A panel discussion hosted by Catering News Middle East to find out more about children’s eating habits on holiday, revealed that under 18s would like more sophisticated, healthier menus options in hotels and restaurants.
Eleven children from years 10, 12 and 13 at The Winchester School, Jebel Ali and Dubai English Speaking College took part in the ‘Healthy Eating’ panel, hosted at Time Oak Hotel & Suites earlier this summer.
The children reported that variety is very important to them when they travel with their parents, and that hotel buffets offer a novelty factor and plenty of choice.
Harrison Le Marquand, year 12 at Dubai English Speaking College said: “Hotel buffets are always good and a novelty. I’ve never had bad food in a hotel.”
Ishan Raj, year 10 at The Winchester School added: “When I go abroad what I look for in hotel food is a good amount of choice.”
However, some reported that hotel buffets can become monotonous on a week-long holiday, and often encourage overeating.
Rachel Marshall, year 10 at The Winchester School commented: “It gets annoying because there’s so much so you end up bloated.”
Rachel’s classmate Abhinav Nair added: “Sometimes it’s just the same over and over again and if you’re staying for a week it gets annoying if you’re eating from the same selection every day. Buffets are always the same and there’s a limit to how much you can enjoy them.”
However, when it comes to children’s menus, the group reported that hotels and restaurants often don’t offer enough variety, healthy options or sophisticated dishes.
Alijaeh Go, year 10 at The Winchester School said: “I feel like the children’s menus underestimate the palate and taste of children, especially as we become more globalised with the internet.
“Children know more food; they know more culture, so I feel that restaurants should try to adapt to that change of taste.”
Toby Hodges, year 12 at Dubai English Speaking College added that a child’s palate and awareness of nutrition develops dramatically in a short space of time, so menu options should vary for different age groups.
“I think the age range is too wide. When you’re 12 compared to when you’re six it’s a massive change, you can’t compare the two. As you get older you experience more things, your parents introduce you to new things and you become more adventurous,” he said.
“I think from the health perspective it needs to be considered more. When you’re six you don’t question the calories of chicken nuggets but as you get older you need to consider those things.”
A report on the findings from the roundtable was broadcast on Dubai Eye. Listen to the podcast by clicking on this link.
The full roundtable discussion will be published in the September issue of Catering News Middle East.
The event was part of a series of three panel discussions with children organised by BNC Publishing in partnership with Time Hotels to find out more about what Generation Z expect from a holiday.
The other panels were: ‘Travelling with teens – what do teenagers want in a family holiday?’ and ‘Marking Dubai as a tourist destination’.