Asian Stir Fry, Grilled Veggie Plate or Pasta with Fresh Veggies? I was spoilt for choice as I scanned the options, but I wasn’t at a restaurant. I was standing in a tucked away corner of the lobby at the Marriott O’Hare, looking at Marriott’s first healthy vending machine.
I’d written about the new machine before, which you can find here. I was excited to try it out so the tough part was deciding what to get.
There were breakfast choices like fruit cups, yogurt with berries, and quinoa with almond milk.
There were sandwiches, salads, hearty options like stir fry and pasta, and a wrap.
I saw all kinds of sauces, and sides like veggie sticks with hummus and some granola bites.
The huge touch screen was easy to use, and I tapped in my choices. I picked the pasta with veggies, and wanted to add tofu and coconut curry sauce to it.
As soon as I selected something it gave me nutritional facts, and then I just touched the picture of a shopping cart for it to be added to my cart.
I found even though I could increase my quantity of chosen items, there was a maximum of 2 different items that could be purchased at a time. Alas, the coconut curry was not to be found anywhere on the menu. I tried all four of their main areas – proteins, sauces, salads, and sides, but there was a glitch that didn’t allow it to be selected. That was ok though, because there were plenty of other choices.
It was time to swipe my card, and the reader was just to the left of the screen. One easy swipe and the screen prompted me to enter my email address to receive the receipt electronically which I liked.
When I had finished with my purchase, a small table held sturdy but biodegradable bowls, forks, and napkins. An employee walking by mentioned that the company comes to restock all the fresh items regularly and when items aren’t purchased in a few days they are removed and given to homeless. That got a thumbs up from me.
After I retrieved my prize from the machine, I unscrewed the lid of the jar to find a separate container inside that held salad dressing.
Each item also had a label with ingredients and listing possible allergens.
I tried the quinoa and cauliflower fried rice and a friend tried the veggie sticks with hummus. We both agreed that all the items were fresh and tasty.
It was actually so good that I went back the next morning to try something else, and was disappointed to find that many of the breakfast items were so popular they were already sold out.
Here’s a video of the machine in action.
I think this vending machine is a great idea. I was surprised that Marriott didn’t have it in a more prominent position but rather had it tucked away in a corner. I knew it was there somewhere in the lobby because I’d written about it and went to find it, but if I had been a guest just wandering around I’m not sure that I would have seen it.
Hopefully Marriott will roll this out to more locations, and maybe more hotel chains will catch on too. Instead of stale chips and fatty chocolates I’d love to have fresh choices like these everywhere. Would you try something from this vending machine?