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Beware Of Hotel Minibars

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

Travel made affordable through the careful review of cheap travel options, including cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages, need not go over budget through purchases made at hotel minibars.

Tiny hotel refrigerators that come with sensors seemingly able to detect and charge guests just for looking at overpriced Pringles or chilled Cokes are starting to disappear.

During recent hotel renovations hotel minibars were taken out of a growing number of hotels. For example, when the New Orleans Hilton Riverside upgraded its guest rooms in 2012, minibars were discontinued and replaced by regular refrigerators.

Minibars became unpopular in part because of the expense of what they offered. Anyone trying to make a meal out of minibar offerings could easily spend upwards of $100. Minibar markups tend to be steep, charging as much as $7 for a bottle of water that could be purchased elsewhere for $1.

Further exasperation has been felt by hotel guests who have discovered that when they leave empty soda cans in trash cans in their rooms that sometimes they are charged by the hotel for the soda. Often “mistaken” minibar charges are incurred that must be identified and disputed at the time a guest checks out.

Business travelers have found that many employers are not willing to pay their outrageous minibar expenses.

Interestingly most hotels no longer like minibars. Hotels discontinuing this “amenity” claim they are doing so because minibars are too much trouble and do not make enough money, despite ridiculously high markups.

Hotel minibars tend to be a source of endless guest complaints. The expense of snacks and beverage coupled with the hassle of restocking minibars often results in a drain on a hotel’s profits.

Even using sensors does not prevent some items from being consumed but not paid for. Hotels almost always assume a guest is telling the truth when claiming that they did not take items out of minibars that sensors indicate were removed. Some dishonest guests remove the top from bottles that are stored on their sides in refrigerators without removing bottles from the unit. They then pour the contents into glasses thereby circumventing the sensor.

Even though select hotels have started adding healthier options to their minibars, most still exclusively stock junk food.

Some cities have de facto bans on minibars because they restrict the sale of alcohol which prevents minibars from turning a profit.
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