How ‘Grab-and-Go’ Markets in Hotels Fill a Need

Full-service hotels like Holiday Inn typically provide a restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, and select-service hotels like Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn provide a complimentary breakfast. Until recently, guests looking for a boost in the middle of the day or night would have to seek food outside the hotel.

Corner Market Place convenience store at the Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

To address this need, the Holiday Inn brand introduced Corner Market Place convenience stores. These “grab-and-go” markets, available 24/7 in the lobby, feature a variety of snacks, beverages and toiletry items. Some even offer more substantial fare, entrees that can be heated up in the microwave. Snacks run the gamut from salty and sweet to healthy and nutritious. Not incidentally, sales provide a modest additional revenue stream.

Corner Market Place convenience store at the Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Taking their cue from the success of the Holiday Inn brand concept, M&R’s Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn on the West Side of Manhattan are both in the process of adding grab-and-go markets. Tracey Rucks, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Midtown West, notes the markets will benefit guests who check in late, after nearby restaurants are closed, and are looking for a quick bite.

On-site convenience stores are one more way our hotels can be proactive in providing what we like to call “hands-on hospitality.”

M&R Hotel Management Joins Clean the World Effort to Recycle Soap

M&R Hotel Management last week announced that its 13 hotels in the United States will participate in Clean the World’s recycling program, which recycles soap and bottled shampoo left behind by guests for distribution to people in need around the world.

Clean the World logo

Clean the World’s mission is to save lives by distributing hygiene products. The organization notes that 2 million children under the age of five die every year due to hygiene-related illnesses. Hand washing with soap is a low-cost intervention that can reduce those deaths by almost 50 percent.

“By partnering with Clean the World, we are reducing soap and shampoo waste while doing our part to help the disadvantaged and save lives,” said Amit Gandhi, M&R Hotel Management president and chief executive officer. “Our hotel team members support this effort and are happy to take the extra steps needed for this program to succeed.”

guest bathroom with amenities at the Best Western JFK Airport

Best Western JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY

Since 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 22 million bars of soap in 96 countries, according to Shawn Seipler, Clean the World co-founder and chief executive officer. The organization has partnered with more than 2,200 hotels and resorts to supply hygiene products to people who do not have ready access to them.

Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport guest bathroom

Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport, Jamaica, New York

“We estimate the North American lodging industry throws away more than a million bars of soap each day,” Seipler said. “By recycling soap and bottled amenities, M&R Hotel Management will make a positive impact from both an environmental and humanitarian perspective.” The recycling process sanitizes the hygiene products prior to distribution.

I’m extremley proud that our company is participating in the very important global initiative. Learn more about the Clean the World recycling program at

The Challenge of Creating a Great Hotel Restaurant

When planning a hotel restaurant, overnight guests are the obvious target market. But really successful hotel restaurants manage to come up with a menu concept, ambiance and buzz that reaches beyond in-house guests to attract members of the local community and even visitors.

The best hotel restaurants reflect their locations, for example in terms of fresh, local ingredients but also in the sense of the restaurant being a “neighborhood favorite,” filled with the energy of people enjoying themselves. That’s why “we want to eat where the locals eat.”

Ideally, the restaurant should have an entrance separate from the hotel’s front door and distinct signage. It also needs curb appeal and its own identity to attract the customer’s attention. Also, an entrance from within the hotel is important for the convenience of hotel guests.

At M&R Hotel Management, all our hotels are branded, carrying the flag of widely known national brands. Belonging to a brand means we must adhere to various standards. Our Holiday Inn hotels, for example, require an on-site restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch service is optional, depending on the demand in the local market. As managers, however, we have considerable leeway as to concept, design and menu.

The restaurant at our Holiday Inn NYC-Lower East Side, for example, features a 1950s-style diner concept with upscale comfort food called Retro Bar & Grill. The restaurant at our soon-to-open Holiday Inn Staten Island will be called Lillies, featuring American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, from fish to steak to pasta.

As hotel managers, we know we’re lucky when we get all aspects of a restaurant operation right the first time. In many instances, we partner with experienced restaurant managers and work to refine the concept, add or delete menu options, perfect the service delivery, tinker with the decor and adjust prices to ensure they’re appropriate to the market.

But when we get it right and the restaurant takes on a life of its own, it’s a rewarding part of being in the hospitality business. And speaking of business, the more successful a hotel restaurant, the more attention it attracts to the hotel it’s part of. And that’s good for business as well.

Travelers and Hotels Both Benefit from a ‘Breakfast of Champions’

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Studies evoking the classic Wheaties cereal slogan, “The Breakfast of Champions,” show that breakfast provides energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration. It also can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Breakfast provides energy for the activities during the morning and helps to prevent that mid-morning slump.

Those all are good reasons for travelers to make time for breakfast, whether they opt for a made-to-order breakfast in the restaurant of a full-service hotel or take advantage of the self-service buffets typically found at select-service hotels, including those operated by M&R Hotel Management. All of our select-service hotels offer complimentary breakfast buffets featuring selected hot items, fruits, cereals, breads and pastries.

From a business point of view, breakfast is an opportunity for hotels to gain an all-important advantage over competitors in the same market. Guests tell us breakfast is a key amenity and part of the value proposition that led them to choose our hotels in the first place. Just check through guest comments on TripAdvisor and you’ll see how many people choose to include their thoughts on some aspect of the breakfast service.

Consider some of the limited-service brands represented in our portfolio: Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn and Comfort Inn. Each has a branded breakfast program: Express Start, Fresh Start and Your Morning Breakfast, respectively. Holiday Inn Express even offers two “signature items:” cinnamon rolls and pancakes. The emphasis is on quality, quantity, ease of serving and range of options. When it comes to choice, brands look to provide a mix of traditional comfort foods – eggs, bagels, muffins – along with low-fat Items, including yogurt, oatmeal and fresh fruit.

Faiza Nadeem, general manager of our Days Inn Jamaica-JFK Airport hotel, notes that M&R always goes above and beyond the brand standard. “We’ve added more hot and healthy items like oatmeal while de-emphasizing muffins and doughnuts,” she said. “We’re getting a positive response from guests.”

Faiza and her fellow GMs are quick to note that their brands’ complimentary breakfasts also score points with guests because they represent a significant value both for business travelers – notably self-employed businesspeople, sales representatives and consultants who don’t have expense accounts – and leisure travelers, especially families traveling with children.

The savings can be substantial, notes Juan Soto, general manager of our Comfort Inn Midtown West in Manhattan. “For a family of four or five to order breakfast at a restaurant in our neighborhood could easily cost upwards of $50,” he said. “That’s a $50 saving” if they take advantage of the Comfort Inn’s breakfast buffet, which features eggs, cereal, breakfast meats, fresh fruit, Danish pastries, juice and waffles.

“Kids love it,” he said. “Where else can they get to try so many things?”