When Photographing A Hyatt Breakfast Buffet Is Strictly Prohibited

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

I’m staying at the Hyatt Regency Toronto at the moment, which is a bit of a dump. As is the norm with my hotel stays, I take pictures of everything, including my room, the lobby, breakfast, etc., because I plan on writing a review.

This morning I went down to breakfast, and took a handful of pictures of the buffet. I noticed the host who seated me watched as I took pictures, which I don’t actually find to be that unusual. That’s because nowadays hotel employees seem to really be on their toes and identify people taking pictures as likely being TripAdvisor reviewers, which they’re incentivized to take care of (many hotel chains pay their employees a bonus if they’re mentioned by name in a TripAdvisor review).

So when taking pictures at buffets I know I’ve sometimes been asked “is everything okay?” When I say it is okay, they’re happy and just smile and are usually even more attentive afterwards.

Well, this morning I had something happen for the first time. Out of hundreds and hundreds of hotel stays, I was told for the first time ever that I couldn’t take pictures of a breakfast buffet.


The guy came up to me and said “it is not allowed to photograph our buffet.”

I was caught a bit off guard, since I’ve never ever been told that at a chain hotel. I responded “okay… seriously?”

“Yes sir, you can’t take pictures.”


I stopped at that, though in retrospect wish I had asked follow up questions about whether it’s a hotel policy, or what.

The irony is that the breakfast was one of the few redeeming qualities of the hotel, so I was actually trying to make the place look good in that regard.

Has anyone experienced something like this before?

  1. It is a well known fact that in Canada, breakfast buffets have a statutory right to privacy.

    Seriously, what is with these clowns who run around telling people not to take photographs? I wouldn’t pick a fight with a cop over when to take a picture or not (not worth the hassle) but I wonder if we shouldn’t start pushing back against these corporate numpties who think they can tell people when they can or can’t take pictures.

  2. It’s a security risk. Or health and safety issue. Every non-sense policy/rule these days can always be justified wiht one of those three.

  3. I had that happened to me at that hotel before. Although I found out that it’s a part of a set of a popular Canadian show and they had some unusual restrictions.

  4. Same expericence at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Took handful of buffet pictures, all of a sudden one employ came and refrain from taking pictures. No idea what’s the reason behind it but was something unusual.

  5. That Hyatt is a bit of a dump for sure. It was a Holiday Inn before. I worked in the office part of that building for 2 years and walked through the lobby of the Holiday Inn every day.

    Welcome to Toronto, Lucky!

  6. That’s a Toronto jobsworth for ya!

    (spoken as an ex-Montrealer and ex-Vancouverite, neither of which are fans of stuffy TO 🙂

  7. Wow, slumming it in Canada? Toronto has a Shangri-la, Ritz, Four Seasons, Trump (regrettably), Thompson, numerous 5 star boutique hotels beside the brands, Fairmont, Marriott, Hilton, Westin/Sheraton and even a low grade Park Hyatt and you’re staying at a Regency. Yikes. I’ve never even tried that one out on my journeys into Toronto.

  8. It is becoming a norm now a days to tell not to take a picture. I was taking a picture of my office building when it was getting remodeled, then suddenly the security guy comes came and said no pictures are allowed. I think they just want to show their power that they can make some one life miserable.

  9. I was told by security at the small grocery store in the Milan Central Station I could not take pictures of my kids shopping in the store.

  10. I would make it a big deal. Asked him to show me the written policy that strictly shows it is forbidden to take pictures of the breakfast buffet. With clowns like this you have to put them on their place. Even if I had to call Hyatt customer service and ask them for the policy. BTW, TripAdvisor has become a huge deal in Europe. Nobody ever mentioned TripAdvisor when staying at a hotel or eating at a restaurant here in the US. However, in Europe I was shocked to see how hotels and restaurants care about that. You see TripAdvisor signs in every place and they bring you a reminder to rate them when you get your bill. I stayed at 5 start hotels and on the night prior to check out I got a handwritten letter from the hotel manager thanking me for my stay and asking me to please rate them accordingly on TripAdvisor. From one side that is good but I am afraid customers are using that as a way to get benefits from hotel employees, restaurants, etc…

  11. If I am traveling and see someone doing that I usually pay attention to them as they usually provide an interesting distraction. And as you said it’s a way to benchmark service. It’s one thing for employees to be a little extra chatty or attentive to someone at a table when they act materially different to a customer because it serves them. Customers shouldn’t feel like they are neglected because they are not a know reviewer.

  12. So now you are Caspar Milquetoast? You should have said : “my 800,000 readers expect pictures” not “okay”. You are too polite.
    I doubt I have had a single stay without one or more people taking pics: and would be suspicious of any property forbidding it.

  13. Bored, irritated employees making up rules. Or perhaps they were worried about the safety of the eggs 🙂

  14. I would have simply asked for the manager and gone from there. It’s either a rogue employee or a ridiculous policy, both of which should be called out on.

  15. I would at least try to get an explanation if it’s an official policy and, if so, why it’s in place.

  16. Ben, I know you wouldn’t, because you value a certain anonymity, but I think you need a business card that just lists your name, website, and say an email, and hand it to employees like that. Then invite them to contact you if you can be of assistance in any way. Kill with kindness, and leave them to connect the dots. Too much?

  17. Lol, Canada, the land of shit holes.

    –30 yo dude just moved from the States to Canada due to work, and regret it everyday!

  18. Wow what a coincident, I’m in Toronto today and this weekend as well.
    Lucky, do you do any meet ups with your readers from times to times?
    I’d love to meet you in person and have a quick bite/chat.
    Let me know if you’d be down for it!

  19. If you’re Lucky do you really do all these things you uber-confrontation warriors are advocating? Sure he should handcuff himself to the omelette station until they get the police to vindicate the notion that there must be a written policy.

    So ridiculous.

    If you’re Lucky isn’t your reaction, fine, if that’s your position be careful what you ask for. If Lucky gets a manager to let him take pictures maybe we get a blog review with pictures of croissants. Isn’t it far better for him to be able to write a post about a dump of a hotel flying the Hyatt flag that is so embarrassed about its breakfast that it prohibits pictures?

  20. I wonder how they would enforce such a policy if a guest took or continued to take pictures? I mean if they call 911, I don’t think that would be a high priority call for the LEO’s to come out and respond. So just how would the hotel enforce such a policy?

    I think it’d be easier for an airline to enforce, since after 9/11, its become relatively easy for them and without consequence to toss a passenger off a flight under the broad terms of interfering with flight crew or just “security.”

    I mean I guess the hotel could “ask” someone to leave but by the time they were able to toss the person out I would imagine anyone could have taken a lot of photos and then the hotel would be out of luck.

    Also if the person were taking video, and the hotel was trying to toss them, that kind of video (with that confrontation and conflict) might get a lot of play say on Youtube and it might bring the property unflattering attention to be “featured” in that way.

    Aso what about someone like Lucky who took some photos but perhaps not all the photos they wanted.

    What is the hotel really thinking in trying in vain to craft a policy like this in an age when everything is pretty much game for photos. It might have been an ok strategy in the 1950’s but I don’t think its sustainable or enforceable now.

    Also people like me who like to push the envelope might have fun tyring to get the hotel to “enforce” the policy, again, how????????:”?

  21. Hey Karl, do you wonder why Americans are so disliked around the world? Comments like yours. Sorry you can’t walk the streets strapped with guns and ammunition in Canada. Does the sight of all cultures and religions and sexual orientation living, working and playing together scare you? What we need is a leader like Trump and then we can kick out all the immigrants like you!

  22. Sadly that worked against them it would seem, as now the review you wrote about the experience is a negative one. Just because the breakfast may be okay and decent, that interaction alone is enough to make me not want to stay there, or any Hyatt for that matter.

  23. Maybe he was just looking for a way to start a conversation with you so he could eventually offer to buy your sweater.

  24. Sometimes things happen and you’ll never know the real reason. I once boarded a short Southwest flight from Birmingham to Jacksonville. As you know, it’s open seating. But the flight attendant informed all passengers as they boarded that the front (bulkhead) row was unavailable. Near the end of boarding a quiet young woman was directed to sit in the front row by the window. The rest of the seats (the 2 next to her and the 3 across the aisle) remained vacant for the entire flight.

  25. No pictures. Because 9/11. Because terrorism.
    Overzealous employees often invent rules to suit their mood.

  26. It is well known in the industry that the Canadian Hyatt’s method to stacking plates (as can be seen in the photo above) is proprietary. I’m surprised the employee / prison guard did not confiscate your camera. However, I do agree with the above suggestion that you should’ve handcuffed yourself to the buffet in order to escalate matters. That’s the least your readers expect from an ambitious blogger 😉

  27. Utter insanity.

    I mean you were taking pictures of food. I can understand if you are taking pictures of the employees doing their job or people in the hotel, I get that.

    But food, I would have carrier on and see what the employee did (Just to piss them off)

  28. @Karl, It looks to me like you just upped the ‘shit hole’ population by one. Congratulations and thanks!

  29. @Lucky, welcome to TO! As others have noted, there are many better hotels in the area and the Hyatt Regency (formerly Holiday Inn) hasn’t had a refresh in years, but its location is its biggest advantage. Happy to join a meetup if you’re having one.

  30. @ Karl

    You moved from the States because your countrymen were wise enough not to hire an entitled, ignorant 30 year-old punk.

    So you are welcomed into our country, given employment and opportunity by Canadians, and then denigrate the entire country?

    Utterly classless.

    Since you regret coming to Canada every day, please leave immediately to open up a space for one of the millions of people who want to be here and will contribute to Canada. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  31. In foreign countries (I wouldn’t have included Canada) it’s common for store owners to prohibit photographs because they are worried about the competition copying their stock, layout, pricing, etc.

    This story is surprising to me though because a buffet is a restaurant and it’s really common (and annoying) for people to photograph their food these days. And there should be no prices printed on the scrambled eggs.

    Please do follow up with the hotel GM and get an official response, my guess is that he or she will say that the employee was mistaken.

  32. Sound like a typical anal retentive Canadian. I can say that because I’m Canadian (not anal retentive, I hope!). Enjoy Toronto, your dollar goes far there these days.

  33. I am surprised your stopped. I would have told him to comp me my breakfast and get the GM. Or the Police.

    What a douchebag.

  34. I like how you rise above the trolls and leave their piffle online without retort, Lucky. You’re my favorite Blogger by a long mile. Keep it up!

  35. I would have laughed at this person and have been sure to mention their name in my review.

  36. Maybe the scones are copyrighted?? Maybe they have an on going incident and they thought you were a reporter exposing roaches in hotel buffets or what not. I’ve been told not to take pictures in various places for decades. And when they tell me so thats when I take more pictures. 🙂

    Now some places I’ll respect like museums because point and shooters with their flashes going off (flashes simulate sunlight) will eventually destroy paint from artwork. But a breakfast buffet? What if you were to take pictures of the people you’re with and they have their backs to the buffet, do you get tackled by the bouncer I mean host.

  37. This is kind of silly. Yes, a normal traveler should be outraged about this. But Lucky isn’t a normal traveler. Your rights to take photos are entirely different when they’re for publication. Especially when you snuck into the hotel without contacting their pr staff first.

  38. @Lucky You should use your TA rate at the Fairmont! It will be much more your style 🙂 I agree the Regency is a little shabby but upper management is actually very good, from past personal experience.

  39. I wrote Hyatt a few years ago after staying at that property and said it was ruining their brand. Total dump. It shouldn’t be a Hyatt.

  40. Go figure – a tourist taking a picture inside a Canadian hotel – how disgusting!

    Canada has a long way to go welcome global tourists.

  41. Let’s have a second perspective.
    I work in an industry where public pictures become damning because someone did not have the correct safety equipment on or the condition photographed displayed an incorrect situation.

    So just because it is important to you for your review for pictures, it could be important for someone else to not have pictures taken.

    All you have to do is note it in your review and all the readers can infer what they want.

    Try working for someone or a large company with many rules; it is not all logical and sometimes not reasonable.

  42. I had a lot of similar things happen to me in Belarus, where I was recently – every restaurant and store I went to told me “no pictures” and said it’s “the law” (which I highly doubt). I also don’t understand why hotels and stores wouldn’t want pictures of them posted.

  43. In spite of the many non-responsive comments, your post was most interesting. I am betting that your post already has Hyatt’s corporate lawyers scrambling. You couldn’t have handled it better. Not only is the “no photo” edict intriguing, I did not previously know that employees are incentivized for a TA name recognition. Do you know how common this is? Is it becoming an industry standard? I have done several hundred TA reviews and I am weighing the pros and cons of mentioning a helpful employee by name.

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