Some might say that boutique hotels are dead, and others will argue that the business is very much alive. Here’s why I think it’s the latter.
“Boutique hotels are dead!”
“Long live boutique hotels!”
I hear both proclamations all the time. So, which is it?
In today’s ever-changing landscape of hotels, we must recall the origin of “boutique” properties, and acknowledge the changes that have been made for the new paradigm of what the term represents today.
Originally, a boutique property was bespoke and unique, with highly personalized service. These accommodation jewels were set in wonderful locations ranging from coastal towns, villages and islands, to fashionable urban locations and vineyards. People delighted in the sense of place, culture and highly personalized service, and felt as if they were the only guests. They were pampered as all their needs, wants and expectations were met, and exceeded. The food, wine, and handcrafted cocktails were incredible. And delicious innovations such as farm-to-table and locally sourced products were paramount.
Successful boutique properties appealed to all five senses, offering much more than simply a place to stay. They offered experiences that stayed with guests long after they had checked out.
The boutique concept gained significant traction when soft brands such as Small Luxury Hotels and Relais & Châteaux grew in numbers with owners of boutique properties. These soft brands represented a collection of quality hotels ranging in size from 10 rooms to usually a max of 100. Each property had a distinctive individuality and character and was not part of a major chain. The soft brands spread the good word about their boutique accommodations and offered greater distribution to the world’s discerning travelers.
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