Regarded as the most important meal in a hotel, breakfast has gained a new health-oriented dynamic.
At the Quinta da Serra Hotel it is possible to have breakfast featuring only organic products on the menu. Sustainability and the protection of the planet are part of the mantras of the hotel located in Jardim da Serra and this can be seen at the table.
Most of the fruit available, such as strawberries, blackberries, and apples, for example, are produced in the hotel. In the morning, there's even an organic honeycomb, which guests can use and feel the texture of the beeswax. There are also around 30 varieties of organic dried fruit.
For the first meal of the day, Raúl Gonçalves, director of the Quinta da Serra hotel, says that guests look for authenticity and the opportunity to taste local products. However, there are two perspectives that sit at the table: those who seek a more international breakfast, such as the typical full English breakfast, which is also offered by the hotel, and those who choose a more balanced and healthy meal. The challenge, he confesses, lies in striking a balance in this offer.
At the Savoy hotels, there is also a concern to absorb a little of both narratives. Carlos Gonçalves, executive chef at Savoy Palace, explains how two generations look at breakfast differently. "On one side we have the baby boomers, who still look for bacon and eggs. On the other side are the generations that are between 20 and 40, who are looking for a more balanced breakfast."
Carlos Gonçalves confesses that he felt the demand for healthier options in hotels about nine years ago. "Apart from a concern for what is local, we began to feel the demand for a balanced meal" and this changed the way hotels looked at breakfast.
Today, at Savoy Palace, it is possible to find options also suitable for diets now more in vogue, such as vegetarian and vegan. Chia pudding, quinoa pancakes, open toast with avocado or humus and natural juices are some of the options guaranteed to guests.
And in the view of nutrition experts, the evolution on the part of the breakfast offer in hotels is seen with good eyes, with the inclusion of more alternatives to the famous 'bacon & eggs'.
Helena Caires, nutritionist, holds that thanks to the efforts that have been made by hotels, it is possible to have a healthy meal for breakfast.
Oat flakes, seeds - such as chia, linseed, and sunflower seeds -, fresh fruit and oleaginous fruits, low-fat dairy products and vegetable-based drinks are some of the options that cannot be left off the table, according to the nutritionist.
Helena Caires also points to the importance of hotel units being prepared with choices geared towards food restrictions, such as intolerances and allergies, 'providing alternative options to the most commonly eaten foods, such as gluten-free breads and lactose-free dairy products and/or drinks and yoghurts of vegetable origin'.
At Belmond Reid's Palace, the concern for guests' dietary restrictions is clear in the options available at breakfast.
Luís Pestana, executive chef at Belmond Reid's Palace, says that the hotel's orientation towards a healthier concept has been increasing year after year and shows some examples where it has innovated.
At the cold buffet, there are soy, lactose-free and low-fat yogurts, tofu, seitan, tempeh, and sea lettuce (wakame) salad with sesame. Coming straight from the kitchen there are the vegetarian crepes with herbs, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce, which can be adapted for vegans, and also the porridge with seitan, tempeh and banana, which can be gluten-free and lactose-free.
At the Meliã Madeira Mare hotel, the concern with offering options that meet guests' dietary restrictions has also increased. João Sanches, general director of the hotel, reveals that they are currently working 'with a supplier in order to improve the offer of gluten-free and lactose-free cakes to make available daily' to those who eat at the hotel's breakfast table.
Generally speaking, everyone agrees that it is necessary to balance the menu, in order to satisfy all clients. When the time comes for holidays, some dream about places to visit, but also about gastronomic experiences. Venturing out of the hotel for lunch and dinner seems to be the norm. However, breakfast remains in guests' minds and is a factor when choosing the hotel to stay in. For many, options beyond 'bacon & eggs' continue to be a positive value.