Virgin billionaire Richard Branson is encouraging midnight snacking with his latest move - he's eradicated marked-up minibar prices from his newly opened Chicago hotel, instead offering all the snacks for the same prices you'd find on the street. And as usual, he means business: Branson sent the hotel's food and beverage manager on a mission to scour the city's stores in search of the cheapest snacks to formulate their price list. Their minibar menu now matches those prices exactly, so guests pay US$1 for a packet of Peanut M&M's, for instance, and US$24 for a bottle of wine.
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While this is good news for our wallets, we're worried for our waistlines - until now, the only thing between us and the mixed nuts and Twix bars was the exorbitant price tag. Branson's move is likely to compel other hotels to follow suit -according to research by PKF Hospitality, minibar sales have plunged in recent years, leading to many hotels removing theirs altogether.
The cheap-as-chips minibar isn't the only perk at Branson's Virgin Hotel Chicago - there's also free WIFI (hard to find stateside), a rooftop bar and all rooms have a separate dressing room.