forced to eat from a Herb n' Kitchen. (Although the New York Hilton Midtown doesn't label itself a "luxury hotel," with rates of over $220 per night, it isn't exactly a budget hotel either.)
This is the second Hilton hotel to eliminate room service—the Hilton Hawaiian Village eliminated room service back in October, and it seems to point to a growing trend of luxury hotels cutting services.
"We’ve already seen new hotels skipping room service in favor of more express options," Anne Banas, the Executive Editor at Smarter Travel, said.
Several high-end hotels have already cut or scaled back room service: the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan cut back its 24-hour room service a few years ago (room service now shuts down at 11pm) and Public, a Chicago hotel by Ian Schrager, delivers food to guests in brown paper bags that are left outside hotel rooms, according to Crain's.
It's easy to understand why hotels would want to cut room service. The New York Hilton Midtown's move will cut 55 jobs and probably save the Hilton thousands of dollars, according to Crain's.
John Fox, senior vice president of PKF Consulting, told Crains that room service is a big money loser for hotels.
"I don't think anyone makes a profit on room service because of its labor costs," Fox said, adding, "I'm sure all the big hotels will be looking at what Hilton is doing."
Cutting room service is only another example of luxury hotels cutting costs under the guise of accommodating clients. Take, for example, hotels asking guests to re-use their towels to save water. Yes I want to save the environment, but when I'm paying hundreds of dollars for a luxury hotel room, I also want to wrap myself in a clean, plush towel after I get out of the shower—and not feel guilty about it.
Clients who dole out the money to stay in a luxury hotel want to be pampered. They want to be able to order room service and not have to leave their room to pick up food.
The bottom line is that a luxury hotel should make sure that it offers luxury services. Getting the definition right here is important.
Here's a message to hotels that are cutting room service: Suck it up and pay the labor costs for room service, or don't call yourself a "luxury hotel."
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