Burstein, Laurie

Sliced tenderloin with pasta salad, fresh fruit and a linzertorte is probably not the typical lunch being served in coach class these days. But thanks to several area hotels, guests who are catching a flight can enjoy fresh and tasty food in the air by ordering meals to go during their hotel stays. As airlines have scaled back on food service, The Adam’s Mark Hotel, The Westin, The Renaissance St. Louis HotelAirport, and the Marriott Hotel-St. Louis Airport, have stepped in to offer takeout food for hungry airline passengers.

The 910-room Adam’s Mark St. Louis hotel offers a program to provide boxed meals to go for the convenience of guests upon checkout, and has seen an increase in the number of travelers requesting this service. It is available to any guest staying at the hotel for a meeting or convention, as well as to business and leisure travelers.

Meeting and convention groups often request this service for their participants. Upon the conclusion of the final meeting, the box lunches are stationed outside the meeting room so attendees can simply pick them up on their way out. This can be pre-ordered weeks before the group’s arrival or after they check in.

“Meeting planners appreciate the convenience of take-out meals because they know many of their attendees are anxious to get to the airport, and do not want to take the time for a sit-down meal at the conclusion of their meeting,” says Joe Graf, director of Catering and Conference Services for the Adam’s Mark. The Adam’s Mark provides this service for meeting groups of all sizes with one of the largest being box lunches to go for 1,000 attendees.

“We have a number of different catering menus, but we’ll also customize meals based on the preference of the group. In addition, any item on our hotel restaurant menus can be made to go in a matter of minutes for group or individual travelers,” Graf says.

Box lunches can range from casual fare such as deli sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookie to more elaborate cuisine including the sliced tenderloin described above. Vegetarian meals to go are also available.

Gary Tarpinian, director of Sales & Marketing at The Westin in downtown St. Louis, says he has also seen an increase in the number of requests for take-out meals from hotel guests.

“There is a real need for providing airline passengers with good take-out food. We are seeing more and more demand, and it’s a great niche for the hotel industry to fill,” Tarpinian says.

Through The Westin’s Service Express program, guests can request a cooked-toorder pizza that is ready in 15-20 minutes. Other popular take-out items are chicken wraps and the seafood cobb salad.

Tarpinian says the hotel’s 24-hour room service is popular for those who have gotten off a late night flight where there was limited food service.

Two St. Louis airport hotels have also recently begun offering grab and go meals.

The Gourmet Get Away Program was introduced at The Renaissance St. Louis Hotel and The Marriott Hotel and is designed for airline travelers who want quick and good tasting meals to eat on board a flight.

“Our guests want convenient take-out meals that can fit into a briefcase,” says Doug Dean, marketing director of both the Renaissance and Marriott hotels at the airport.

Dean adds, “Our menu is geared to airline travelers who need practical food that is conveniently packaged and not too messy to eat on a flight. At the same time, meals must be tasty and healthful. Our signature item is a grilled chicken club sandwich, with a variety of other lunch and breakfast options.” Dean adds that most of the items are in the six-to-nine dollar range to keep meals at a reasonable price.

Hotel guests are given a brochure about the program upon check in. Take-out meals are pre-ordered and then picked up in the nearby lobby restaurant during check out.

With all the cutbacks in the airline industry, passengers now have the option of having tasty food in the air catered by some of the top hotels in town.

Copyright St. Louis Region Commerce and Growth Association Apr 01, 2003

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