Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hotels Closing Down Mini Bars

Hotel minibars, those dens of temptation ogled by sugar-seeking kids and midnight snackers alike, are going the way of traditional room keys at some hotels.

Major hotels such as Hyatt Regency and the Sheraton are dispensing with them.

Those who are ditching the in-room luxury cite three main factors: lackluster sales of all but a few items; the hassle and expense of restocking minibars every day and having to toss expired items; and travelers' desire to bring their own, less costly, goodies.

"In so many ways, minibars are becoming a bit of a nuisance," said Leo Percopo, general manager of the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which opened in late September without minibars. "People are fine with bottled water. They don't need all that other stuff."

John O'Connell is food and beverage director for Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, which took minibars out of its 492 rooms during a $50 million makeover this fall and replaced them with empty refrigerators. He said that the resort basically sold one of everything but not a lot of anything to make minibars financially worthwhile. Profit margins on the pricey goodies are similar to what the resort sees in its restaurants and bars but on a fraction of the volume.

"We did make a profit, but not enough," he said.

However, no one is writing the minibars' obituary. Plenty of hotels and resorts around the country swear by them.

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