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R.I.P. the minibar

R.I.P. the minibar

In 1974 Hilton Hotels began the trend and in 2013, Hilton Hotels are leading its demise. It's been a great source of comfort for business travellers with expense accounts for 40 years, but it appears it's time for hotel owners and guests alike to say goodbye to the minibar.

A recent article in The Independent reported that they've become more trouble than they're worth, thanks to the recession and the closer scrutiny of expense accounts. Minibars require a lot of work to maintain and theft has always been a problem, so many chains, such as Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt Hilton, are now scrapping them altogether.

It’s reported that guests are getting thoroughly fed up with them anyway, mainly through having to prove they didn't use them. Hotels are now using infrared sensors to check up on how much guests use them; the sensors detect when an item has been moved in the minibar and automatically charges it to the room. However, as comments on Trip Advisor testify, this isn't exactly a popular move: “Mini bar items on a motion sensor - we accidentally knocked over a water and ended up getting charged $5!” and “Get rid of 'automatic' mini bar.”

In New Zealand, there may also be legal reasons for the minibar's demise. 3News reported that changes in licensing laws will mean that from 18 December 2013, it will be illegal to sell alcohol between 4am and 8am. Tourism Industry Association hotel sector manager Rachael Shadbolt told 3News: "It's impossible - we couldn't knock on the door at 4 o'clock in the morning and say just a friendly reminder, don't use the mini-bars”; which led her to speculate that minibars will be removed altogether.

American travel journalist Peter Greenberg reassures anxious guests that room service is too valuable to go, so you'll still be able to order food and drinks to be brought to your room. Indeed, some hotels are introducing mobile apps and loaning iPads so that you can order food without even having to pick up the phone. Other hotels are leaving empty fridges in the rooms so that guests can buy their own drinks and snacks at the local supermarket. Other chains have moved the snacks and drinks out into the open, leaving chocolate bars or bottles of wine on a table in the hope that guests won't be able to resist what's in full view.

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Are Local Ales Making a Comeback?

Are Local Ales Making a Comeback?

Although over 18 pubs close their doors for good every week in the UK, there has simultaneously been a quiet revolution brewing up across the country. Real ale, especially those locally brewed and distributed has experienced a foamy renaissance in the past couple of years, with the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) reporting an increase in sales for the first time in 20 years in 2012.

Whilst the BBC reported in December 2012 that over 450 pubs had closed in Britain since the beginning of March that year, it appears that Britons across the country, but especially in the capital, have been slaking their thirst with the great proliferation of fine cask ales which have swept across London. But what is it about British ale that has made it suddenly so much more popular, and if it is indeed experiencing a comeback, why now?

"London Calling"
Towards the end of last year,
the BBC reported on the progress of Logan Plant, Robert Plant's son, and co-owner of the ever-popular Beavertown Brewery in London. Beavertown is just one of the 30 active breweries running in the capital; where there were just seven in 2006, there are now more than there have been since the 1930s.

Signalling both a change in tastes and lifestyles, the local brewery boom combines the type of foodie revolution which was typical of pre-crash London with a post-crash economic tightening of the purse strings. The pinnacle of that revolution was the overwhelming popularity of Borough Market in South London, a focus on organic vegetables, and 'slow food'. The mantra was 'quality, quality, quality'.

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Britain's Five Oldest Pubs


Trying to prove which is Britain’s oldest pub is a little difficult – many have been in operation for hundreds of years as hostelries or breweries but have only been recognised as ‘pubs’ in modern times. Every county boasts a selection of remote and creaking taverns, many claiming to be ‘Britain’s Oldest Inn’. Unfortunately the self-bestowed authority that this brings is notoriously hard to prove, but there are several pubs of indisputable vintage.

1) Old Ferryboat, Holywell

One such pub is the whitewashed, thatched Old Ferryboat in Holywell, Cambridgeshire, which stands by the banks of the Great Ouse and lays claim to a foundation date of 560. This is improbable, as the events of the year 560 are poorly recorded due to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the gradual evolution of Anglo-Saxon England. Although there was probably a structure on this site, a more reliable date for the pub’s foundation is put at around 1100.

At this time England was under the rule of King Henry I, son of William the Conqueror, who faced opposition in the Cambridgeshire fens from Saxon resistance fighter called Hereward the Wake. The Old Ferryboat was rebuilt around 1400AD, and this is the most reliable indication of the age of the current structure, which is still venerable by any estimate.

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7 of the Best Alcohols From Around Europe

7 of the Best Alcohols From Around Europe

One of the features of European culture that attracts visitors the most is the fine food and drink. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, in particular, several regions in Europe are justifiably famous for their products. The expertise used in the creation of these drinks means that their taste and quality is unrivalled.

Scottish Whisky
Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for centuries, and nowadays various brands are exported all around the world. There are distilleries all over the country, most notably in the Highlands and Islands, which also serve as tourist attractions. Visitors can see how whisky is created, as well as getting a chance to taste a sample. Whisky will taste different according to how it has been produced and for how long it has been aged, but in general Scottish Whisky has a delicious, smoky flavour.

French Champagne
Only sparkling wine that originates from the Champagne region of northern France can truly be called champagne. Vineyards in the region have been fermenting sparkling wine for hundreds of years, and there are several types of grapes used to produce the variety of champagnes that are available today. Rosé, or pink, champagne is very popular, and any champagne labelled as cuvée is from a premium crop of grapes. The sweetness of champagne will affect its taste, and classification can range from ultra Brut with very little sugar, to Doux, which is very sweet.

Italian Wine
Italy is the largest wine producer in the world. The country is home to many vineyards, most notably in the Tuscany region where the soil and climate is perfect for growing grapes. Wine was extremely popular in ancient Roman times, and remains so with modern Italian drinkers. Today's vineyards use hundreds of different grape varieties to expertly produce a range of high quality wines, both white and red.

Spanish Sangria
Sangria is a sweet, wine based alcoholic drink that is usually served as a punch containing chopped fruits. It is drunk throughout Spain, and, because of that country's prevalence as a tourist destination, sangria is now extremely popular with people from around the world. At bars and restaurants throughout Spain sangria is served to tourists and locals alike in abundance.

Greek Ouzo
Ouzo is a world famous product of Greece, and many tourists take bottles of the alcoholic drink home as souvenirs. It is an aniseed flavoured drink that is traditionally served before meals. There are many places throughout Greece where ouzo is produced, with the island of Lesbos being one of the main contributors to the national output.

Czech Absinthe
Absinthe is believed to have originated in Switzerland however the Czech capital of Prague has become famous for the drink. There are many bars in the city catering to tourists with a thirst for this beverage with its extremely high alcohol content. Absinthe is a green spirit which has a famous history. It was thought of as being dangerous to drink in the early twentieth century, and was banned in several countries. Thankfully, present day absinthe is well regulated, and makes up an important part of the Czech Republic's tourism industry.

German Beer
The Germans love their beer so much that they devote festivals to it, the most famous of which is Oktoberfest. There are several brands native to the country, many of which are popular in foreign markets. A visitor to any German city such as Berlin or Munich will have a range of delicious beers to choose from, including pale and dark varieties. German beers differ in alcohol content, but they all come from breweries with a high level of brewing expertise.

No trip to these European countries would be complete without sampling the delicious local produce on offer. Indeed, there are many
European tour packages which specifically include visits to vineyards or alcohol festivals because of their key role in local culture. In many cases the techniques for creating these alcoholic drinks have been perfected over hundreds of years. The result is a selection of alcoholic drinks that are truly exceptional in their quality and taste.

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7 steps to open your own bar

7 steps to open your own bar

In today’s market, with the ever increasing popularity of spending nights out on the town, running a pub is as much an art as it is a business. If you don’t know what you are doing then it is easy to be overwhelmed early on. That is why we have created this simple seven step guide to opening and running a successful pub. If you believe your dreams of owning your own pub deserve to become a reality, then by reading this you have already taken your first step. 

Now without further ado:

Step One: Concept

I know you must be eager to start already, but those who rush in are sure to fail. The first thing you need to do is research. You can dream all you like, but if you don’t have a solid knowledge of the real pub world then you are going nowhere. You will need to know what has already been done, what is popular, the types of pub out there, themes, what has worked, and what has failed. Build a mind map of all these things and use it to form your own ideas. Don’t feel bad about taking someone else’s idea and improving on it, it’s a competitive market.

Step Two: Location and Premises

Now you have your idea and you’ve refined it a bit, it’s time to find your pub. Shop around for a good building, with a location that fits your ideas. For example if you want to run a pub for university students to come and blow their student loans on, you don’t want to put it in the middle of farmland. The most successful pubs can be found near the sea to bring in the tourists, near universities to bring in the students, or on the high street to get a more rounded clientele. These are strategic places to have a pub because it makes sense to have it there, if you were looking for a pub where would you look first?

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The Pros And Cons Of Running A Pub

The Pros And Cons Of Running A Pub

Running or owning a public house is a lifelong dream for many, and providing it is entered into with one's eyes wide open there's no reason why it shouldn't be a success. If you're the kind of person who has great social skills, dedication and ideas then you may well be attracted to the idea of running a public house. Like any venture there are drawbacks and risks involved when it comes to starting up a pub venture but the rewards can be great and the feeling of providing happiness and entertainment for a vast array of customers whilst being at the heart of a community can be numerous.

Invest wisely

Owning the establishment itself is an attractive option for a number of reasons. Whilst managers who don't own the business can be awarded vast bonuses for success, actually owning the business provides total independence, though a large amount of capital will need to be in place for not only buying the pub itself but for maintaining it and making it your own during the initial months.

There are also great financial risks involved if your venture is not a success and you could lose a vast sum of money. That said, successful pubs generally provide large profits for their owners, and if you also provide food for your patrons the profit margins can be extremely generous, with the profits being made from the outset.

Being respected

If you're thinking of buying a pub but really want to make it your own, you'll have to invest a considerable amount of cash to get it just right. Of course, to make it a success you'll have to provide a pub that appeals to your potential clientele and ensure that there's a market for it.

Alongside this, you'll need to build a rapport with your customers right away - particularly if they enjoyed a strong connection to the previous owner and staff. Engaging with your inherited customers will help you get off on the right footing and enable them to accept you for who you are - although you'll have to earn their respect and show them who is boss, albeit in a firm and friendly manner. You'll also need to keep up with pub trends and listen to your customers, and dedicate yourself to catering for them.

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