I wasn’t really sure which site to post this one on, travel or medical. A lot of us already know how great it is to choose a gluten free lifestyle even if you are not allergic to gluten, however, why would a hotel care enough to offer such choices? For many Americans today either a sensitivity to gluten or a diagnosis of Celiac disease, which is a total inability to digest even the smallest amounts of gluten, is a reality.
The hotel industry caters to millions of people around the world each day and part of this is the form of a hotel restaurant. I happen to practically live in hotels and am sad to say that without a car I am often stuck eating whatever is offered there at the hotel. Whether it’s for a healthier lifestyle or for true necessity, hotel owners are starting to listen and those who do will be better off for it. Especially since a lot of the time simple changes and/or additions are all it takes.
I make my own gluten free crust at home by substituting gluten free flour blends. So those hotels with their own pastry chefs can simply make the same deserts by starting with the altered crust. It is so easy that it wouldn’t take any extra time at all. Basically, I find that except for perhaps a fillo dough, baking gluten free is really easy. As far as main courses, substituting regular flour for something like tapioca starch makes all the difference. If a property doesn’t have it’s own chef on staff, there are still ways to offer gluten free products to their guests.
Hotels are starting to offer these healthier choices in venues like the in room mini-bar at the Palomar Hotel in San Francisco and gluten free breakfast options at Omni Hotels & Resorts after they found that 10% of surveyed guests want these items. Nielsen, a consumer tracking company discovered that $8.4 million in sales of gluten free items were bought last year and I am pretty sure as word spreads and cost come down, this number will only grow.
Unfortunately, there are still the occasional wait staff or cook that do not completely understand and will bring a “gluten-free” item that is covered in a sauce thickened with a wheat based flour. With that in mind, I hope that hotels will continue to look into the idea of gluten free and train the staff appropriately. For now, I think that we’re on a good track.