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HOTELS & SPAS

Have you recently taken a look inside the hotel minibar?

January 3, 2014
Minibar at Zoetry Casa del Mar, Los Cabos
Minibar at Zoetry Casa del Mar, Los Cabos

Minibar at Zoetry Casa Del Mar, Los Cabos, Mexico

The day of the gouging hotel minibar may be numbered as many go the way of the all-inclusive — or at least stock healthier items.

Travelers have a love-hate relationship with minibars: They object to the inflated costs, unhealthy offerings and limited choices but appreciate the convenience.

Free minibars, however, are becoming more common as many hotels, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, migrate to all-inclusive rates.

Guests can’t gripe about minibar costs at the 33 properties in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic managed by AMResorts, which includes the Zoetry, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now and Sunscapes brands. The all-inclusive rates include free bottled water, beer, juice and soft drinks, all replenished daily. Guests who upgrade to Preferred Level rooms get complimentary miniature bottles of liquor, plus M&Ms and Pringles.

Complimentary Snacks at Zoetry Casa Del Mar, Los Cabos, Mexico

Complimentary Snacks at Zoetry Casa Del Mar, Los Cabos, Mexico

Guests at the Greenwich Hotel, Robert DeNiro’s boutique property in Manhattan, can dig into a brimming basket of snacks or quench their thirst with nonalcoholic beverages, all at no additional cost. At the Andaz Maui at Wailea, which opened in September, complimentary items include Virgil’s Real Cola, Honest Ade orange mango juice, Kind fruit and nut bars, and Popchips.

The newly launched wellness program at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Florida has substituted a “wellness fridge” stocked with low-sodium, low-fat and high-protein foods. Though not cheap, they certainly are healthier than salty chips.

Items in the Wellness Fridge at St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Bal Harbour, Florida

Items in the Wellness Fridge at St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Bal Harbour, Florida (Photo credit: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort)

When healthier fare or more reasonably priced items are offered, guests don’t feel as though they’re being fleeced, said Jeff Weinstein, editor in chief of HOTELS magazine.

Though minibars can be expensive to stock and operate and monitoring inventory can be tricky, it can be a perk that differentiates one property from the next. Four Seasons, for example, is localizing the minibar experience at many properties. Its minibars stock beef jerky in Denver; Santa Fe Spirits in 50-milliliter bottles in Santa Fe, N.M.; and artisanal chocolate bars from Fleurir in Washington, D.C.

All in all, it’s a small indulgence that might pay big dividends for hotels.


[This article by Irene S. Levine was published in both the Chicago Tribune and the Florida Sun-Sentinel on January 1, 2014 .] 


Interested in learning more about the history of minibars? Read The Rise and Fall of the Hotel Minibar on Priceonomics. 

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Rose
    January 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    That is encouraging news!

  • Reply
    Dyanne@TravelnLass
    January 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Great pics and nicely done, Irene!

    But I have to laugh – given that I much prefer to travel off-grid (sleeping in gers in Mongolia for example), clearly “minibar” selections are the least of my worries. 😉

  • Reply
    Neva
    January 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Once we had to raid an expensive mini-bar cause the soda machine was broken. Hate when that happens. You did a great job of covering this convenience that you hate to use.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      I would have to be pretty desperate (probably for chocolate) to pay minibar prices!

  • Reply
    Michelle da Silva Richmond
    January 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Nice story….and yet one more reason why I love traveling to Mexico and their all-inclusive “goodies.”

  • Reply
    miamicurated
    January 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I’d love to see crudites for snacking!

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