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Mark Nogal

Travelers more than ever are looking for distinctive, "Instagrammable" hotels that deliver authentic, local experiences. To meet that desire, the soft-brand hotel segment continues to evolve. Recognizing this trend, five years ago, Curio Collection by Hilton launched to provide guests with a boutique-style experience supported by a leading hospitality company, Hilton. The word "curio" refers to a rare or intriguing object, perfectly capturing the essence behind the brand and its hotels. In this article, Mark Nogal, global head, Curio Collection by Hilton, explores how the brand serves curious travelers with its diverse portfolio of independent, one-of-a-kind properties in premier destinations. Read on...

Rocco Bova

It has been a long journey for boutique hotels. In the last 40 years (or so), this concept has dramatically changed the landscape of standard, box-type hotels selling average experiences and mostly clean rooms and hot breakfast. The disruption continues with the birth of similar-ish concepts that have evolved as well as how they are perceived around the world. I have followed this phenomenon for many years now and I hope you will enjoy my point of view and insights on this topic. Read on...

Pamela Barnhill

Years ago, when I was a teenager studying economics in London, I occasionally traveled around Europe with my friends. It was there that I first encountered boutique hotels. To me, the boutique hotel has always been about personality and discovery, things that really matter when you and your friends travel on about $30 a day. It would be years before the concept took root in the States. But in Europe and Asia, it's been routine. While Europe has changed over the last 20 years, and amenities have standardized there as everywhere else to satisfy visitors from all over our ever smaller planet, hoteliers in the States still seem afraid of being funky, afraid to make changes in their approach to the increasingly sophisticated global traveler. Read on...

Steven Marx

It is clear that the boutique/lifestyle hotel niche is longer occupied by just a handful of rogue, counter cultural hoteliers. The evolution of lifestyle hotels from a very small, extremely specialized industry segment, to its current status as one of the fastest growing product types, has been nothing short of astounding. It is sometimes debated who actually was the pioneer who developed the first of what has become generally known as contemporary boutique hotels, in the United States. But clearly, the concept did not come from the mainstream hotel industry. Depending on to whom you talk, Ian Schrager, starting with Morgan's Hotel in New York, gets the credit; others will say that Bill Kimpton was the founder, converting broken down old small hotels in San Francisco into "gems", with "hot" restaurants next door. Read on...

Brenda Fields

Boutique hotels are a relatively new concept to the hotel industry. Until the early 90s, the standard model had typically been a large full-service hotel with numerous banquet and meeting rooms. The large size and its economies of scale, helped insure greater profitability. Along came the concept of boutique hotels which was contrary to that formula. The typical boutique hotel is less than 100 guest rooms, limited service, zero to one boardroom, and any food and beverage outlets are generally outsourced. The emphasis in boutique hotels is on selling guest rooms (where the profit margins are significantly higher than in banquets and meetings) by enticing a guest with its high design, the promise of a unique experience, and lower rates. Read on...

Brenda Fields

Technology has brought numerous advantages to conducting business, including servicing existing customers and in reaching new markets. But as a service industry, it is important to ensure that technology is used to enhance guest satisfaction, especially in the case of free-standing boutique hotels. One key factor that differentiates boutique hotels from large or chain affiliated hotels is its personalized service. Therefore, in order to benefit from the many applications of technology (i.e. reducing expenses, generating demand, and increasing guest satisfaction), and to simultaneously maintain the personalized services characteristic of boutique hotels, it is important for owners and managers to re-think and evaluate the following key areas... Read on...

Brenda Fields

Small, independent hotels have the added challenge of limited marketing resources as they are typically established as a percentage of revenues. Therefore, each dollar spent and each strategy implemented must be efficient and produce the greatest ROI. This article addresses the key components to establish a plan; how to effectively evaluate its effectiveness; and how and when to change course, without "knee-jerk reactions". Read on...

Jeffrey Catrett

The full-line producers like Marriott, Intercontinental, Starwood, Hilton and Hyatt may be thinking that they simply need to have one or more product offerings with features appropriate to Generation X or the emerging Generation Y, preventing competitors from nicheing away market-share or new entrants from gaining a foothold. What may be escaping the attention of many of these companies is that the boutique revolution very likely means a whole new way of doing business in the hospitality field. Read on...

Steven Marx

The industry, as well as the hotel rating agencies and internet intermediaries, have managed to create a sufficient number of "classes" of hotels to not only confuse their guests, but the hotel companies themselves. And depending on to whom you talk, everyone has a different interpretation of what each of these classes mean. Then you add in 4-star, 4-diamond vs 3-star/diamond; we toss those ratings around when describing properties, not even referring to their "official" rating by Mobil and AAA. How many of us have fought with Priceline.com about their classification of our hotels, which directly affect a significant amount of potential revenue? And then we come to boutique hotels; the confusion around what classifies a boutique hotel makes the issue with "conventional" hotels look like a walk in the park. Read on...

Matthew Rosenberger

Today the hospitality industry is dominated by a handful of large international hotel chains. Like other industries, consumers continue to look to recognizable brands for comfort, value, dependability and quality. Learning to "go local" and break away from "corporate uniformity" does not mean abandoning the value of a national reservation and incentive program, but it does require an understanding that, in today's market, appearing to be part of a "larger enterprise" is not always the most effective way to increase market share in the industry. A combination of marketing that includes utilization of branding programs and corporate good will, with more personalized local services and unique experiences, is necessary. Read on...

John Tess

In the day, Portland, Oregon's downtown was home to a cluster of downtown department stores. With names as Rhodes, Olds, Wortman & King, and Lipman, Wolfe & Company, these were the local versions of retail giants as Gimbels, Macy's, Carson Pirie Scott and Marshall Field. The retail concept was simple - they sold everything and anything that customers would buy. Clothes, shoes, toys, sporting goods, furniture - even boats and bagels! They marketed themselves as THE destination for the 20th century woman including style shows, tea rooms and special events. Thanks to American ingenuity, women in this era enjoyed new found leisure but American family values did not permit entrance to the workplace. In Portland, the grand dame of the genre was the Meier & Frank Store. It was a conglomeration of three buildings on a single block: The first built in 1909, the second in 1915 and the third in 1932. Read on...

Didi Lutz

Let's face it, boutique hotels have their work cut out for them when they start out, rebrand or renovate. As we've explored in the past, a big part of a boutique hotel's success is left in Marketing and Public Relations. And while both are mutually exclusive disciplines, they often times work well together to provide a more integrated approach for overall success. We all know that in the first six to eighteen months of a hotel's opening, the buzz that is created helps feed news, media curiosity and guests who decide to stay a night or two by taking advantage of your promotional introductory rate. But what are the key elements in play that make your boutique hotel more distinguished -- a description that will last over time? How do we sustain the almighty Word of Mouth? Read on...

Steven Marx

The hot topic at every hotel conference over the last year has been "financing"; i.e., how to get it! It is clear that the credit crisis has now infiltrated and affected literally every industry that requires real estate financing, from residential to hospitality. So what hope do we boutique hotel developers have if more "conventional" hotels are running into trouble? Well, with a lot of ingenuity, collaboration, talent, friends in high places, a compelling project, and, of course, at least a "sliver" equity capability, boutique hotels can be developed. Read on...

Matthew Rosenberger

If you want to know how to use OTCs to your advantage take a close hard look at your own website. Once you understand that the combination of your website and the customer service you provide cannot be matched by OTCs you will have the tools necessary to implement marketing strategies to reach the lucrative family travel market effectively and actually use the OTCs to your advantage. Read on...

Jane Renton

If "Location, location, location" applies to all hotels, an even more relevant adage for boutique properties might be "Service, service, service." When you have no grand ballroom, less than 100 rooms, no health spa and fitness center and only one restaurant, you don't "make do" and apologize, you make the guests love you. It's all about the guest experience, and that is all about the quality of hotel-customer interaction. It is also about knowing who your guests - and potential guests - are. Of course, it's very nice if you also have an ideal location and convenient access to some facilities more typical of a larger hotel. Read on...

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Coming up in July 2019...

Hotel Spa: Pursuing Distinction

The Wellness Movement continues to evolve and hotel spas continue to innovate in order to keep pace. Fueled by intense competition within the industry, hotel spas are seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves in the market. An increasing number of customers are searching for very specific, niche treatments that address their particular health concerns and, as a result, some leading spas have achieved distinction by offering only one specialized treatment. Meditation and mindfulness practices are becoming increasingly mainstream as are alternative treatments and therapies, such as Ayurvedic therapies, Reiki, energy work and salt therapy. Some spas specialize in stress management and offer lifestyle coaching sessions as part of their program.  Other spas are fully embracing new technologies as a way to differentiate themselves, such as providing wearable devices that track health and fitness biomarkers, or robots programmed with artificial intelligence to control spa environments, or virtual reality add-ons that transport guests to relaxing places around the world. Some spas have chosen to specialize in medical procedures such as liposuction, laser skin therapy, phototherapy facials, Botox and facial fillers, acupuncture and permanent hair removal, in addition to cosmetic body shaping procedures and  teeth whitening treatments. Similarly, other spas are offering comprehensive health check-ups and counseling services for those who are interested in disease prevention treatments. Finally, as hotel spas continue to become more diverse, accessible and specialized, there is a growing demand for health professionals with a specific area of expertise. There is a proliferation of top class, quality wellness practitioners who make a name for themselves by offering their services around the globe, including athletes, chefs, doctors, physical trainers and weight loss specialists. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.