Using Comfort Food to Sell An Experience

October 21, 2011   31 Comments

Guess where I took this picture? In front of a bakery, perhaps? Nope.

Comfort Food Sells

I took this photo at a DoubleTree Hotel which is owned by Hilton Worldwide. Yes, you can get on this "cookie shuttle" and ride around looking delicious.

My family stayed at this hotel for one night, and when we checked in they offered us (you guessed it!) a WARM chocolate chip cookie. Ahem... do I look like I need a cookie?

They have a special drawer where they keep them warm and hand them to guests as they arrive as a welcome. And, I was offered a cookie on a recent trip when I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express but theirs was cold.

When I expressed my shock at the "cookie pushers", my husband said, "What's your problem? Cookies are warm, yummy, and comforting."

My reply, "Would you like it if they put a pack of cigarettes on the side of the bus?". He just rolled his eyes at me.

But you see, he doesn't have a cookie addiction like I do. He doesn't have a sweet tooth, eats healthily, and can turn down FREE cookies without a second glance.

In June, I stayed at a Ritz Carlton in West Palm Beach, Florida. (If you are wondering, a friend won a free night in a raffle.) Do you know what they handed out to guests checking in?

A bottle of water.

So take note, Paris Hilton, I am not going to stay at the Waldorf Astoria (owned by Hilton) ANYMORE. From now on, it is just Ritz's for me :)

Why do we eat chocolate chip cookies? Because they provide comfort - not because we are hungry. They are treats and they are wonderful.

These hotel chains are playing with the "food = comfort connection" and giving us a treat to make us feel special. If you love the cookie, you will probably remember your stay in that particular hotel and make a point of staying there again.

The reason it would backfire on someone like me is that ALL day long I am trying to keep my treats to a reasonable number. Everywhere I turn (especially when I travel) there are confections calling my name.

I don't WANT a cookie shoved in my face - but, I would love a bottle of water :)

What I WILL remember from a hotel stay is cleanliness, comfort of beds, and friendly service - no cookies necessary.

Have you been offered a cookie at a hotel lately? Please share.

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I was at a Holiday Inn Express in the miwest a few months ago an was never offered a cooke but they had a free "happy hour" in the conferance room if you signed up for some frequent stayer premer membership (which was free) They had little cubes of cheese,fresh fruit,and these greasy stiffed potato skin and deep fried mozzerella sticks. Of course I had a little because I hadn't eaten much that day. To top it off I also took advantage of the complimentary wine. At the time I really thought I needed all of that!

I find hotel cookies strangely greasy. I also don't think hotels that give cookies have anything special going on. :/

Water is a much safer bet. Not as comforting, but I have many friends and family members that have gluten or chocolate(gasp) allergies. One friend I flew with on an airline that served warm chocolate chip cookies & I had to loan her my box of Altoids to stick her nose in until the snack cart had passed...the chocolate smell was that overwhelming.

I can't argue with a warm chocolate chip cookie! I'll take it. (As you say, it's a treat! I'm with your hubby on this one...)

We stayed at a couple of Hampton Inn hotels. Both offered free breakfast in the morning and free fruit, coffee, and tea all day. One offered bottled water and snacks like oreos, chips, and other junk food upon check-in.

Aw man. Now I'm craving chocolate chip cookies.

I stayed at a very nice hotel in wine country in N. Cali. a few years ago (like your Ritz trip, we won it). It may have been DT because they served warm cookies upon arrival. Although, I'm a nutritionist, I loved the cookies & didn't think much about it, but they also had turn-down service w/a chocolate on the pillow. I questioned why a hotel would want to feed people something caffeinated right before bedtime. Maybe that way they could report that although, they were wide awake all night, it was on silky sheets and plush pillows? On the breakfast menu under "petite dejeuner" (that would be "light breakfast" in French), they had a mini-muffin array served with fresh fruit. What was the mini-muffin array? EIGHT bite size muffins, 2 each: blueberry, chocolate, cinnamon & banana nut with a 1/4 of a sliced apple. The only thing that breakfast was light in is nutrition.

Thanks for putting together such an informative, reader-friendly site. I love your cigarette analogy in this piece and really enjoy reading your articles.

I couldn't agree more, and what about the free 'continental breakfast' that most of these chains serve. Enough of that topped with a chocolate chip cookie and your stays will eventually be in a sick bed...

I've never stayed at a DoubleTree Inn, but I have had their cookies, and I have to say they're really good. If you're going to stay at a hotel that gives out famously tasty cookies, then you should plan your calories to take full advantage -- like Maria, I'm with your husband on this one. :) Of course, if the treats they're giving out aren't good, then I agree that a healthy bottle of water (or nothing! Why waste the plastic?) is a better choice.

I stayed at a DoubleTree for work a couple of months ago, and I agree! I was shocked by the cookie! I still had Biscottis from Delta in my purse! i took the cookie, but ate it the next day. I was still good, but I like what another commenter said about having signups for giveaways and food you can take if you want. I don't want to say no to the check-in staff who just wants to me feel good! maybe i'll ask for the nutrition facts along with the cookie next time.

I'd prefer they didn't offer bottled water either. It's awful for the environment.

I can provide myself with my own food and drink anyways. ;)

@ Silvia -- I have to be a bit nit-picky.... petit dejeuner does NOT mean light breakfast. It just means breakfast, and could be huge. Dejeuner on its own means lunch.

If I'm ordering something from room service, I generally expect it to be large, and I plan on sharing, which makes sense also if you think too hard about the prices.

I also have no problem with the cookie -- I won't be picky about something that's free -- but I'll admit I'd prefer a bottled water.

I too can attest to the yumminess of the Double Tree cookies. When I stayed at one of their hotels a year ago, I had one of their Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies...oh my god SO good. Like not even just good for a was one of the best cookies I had ever had (probably helped by the fact that it was fresh and ooey-gooey warm).

If I stay there again, I'm afraid I just won't be able to resist ;).

I experienced this delicious treat at a Doubletree Inn years ago in New Orleans. I thought it was a wonderful gesture and it added to my fond memories of the entire trip. However, I am not one who can eat just one cookie. Sadly, I want another and another and ......another. There are people who can stop after eating just one or two cookies and I am glad they are given an opportunity to enjoy this treat.

Many of the Starwood hotels (Westin, W, Sheraton, Luxury collection, St. Regis, Aloft and Element) offer you a bottle water and a .... get ready... an APPLE! Snack girl, maybe try a Starwood property on your next traveling experience

For someone like me with a true food addiction (sugar and carbs) this type of food pushing just triggers my craziness! Although I admit, I love the cookie idea, that one cookie sends me into a tailspin of more cookies, and then a full out witch hunt for sweets! I would love if they would hand out something else....maybe a bowl of fresh fruit? Much less "comforting" but better for all of us!

The Doubletree in Niagara Falls canada has them and I think it's a nice little perk. They only give each guest one for their stay (each day would be a lot)and it's kind of nice and super yummy. Makes me feel ...special!! Me and the kids have our cookies with some nice cold milk before bed on our first night. I eat healthy 90% of the time but like that treat now and then.

I can beat the inappropriateness of handing out food in a hotel - when my kids were young, the Sunday School they attended insisted on feeding the kids sugar cookies and sugary fruitade during Sunday School class. My children had eaten a healthy breakfast before attending church and the last thing I wanted was someone feeding them unhealthy snacks without my permission :-( Nothing I could do to get them to stop this unfortunate practice. Oh, they also had a coffee & donuts social hour after church for the adults - but we could turn it down, unlike the kids who are more susceptible to any junk that is thrown at them! We have turned into a nation that can't seem to meet for 5 minutes without having to snack on something - what an awful habit to instill in our children.

I just stayed at a Double Tree last week. I liked the cookies so much I asked for one every night of my four night stay! I am a total sucker for warm chocolate chip cookies. I did gain 2 lbs on this trip but it came off right away.

Michelle- I swear Delta puts crack in their biscotti! They are way too good.

We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Savannah recently, and they had cookies out in the lobby all day. They were pretty decent, didn't taste like Chips Ahoy or anything :-)

Ha! Reminds me of the time I flew into the Ft. Wayne airport (in Indiana) and was handed a cookie the moment I walked off the plane. As my brother put it as he greeted me at the gate, "Welcome to the Midwest, here's your fat."

That is when I would say, "no thank you, but a juicy apple would be nice"

the 4 seasons shuttle offers hot chocolate in the wintertime. and i dont mind it at all :)

Ha! I stayed at a Doubletree last weekend and had the same experience. I am gluten free, so it was particularly heart-wrenching to turn down my cookie. I also suffer from a sweet tooth so I totally get where you're coming from. I'm with ya, just give me some water!

You know, I LIKE it when they offer something like a cookie. Why? Because if I had a batch at home and I were younger and had a faster metabolism, I probably would eat at least a dozen. Can't do that anymore so I don't have them around the house, and having one somewhere is an indulgent treat (if it's a good cookie--if there's a package of Chips Ahoy sitting there in the church social hall, I pass--if it's a warm cookie that's actually good, yay).

But that's beside the point. It's an offering of a cookie--you can take it or you can say "no thank you." And if you take it, you don't have to eat it all. If you want to watch your weight, eat part and save some for later, or split one with someone, or take a bite or two and throw the rest away, or just add 15 minutes to your workout.

I don't have a sweet tooth, unless it is an absolutely fabulous sweet. Nothing but the best for me! So if they offered me a cold average cookie, I could easily turn it down. But if they offered me a warm, cookie made with quality chocolate, ooooh I would have to take a bite. If they offered me a bottle of water, I'd say "thanks" and then yawn!!!!

Last year, I stayed at the Tropicana Holtel and Casino in Atlantic City...they gave 4 huge sugar cookies at check in amd check out, 8 all together. But we were on vacation and promised ourselves it was all about treating ourselves...

Willpower! There are many many temptations in life, learn to just say "No!"

We tell that to our kids, but we also need to practice it ourselves.

That said.........90% is a good habit to get into.

90% "good" leaves 10% "not so good"

A cookie is sometimes just a cookie.

It's just a cookie. You only live once - eat the cookie.

I don't see anything wrong with being offered a free chocolate chip cookie. Bottles of water are boring in comparison, and you can get them anywhere. Me, I'll take the cookie every time. *shrug*

Hello everyone! To comment on the cookie situation...I work at Hampton Inn, a Hilton property. We serve cookies! Chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. We are constantly refilling the tray. We at my property also hand out bottles of water to our guests. We understand that traveling can be tiring, stressful and sometimes flat out crappy. Some folks are coming to us for weddings, conventions, funerals or just plain ol fun. Regardless, it seems that people just enjoy a treat. It's one of our many ways of saying "Welcome", take a load off and relax. Have a cookie...or dont. We are not cookie pushers.Lol. We don't have a "cookie quota" to meet. We also always have fresh fruit in our breakfast area that you can help yourself to as well. So basically our goal is to make your stay with us great and not to cause you any stress about cookie consumption. ;) Here's a little fyi for you...for those of you who follow WW Points Plus each chocolate chip cookie is 5pts. For everyone else the cookies have 170 calories, 7 gms fat, 24 gms carbs. Regardless of if you snag a cookie or not we honestly just want you to be happy with your stay. No matter which Hilton property you choose. :D

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