A minibar at the Hotel Lucia in Portland, Oregon, focuses on enhancing the guest experience.
PORTLAND, Oregon—At Hotel Lucia in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find minibar offerings ranging from regular candy bars to locally made vodka to little jars of honey made directly from the beehive on top of the hotel’s roof.
Bashar Wali, principal and president of Provenance Hotels, which owns Hotel Lucia, said the hotel localized its minibar four or five years ago—not for additional revenue purposes, but to help enhance the guest experience by making the minibar “more interesting and more exciting for guests.”
“I think we see more people talking about (the minibar) than purchasing it,” he said. “You might see it more in an (Instagram post). … Nobody is going to Instagram the Snickers bar they found, right? If there’s nothing intriguing or interesting about it, (guests) may do the local piece more than they would the national, international piece.”
Wali said Hotel Lucia’s minibar has three main categories:
1. Boring, everyday stuff
It’s easy to get carried away and make a minibar more creative than it actually needs to be. Wali said it’s important to remember what the purpose of a minibar is.
“No matter how creative we get, the purpose of a minibar is: A road warrior gets in at 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock at night, there’s nothing to eat, they don’t want to bother going out of their room, so they want that big bag of cashews or that Snickers bar. … We always want to have enough of the everyday stuff, the necessities that people want to buy.”
2. Local and necessity items
Alcohol is a minibar staple, but Hotel Lucia found a way to weed out the national-branded alcohol and partner with local producers to feature their products in guestroom minibars.
“The local and the necessities, sometimes go hand-in-hand,” Wali said. “Why have (a national brand of) vodka when there’s a great local artisan who is making local vodka? That’s what we’ve really done in a lot of the hotels, is we’ve gone to those folks and we’ve partnered with them to feature their product, and hopefully not only to satisfy a need (the guest) may have, but maybe encourage (them) to go and check it out while (they’re) here.”
Hotel Lucia’s minibar provides snacks and beverages, but it’s also stocked with a few items that could serve as souvenirs for guests to take home. Minibar souvenirs include: hotel rooftop-made honey and rainwater in a bottle.
“We like to think we’re storytellers … think about the value of when (guests) go home with a jar of honey, something (they) can actually use, that (they) would say came from the hotel (they stayed) at,” Wali said.
The hotel also offers minibar pairing menus to guests, he said.
“So if you are going to eat this candy bar, here’s the best kind of liquor to drink with it,” he said. “It’s all in an effort to create buzz and stories. It is not about making money off of the minibar.”