A minibar is a small refrigerator, typically an absorption refrigerator, in a luxury hotel room. The hotel staff fill it with drinks and snacks for the guest to purchase during their stay. It is stocked with a precise inventory of goods, with a price list. The guest is charged for goods consumed when checking out of the hotel. Some newer minibars use infrared or other automated methods of recording purchases. These detect the removal of an item, and charge the guest's credit card right away, even if the item is not consumed. This is done to prevent loss of product, theft and lost revenue.
The minibar is commonly stocked with small bottles of alcoholic beverages, juice, and other soft drinks. There may also be candy, cookies, crackers, and other small snacks. Prices are generally very high compared to similar items purchased from a store, because the guest is paying for the convenience of immediate access and also the upkeep of the bar. Prices vary, but it is not uncommon for one can of non-alcoholic beverage to cost 6–10 USD.
The world's first minibar was introduced at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel by manager Robert Arnold in 1974. In the months following its introduction in-room drink sales skyrocketed 500%, and the Hong Kong Hilton's overall annual revenue was boosted by 5%. The following year the Hilton group rolled out the minibar concept across all its hotels.
From absorption cooling unit to compressor
Typically the minibar cooling unit was different from standard refrigerators, using absorption technology. An Italian company was the first manufacturer to install a compressor mini-refrigerator in the NASA Space Shuttle in 1982. A compressor refrigeration unit, in addition to a timer and a eutectic plate, allow saving more energy, compared to a traditional absorption minibar.
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