Three Easy Solutions in Updating Historical Properties into Boutique Hotels
By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | October 28, 2008
When travelers choose to stay in boutique hotels, they're forgoing the familiarity afforded by national chains. Whereas chain and franchise hotels offer consistency from market to market, boutique hotels build their reputations on difference. A traveler booking a room in a boutique hotel is banking on a unique, unforgettable experience. One of the key ways hoteliers develop stand out boutiques is by investing in design. D'ecor is a key factor for a boutique hotel trying to rise above the crowd and heighten the sense that the traveler has escaped from everyday.
Developers of boutique hotels are experts in leveraging design to create unique guest experiences. Historic hotels are perfectly poised for redevelopment as boutique hotels, and they offer that something extra that guests seek. Don't be afraid to invest in a historical property, especially if it's designated a landmark. The design challenges inherent to historical properties are surmountable, and even the most dilapidated properties can be restored to glory. The end result is a modern hotel infused with a narrative, and the cachet of staying in a historical property can make for an unforgettable guest experience. When you embrace a hotel's past and restore its glamour, guests feel the magic.
InterContinental Hotels Group is participating in the evolution of boutique hotels, and the redevelopment of the 175 room Hotel Cass - Mag Mile on Wabash Avenue in Chicago is a perfect example of how modern hoteliers are using design solutions to create stand-out boutique hotels out of historical properties.
The Hotel Cass first opened its doors in 1927 and is one of the last original buildings along the stretch of Wabash Avenue between the Chicago River and Erie Street to be redeveloped. Maintaining the integrity of the building's historic 1920s Beaux Arts facade was a key driver during the hotel's renovation in 2006 through its opening in the fall of 2007. Today's Hotel Cass is a Holiday Inn Express and features the customized look travelers expect from boutique hotels with the standard of service associated with a Holiday Inn Express.
How can other hotels follow the example of Hotel Cass to repurpose a historic property into a new, on-trend boutique hotel?
Blend vintage and new elements to create a one-of-a-kind hotel. A traveler's first experience of the Hotel Cass is its formal, limestone entrance, complete with black granite cornerstone detailed flooring. As guests move to private spaces, the d'ecor becomes more contemporary. The hotel's entire mood changes as the color palette shifts from blacks, neutrals, and reds to layered white tones with metallic accents. Even the guest bathrooms blend old and new by layering ornate wall covering and vintage-inspired subway tiles with modern rainfall showerheads. Contemporary furniture mixed with antique pieces sends a clear signal to guests they're staying in a modern boutique hotel, located in a historic setting, giving them the best of both worlds at every turn.