How to decipher those confusing hotel meal plans

Hotel breakfast
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Sid KaplanCan you figure out those hotel meal plans? American Plan, Modified American Plan, European Plan, Half board? What does it all mean?

If you’re looking up hotels in a book or online, you may see that they have meal plans or dining plans listed. There are different “plans” for providing a room and meals and services to their guests. These plans, and other amenities, are often listed as a string of letters after the description of the hotel.

I don’t know about you, but I find all this alphabet soup at the end of hotel listing a bit confusing.

“American Plan”, sometimes abbreviated as AP, means that the quoted rate includes all three meals a day. Why this became known as American Plan is a bit of a mystery to me because, as an American, I can tell you most hotels don’t include breakfast in their hotel rates, let alone another meal or two!

But American Plan is what you should look for if you want to take all of your meals at your hotel and know what the price will be in advance. In the U.S., you will generally only run into this kind of plan in resort hotels or in hotels in remote locations.

“Modified American Plan”, designated as MAP, includes only two meals a day. You will get breakfast included and either lunch or dinner.

In Europe, Modified American Plan is more often referred to as “Half-Pension” or “Half-Board.” Those terms seem to make a little more sense: At least they tell you what you’re signing up for.

We have come across a number of hotels that require you to take half-board in Europe. This assures that they will make a little more money. It can be a good thing if you are in an area without many restaurants, but it also restricts you. If you want to dine at different restaurants, you might want to look for a hotel on the European Plan.

“European Plan”, EP, is a hotel rate that includes NO meals. Another mystery. Don’t most European hotels, the small ones anyway, include breakfast? (I always think they got this backwards because a room with no meals is the way most American hotels operate.)

Tips and service charges may or may not be included with American Plans and European Plans.

Bed and Breakfasts will give you a place to sleep and breakfast. With any of these plans you want to know what breakfast means. Is it a small continental breakfast or a full English breakfast?

“All Inclusive” is a term that means all food and drinks are included in the price of the room. It generally also means that all tips, services charges and some activities such as water sports or horseback riding are included. Not all of these plans are the same, so you should check to see what is included.

When you’re evaluating all of these hotel meal plans, think about what you want. Do you want to just stay at the hotel? Do you want to eat at any little place of your choice? Will those plans save you money or cost you more? There’s no right answer here. Understand what you’re being offered and make an informed decision for your travels.

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By The Frugal Traveller

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