The Rise of the Floating Breakfast

The floating breakfast in a private plunge pool at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort amp Spa.

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Croissant crumbs adhere to my cleavage. My coffee is ice-cold. My calves hurt from standing on tiptoe. It’s taken 20 minutes to set up my iPhone on a tripod at the pool’s edge, and to position my floating breakfast tray—laden with fruit, eggs, juice, coffee, croissants, and a vase of hot pink hibiscus blossoms—in just the right spot. I’m trying not to drop my phone’s remote shutter into the water while simultaneously summoning the carefree smile of someone who’s living her best breakfast life, turquoise coffee cup in hand. The setup is exhausting. But my efforts will be worth it, I hope, when my sumptuous floating breakfast in the pool of an over-water villa at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa hits my Instagram feed, inspiring a deluge of likes. 

The floating breakfast in a private plunge pool at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa.

Adam Bruzzone/Hilton Maldives Amingiri

Move over, breakfast in bed—floating breakfasts are here. Since the #floatingbreakfast photos began to appear in our timelines, the most important meal of a day has become one of the most Instagrammable. Believed to have originated in Bali (exactly where is unclear, but Jumana Bali Ungasan Resort has been serving them since 2019), the moveable feasts are common at luxury resorts in Thailand, Bali, Fiji, the Philippines, the Maldives, and the Caribbean. Served in trays filled with foam so they float, they’re photogenic, styled with fresh flowers and a large continental  spread. And at the height of the pandemic, floating breakfasts also became a practical, albeit pricey indulgence (Hilton Maldives Amingiri’s is $130 per couple), a socially distant dining experience that felt celebratory rather than sadly solitary. 

So, since I’m in the Maldives, it seems almost rude It is not clear how to get there. Join the legion of guests who indulge once or twice per stay. The executive chef Praveen shetty says that the orders for the poolside platters have more than doubled in the past year. But the hotel, which opened last July, limits delivery to four per day because service is time-consuming, requiring tray decoration as well as “fun pose” and “best backdrop” photo direction from staff. “It can sometimes turn into a photo shoot,” says Shetty. “While this may result in cold breakfast items, our guests don’t mind, as they have everlasting memories to look back on.”

Floating breakfasts can be a challenge, despite the lukewarm food and long set-up time. At the Aruba Airstream Experience—a 30-foot Airstream trailer-turned-Airbnb with a private pool—the island’s breezes can be an issue. “The wind can push the tray really fast around the pool, so it becomes more of a racing breakfast than floating,” says manager Katrin Zehl. “And you need to balance it correctly, otherwise it can all end up in the pool pretty quickly.” Nevertheless, 20 percent of guests request the meals, which start at $30 per person. “It’s more popular among our female guests and it seems to be very popular for pictures,” she adds.

The meals can be served at any time in the day by a butler serviced swim-up room at Sandals.

Sandals Resorts

Pool maintenance isn’t an issue, however, for Thailand’s Kimpton Kitalay Samui. “We decided to put a unique spin on the floating menu and opt for cocktails and canapes,” says Casper Ponnampalam, the resort’s director of restaurants and bars. Guests staying in pool-access accommodations can request the “Dip In, Drink Up” amenity, which, for $58, is delivered on an iced floating tray. The service is also limited to only four suites per day and available from noon until 7 p.m. 

Premium pricing and painstaking staging aside, floating breakfasts look great on the ‘gram. “Let’s be honest,” says Zehl, “it’s just a pretty and unique way to eat a meal.” The 871 people who liked my photo agree.

Other resorts offer floating platters to fuel your day:

Conrad Punta de Mita, Mexico 

Any item on the breakfast menu, as long as it fits, can be delivered to you in a floating tray at no additional charge. 

Sandals Resorts 

Guests in butler-serviced, swim-up rooms at the all-inclusive chain’s resorts in Jamaica, Curaçao, and the Bahamas can have meals served in the water at any time of day, at no additional cost. 

Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi 

This retreat serves about 10 floating breakfasts per month starting at $190 for couples.

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