Staff canteen, a love/hate story

Big hotels or resorts normally have staff canteens within their properties. I have worked in as many as five different resorts in Bali and I can say that the common relationship between an employee and a staff canteen is always that of love/hate. A staff`canteen can make your life more practical. It can bore you to death, too. Below are my notes on each of the hotel canteens, in a random order.

  • Resort A Canteen: The metal trays didn’t give me a good vibe, really. Walking with a metal tray (rice and all on it) in my hands to the dining table felt like I was in a scene of The Shawshank Redemption. Food tasted good, cooked by (grim-looking) in-house cooks, and you could take as much as you wanted, but I suspected that the ingredients came from what was left in the fridge after all the best ones were taken for the guests. Too bad, the closest restaurant outside the hotel was about 15 minutes away.
  • Resort B Canteen: Food were not bad with good varieties. This came as a result of the hotel using a catering company service based on a six month contract, after which a new catering company would replace. The drawback of this system is not all caterers were consistent in complying with the hotel standard. There were days when food was poor, both in quality and presentation. 
  • Resort C Canteen: If the previous two resorts apply a certain allowance per employee, for example IDR17,500/staff/day, this resort had a different system. At the beginning of every month, every employee was given monthly meal allowance in form of hotel money (similar to monopoly notes), with values range from IDR1,000 to IDR10,000. There was a good selection of main course items to desserts in the International-standard canteen, each was given a certain price. They even had an a la carte menu (burgers, salads, steaks, etc.), given that order was placed one day in advance. But still, some of the staff got tired of the food options and preferred eating in a food stall just outside the hotel.
  • Resort D Canteen: Similar to Resort C in terms of food options, minus the hotel money and ice cream selections. The only drawback was inconsistency in taste and cooking methods. Different cooks, different methods, and there were these hotel kitchen trainees who might still need to learn how to make a dish correctly.
  • Resort E Canteen: It was by far the lowest in standard in terms of space. It was quite a tiny canteen for hundreds of staff with quite poor ventilation. There was a fan on the ceiling for air circulation, but some staff smoke in the room, too. Food-wise, it was fair. The servers were kind and strict at the same time facing staff who asked for additional this or that. Good thing was there were quite a lot of options outside the hotel within walking distance.
Some hotels also have separate eating spaces for management level staff and common staff. I don’t favor this, to say the least. I may write about it some other time.

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