It used to be easy to succumb to guilty pleasures when traveling. After all, the hotel minibars were stocked with cookies, chips, and sodas, among other things. Not anymore. The healthy-food marketplace has entered this previously untouched zone: organic has come to the hotel minibar.
Marketwatch reports that “hotels and resorts are increasingly stocking minibars with healthier alternatives to traditional high-fat, high-sugar snacks,” which is helpful to the waistlines of travelers as well as the bank accounts of hotel owners and healthy-food providers.
The report notes that Hyatt's Andaz Wall Street in New York stocks organic Clif Bars and Terra plain and vegetable natural chips in its minibars, while the Four Seasons Austin in Texas is testing sales of six “organic, healthy and/or locally-produced products, including peeled mango, ginger tea and nut-and-fruit gluten-free energy bars” this summer. And those two luxury hotel locations aren’t alone.
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health released a study in May that noted that those who take 20 or more trips a month “were more likely to suffer from obesity and other health-related issues,” Marketwatch notes.
“Healthy items can help to enhance revenue for a specific property and be something to set a property apart. You want items that a guest can’t get from a corner store,” said Matthew Jones, director of West Coast operations for In-Room West, a subsidiary of In-Room Plus which stocks minibars in hundreds of hotels nationwide and globally (and has just signed a deal with Dylan's Candy Bar to add gourmet candy to its inventory).
Indeed, Columbia University and other university and college campus are trying to get healthier, too. At least one company is looking to upgrade the on-campus version of the minibar — the vending machine — with healthier snack options.
A press release today from Fresh Healthy Vending notes that its climate-controlled, junk food alternative vending machines (at top) are now in more than 600 campus locations throughout the US.
“The ability to put a healthy vending machine on campus is essential,” explains Jolly Backer, the CEO of Fresh Healthy Vending, which specializes in vending machines that are stocked with better-for-you options. “It gives kids and college students access to quick, convenient foods that are also packed with the nutrition they need.”
According to the release, schools have the opportunity "to earn a portion from all sales and to offer snacks to their student body."
The goal is that the vending machines — which sell items including bottled water, all-natural cereal bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, tea, and yogurt, in addition to "other healthy food options that range from soymilk to baked chips and 100-percent fruit juices" from brands including Kashi, Stonyfield and popchips— will help make the collective, and individual, student body healthier.
“Children and college students usually eat on campus, or at least want a snack while they are there,” stated Backer, whose machines are also placed in other sites including medical centers and shopping malls. “Making sure they have access to nutritious foods that are convenient is a good thing to do, and it can be an important tool in helping win the fight against childhood obesity.”