What are American, European & Continental Meal Plans in Hotel?

Globally, providing a room with meals inclusive is a practice that is considered standard across the hospitality industry. Hotels, especially the fancy ones, include meals in the rates they charge for a room. A plan without meals inclusive is considered the cheapest. In the same spirit, it makes sense that the rates, including a full course meal, will be at least higher.

different-meal-plan-hotelGenerally, there are 4 types of meals plans practiced all over the world, including room only, bed and breakfast, half board and full board. Half board package entails a bed and two meals per day while an entire board consists of a bed and full course meal, which means 3 meals in a day.

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These 4 main meal plans are further modified into the following categories:

The American Plan

The American plan, abbreviated as AP, is globally quoted in major hotels and resorts. It means that the rates provided include the room and 3 meals in a day. The three meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals are full course. This plan is also called a full board. However, the cost of drinks and children food is not included in the package. The service area for the food is your choice, either the dining area or room service. But the food is prepared in the hotel or resort premises.

american-plan-AP-hotelThis plan suits best those who choose to reserve a bed further away from town. The implication is that in rural areas, there is no sufficient security, raising concerns about your safety. It is advisable for travelers and guests choosing to stay in hotels in the remote area.

A good example of places that the American plan is mostly used is the cruise ships. Since the guests cannot take a walk around to get food of their choice, they have to contend with the provisions of the cruise accommodations. More innovative ways have come up in this business as the management seeks to improve food consumption. There has been the introduction of foods such as sushi with its dedicated restaurant. More customers who want a varied choice will walk in any of the restaurants to purchase their choice of meals. The management taps on these opportunities to cash in on them. Furthermore, there are cruise ships that have introduced special buffet gatherings which, of course, go at a fee.

Points to note:

  • The all-inclusive meal plan is very different. With the American plan, there are no snacks or drinks or any other in-fills between main meals. This is, however normal with all-inclusive packages that let their customers enjoy meals throughout the day with drinks included.
  • As earlier noted, the plan is also called a full board plan or the full pension plan. This is how the American plan is known as outside America.
  • It is normal to reward excellent work. Especially in hospitality, tipping is a common practice. However, tips are not included in these packages. If you feel philanthropic, then carry yourself some extra cash for this purpose. However, be sure to inquire first.

Advantages of the American plan

  • With this plan, you are assured of breakfast. You are likely to be presented with a wide variety of meals for your breakfast. Depending on the country, you will be served with the best there is. Well, this seems to favor those in cruise ships more since they have a shortage of choice apart from the ship. Those in resorts and hotels on the mainland cities may not be so fortunate.
  • You have an open schedule allowing you to do more adventures than worrying about meals and how you will get them.
  • It is easy to plan since most time is saved. For any party or event, the most diverse subject is food. Being able to get all kinds of food at one point helps to plan seamlessly, especially if the venue is being used for the whole event. Also, the costs may be discounted due to numbers.
  • Some establishments do not take away the privilege of having drinks completely, in fact, most dinners have drinks included. This may, however, not be the case with other meals. Also, you have the mandate to obtain a drinks card which will enable you to have drinks at discounted prices.

Disadvantages of the American plan

  • Depending on the location of the establishment, the quality of the food provided will vary considerably; this may have an effect on the customer base. Due to these challenges, some people prefer taking the room alone then get food from quality food joints.
  • Plenty of food is usually provided. But this may include a provision of an extra fee. Therefore, if you have plenty of appetites, then this is not the best package for you. The food served in too little to sustain a serious or an involving activity.
  • An excellent meal package should allow for alterations and substitutions whenever the customer wishes so. This package, however, may not take into account this requirement. This may leave the clients distraught and in search of alternatives elsewhere.
  • Fixed feeding schedules make the package to be unpopular. Cruise companies, however, have increasingly changed this practice to accommodate those who wish to eat at their own times. It feels good for customers if their wishes are put into consideration.
  • There are concerns that a client may be required to reserve food even after they have already on the American plan. This is a significant inconvenience to the client.

Modified American Plan

Abbreviated as MAP, the Modified American Plan means that the price quoted for a night’s accommodation includes 2 meals which are provided in the same establishment, either in the dining area or you can call it up in the room. The meal plan is referred to as half board or half pension by those outside America, especially in European countries. Just like the American plan, those residing in remote areas that do not have restaurants are advised to choose this package. The food offered is breakfast and any other; it can be lunch or dinner

Advantages of the modified American meal plan

  • Compared to the American plan, this package is cheaper. This is since only two meals are served in addition to the bed. Contrary to the American plan, which serves three dishes. A difference of one main dish.
  • With this plan, the client is at liberty to get food from nearby restaurants. And since the foods offered in these packages tend to be somewhat fixed, you can try something new out there.
  • The package is convenient for the client in the sense that they would be aware of the source of their food. Therefore, they can save time on that venture.

Disadvantages of the modified American meal plan

  • The food menu tends to be limited. Some hotels and resorts do not allow for substitutions to food.
  • One of the reasons a client would opt for this plan is to get that thrill of food. However, due to the drawbacks of the plan, there is no thrill. The customer then represses their sense of food adventure.
  • There is no standardized quality of food in this industry. Therefore, you may walk into an establishment that offers food which may not be your liking. Now that the menus tend to be static, you may be out of luck.
  • In these kinds of establishments, the meals are usually served at specified times of the day. Lack of flexibility is a major concern since one may be starved when they take a walk out and come later than the service hour.
  • The plan is excellent for those people who would like to skip food. To the foodies, this course in an inconvenience on all the fronts. From the angle on food quality to quantity. If all these angles are compromised, then it is better to look for meals elsewhere.

The European Plan

The European Plan is usually abbreviated as EP in the resorts and hotels listings. According to the European Plan, the price which is quoted only covers the cost of accommodation only. That is only the bed is catered. Food, drinks and snacks are not part of this plan, hence any food provided by the establishment is charged separately.

This plan may exist on the menus with the rest of the plans, including the American plan and the half board meal plan. Therefore, the facility may offer them to you so that it will be your choice. However, some have policies, and so they must be adhered to. Even though the plan is called the European plan, it is offered in almost all hotel and resort establishments worldwide.

Advantages of the European plan

This plan is one of the most offered plans in European countries, including England and Germany. Here are the pros.

  • Here you are at full liberty to visits all restaurants and try out some of the most famous recipes. There is a reason people visit Venice and other cities in the European Union. Food is one of those reasons. Getting to enjoy exquisite foods and local brew makes people want to visit these renowned destinations.it would be a shame if you visited Rome, and be pinned to the food provided in the hotels. At the same time, there is a lot to see and taste in the heart of the city.
  • If saving money is your goal, then this is precisely what you need. Apart from the fact that you will definitely be paying lesser than all other packages, you will not be forced to pay for the meals in the hotel or the resort which may turn out to be more expensive than in the nearest restaurant.
  • It is much better for dates. Your partner will feel much better when your delicacies are pre-ordered and not provided as part of the schedule. For example, if you want to eat lasagna, then it’s easier since you will just place an order. Contrary to when you have to catch serving since the hotel menu is not flexible enough to allow a choice of the time to eat.
  • The plan works with the client’s choice of food. Here, you are free to order in any kind of meal any time. For instance, you can have breakfast in bed. You simply have to buy the food on your way up or, order the food from the local bakeries or supermarkets.
  • Equally, you can have your lunch or dinner anywhere in town. You can use this lunch searching trip to go adventuring in the parks or museums. Furthermore, you do not need to keep time for lunch. The plan is very flexible. It works with your schedule and not that of the hotel.

Disadvantages of the European meal plan

  • With this plan, you may find it challenging to carry a fixed budget. For status, you may not know for sure the prices of food in the neighborhood restaurants. Tipping and taxes are also costs that you need to factor in before you embark on the travels. There are variations in everything, having food factored in your bed package helps you budget well.
  • Slightly of inconvenience since you will need to wake up, get dressed and look for food elsewhere. And, if the weather conditions are not favorable, then it may get worse. Amid these adverse conditions, the hotel may want to keep you in, especially in floods. You may starve.
  • Mostly, several hotels which only offer accommodation services have poor hygienic conditions. For instance, bathrooms may be shared. When looking for a nice hotel for a room, ensure you look it up for reviews and not how much it charges. Also, there is an issue with the security of such establishments.

The Continental Plan

The continental meal plan is abbreviated as CP. It is a common meal plan offered to clients in hotels and resorts. According to continental meal plan, the costs quoted are inclusive of breakfast on the premises for the said period. All other meals are excluded. The plan is ideal for those who stay overnight but have other engagements all day out. Depending on the occasion and the hotel norms, the breakfast may be served in bed by the room service, or a buffet may be served at the dining areas where all are expected to be for the service. Furthermore, there are different breakfast offers. This depends on the beverage. I.e. coffee, tea, cappuccino, juice, chocolate, cocoa, etc.

continental-meal-plan-cpAdvantages of continental meal plan

  • You have complete choice over your lunch and dinner meals.
  • Depending on the hotel, you can be served in bed or be invited out for a buffet in the dining area
  • The service is manageably cheaper than other plans, for example, the full board and the half board meals.
  • It can be romantic, having breakfast in bed.
  • The security is well taken care of since you can go out for lunch and dinner but not so early to prevent security hitched from occurring.

Disadvantages of the continental meal plan

  • Service times for the breakfast can be fixed, which means if something came up, you would be inconvenienced.
  • More expensive than bed alone plan. But just like bed alone, you will need to order in food and carry it in.
  • Hotels may not serve the best food quality. Many people are watching their sizes. If the required food is not served, then the hotel will likely lose clients.

The Bottom Line

There are different meal plans out there. In this tutorial, we have discussed the most popular four. Which one appeals to you more? The choice is yours. However, you need we would like to mention that it is vital to prioritize your health and safety. With the current spread of the deadly coronavirus, it is imperative to visit only hotels that guarantee hygiene and safety measures. Do not compromise any of the safety measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus. Also, look at the customer reviews about the hotels that you intend to visit to get the best experience. We wish you the best.


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