USA Today: Forget Pringles chips and Snickers bars. Hotels are increasingly replacing mainstream candy, chips, beverages and other mini-bar treats with locally made indulgences.
The 400-room Omni Berkshire hotel, for example, recently decided to replace Pringles in its guest-room mini-bars with chips made on Long Island, the hotel's chief, Peter Strebl, told me. His team has also been meeting with chocolate producers from Long Island and Brooklyn.
"We're going to replace M&Ms with a local chocolate provider," he said.
The go-local trend has been in place at boutique hotels for years, but it's starting to take hold among mainstream chains such as Omni, Hyatt and others - especially in New York. "The world is moving towards more local and organic," Strebl told me.
The push comes as travelers increasingly demand authentic experiences - whether art, soda, beer or snacks - during their hectic travels and hotels eagerly oblige so they can stand out over rivals. Since its opening last July, the Andaz Fifth Avenue - one of Hyatt's upscale boutique hotels - stocked its mini-bars with locally made items such as North Fork Chips and locally made apple cider.
The Hotel Williamsburg, a boutique hotel set to open next month in Brooklyn, N.Y., plans to play up its location throughout the hotel - including in its mini-bars. Expect to find the increasingly ubiquitous North Fork chips, as well as other locally made goodies: Brooklyn Hard Candy, a Malin+Goetz hemp candle, Brooklyn Brewery beer and Hudson single malt whiskey.
At the edgy Maritime Hotel in Chelsea, guests can grab a bag of Martin's Pretzels, a a small New York brand sold just a few blocks away at the Union Square Greenmarket. The Maritime is one of the uber-chic hotels from hotelier Sean McPherson, who's also behind the celeb-filled Bowery, Park and Waverly hotels in New York City.
Not every hotel chain is shunning Pringles, M&Ms and other popular brands. When I stayed at the Hard Rock San Diego, for example, I had my pick of Pop-Tarts, Kit-Kats, Junior Mints and Oreos. (The hotel is at the entrance to San Diego's fun, club-filled Gaslamp Quarter, where people tend to party into the night and come home in the mood to snack.)
Given the broad love affair with Pringles and other standard snacks, I asked Strebl if he thinks the move is a risky one. He said no. "Our feeling is that maybe it will pique peoples' interest. If you see North Fork chips that are organic and have less fat in them, we think people will be more apt to buy," he said.