By Jonathan Kelly
Three-figure champagne and $12 mini-bottles of scotch? What else would you expect from the room bar in the Upper East Side’s fabled Carlyle hotel? Let food and beverage director Guillermo Guevara explain.
BLACKBOOK: As far as minibars go, yours seems fairly populist.
GUILLERMO GUEVARA: It’s nice to have a balance of highly priced items and important brands, but to also have items that are more affordable and don’t represent luxury.
BB: How much does the minibar change from your ordinary rooms to your most exclusive tower suites?
GG: Some of our suites have a bit of an upgrade in terms of wine. They also carry bottles of Chateau Montalana Cabernet Sauvignon and very exclusive champagnes such as Dom Perignon and Cristal.
BB: How often do you alternate the wines you offer?
GG: We certainly try to stick with familiar labels and the most renowned brands. Our clientele is made up of the most traditional, elegant people that want to entertain guests with a Dom or a Cristal. They may not want something new from Napa Valley that is perhaps delicious and a better value, but one they haven’t seen before.
BB: You represent a lot of the traditional liquor brands here, but I notice there’s no tequila.
GG: We don’t have a lot of labels that a W or more edgy hotel would have. We don’t have tequila in the room. But we do have Bacardi.
BB: What are your best-selling items?
GG: Fiji Water. Then Diet Coke (which we sell twice as much as we sell Coke). Our best-selling liquor brands are Ketel One, Tanqueray, Absolut, and Stolichnaya.
BB: What are your best-selling snacks?
GG: Pringles and Snickers. Probably because the brands are so well known. No matter where you’re from, a Snickers is a Snickers. But our main candy suppliers are Dean & Deluca and Dylan’s [Dylan Lauren’s, daughter of Ralph, candy brand]. It’s local, and of interest to people who aren’t from New York.
BB: Minibar purchase sometimes cause a little kerfuffle when guests check out. How do you handle that?
GG: At the end of the day, the customer is always right. If he or she were to check out and tell us there was something he didn’t consume, we’d be glad to take that item off their check. We have very high-profile customers, and we don’t want to lose that relationship over a Snickers bar or a Gatorade.