Travel is tough on the body, and one of the biggest contributors to feeling crummy on the road is unhealthy food. It's usually really difficult to find fresh options in an area you don't know well, and in some parts of the U.S., recently picked, tasty produce is practically impossible to find at all. (The Midwest might be the nation's breadbasket, but the region's penchant for overcooking veggies into mush drives me insane.)
As a health-food lover and travel-bug, even I get stymied by where to find smart options — and until recently, hotel food has been a big part of the problem. Many a time I've been absolutely starving and have opened the room service menu, only to close it again when I can't find a thing to satiate both my hunger and my need for good nutrition. I'm willing to spend $20 for the convenience of a sandwich delivered to my room, but not one that's made with frozen, sub-par or processed ingredients. If it's too late or I'm too tired to go out, I often just go to bed hungry.
Turns out, I'm not the only traveler who is frustrated with the options at many hotels — apparently hotels guests (besides me!) have been complaining about the quality of hotel food. With a nationwide focus on healthier foods, and local and regional foods becoming an important part of the travel experience, hotels are revamping kitchens, menus and offerings.
Hyatt, Marriott and Westin hotels, all mid-priced brands, are working on improving their offerings and healthying up menu basics, like burgers, that will make the transition. (Junk food lovers, don't freak out, there will still be less-healthy choices too.) The quality of meats will be altered so that the size of a meal is smaller, but it is made from better ingredients, for example.
"Once rolled out, customers at full-service Hyatt hotels will see more upscale-looking menus that describe organic vegetables, seafood, meat and dairy produced without chemicals. Portions will be smaller, trimming calorie counts," Susan Santiago, Hyatt's vice president of food and beverage told USA Today.
At higher-end accommodations — like the Fairmont chain and the St. Regis collection of hotels — organic, biodynamic, seasonal and local foods, as well as regional dishes are part of the in-room dining options, (not just in the signature restaurants). Fairmont has even expanded this to their kids' menu offerings.
I am grateful; it is always easier to eat healthfully and mindfully if the option to do so is easy.
Of course, the rest is up to you; next time you are exhausted and cranky after a long flight and you end up at your hotel ravenous, take a minute to breathe deeply, drink a big glass of water, and think about what the best option on the room service menu really is for your tired, stressed-out body. (Trust me, it's not the fries; it's probably something green and leafy!)