The Hotel Minibar Gets a Makeover

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Is it possible that those ridiculous prices for in-room goodies might actually become worth it?

When we’re on the road, NewsFeed is known to trek to the local convenience store rather than offer our firstborn for a simple bottle of Evian from the hotel room’s minifridge. And hoteliers are starting to wise up to the fact that we feel gouged. That’s why many are making over their minifridges – in an attempt to get us travelers eager to raid the in-room bar.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the M&Ms and Heineken are hitting the cutting room floor in favor of local goodies in many minibars. It’s a brilliant – and hard to resist – concept. The Ritz-Carlton in Santiago is putting ham-flavored almonds in their offered snack set, which we’d choose any day over Planters peanuts.

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Still other hotels are dumping watery mass-produced beers in favor of regional quaffs – the Hotel Palomar San Francisco offers the locally-brewed, highly-appealing Anchor Steam Beer. An Arizona resort stocks their fridges with Grand Canyon Pilsner.

These locally-sourced, unique products could be just the ticket to get hungry and thirsty travelers to raid the minibar. After all, the fridge four feet away isn’t the problem. It’s the bill after the fact. And believe it or not, bills are high for the hoteliers, too.

That’s because while minibars may seem like major revenue makers for hotels, in reality, they’re loss-leaders, one Hilton executive tells the Journal. Restocking, billing issues, and even theft all cut into the perceived profitability of minibars. But if guests felt they were getting a product that the CVS next door can’t offer, there’d be cheers all around.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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