Nearly every morning I wake up to an email about a new boutique hotel opening. These hotels are opening all across Africa, Latin America, Mexico and even closer to home here in the United States.
But what does Boutique Hotel really even mean? Google the term to see for yourself that there is no succinct, widely-accepted definition. And why are we seeing such activity in the space?
As the chatter grows louder about all things boutique, here are three reasons why I think 2014 is turning out to be the year of the Boutique Hotel.
We’re getting close to a true definition.
Ok, we may not have a good definition for boutique hotels yet, but we’re getting close. All of a sudden everyone wants to be a boutique hotel. “We have seen an emerging trend of boutique hotels,” says Loisse Herger with the O:live Boutique Hotel in Puerto Rico, a beautiful beachfront hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “Little inns are now calling their properties boutique hotels vs. guest houses. We’re also seeing new hotels opening here in Puerto Rico on the boutique hotel concept.”
What does the boutique hotel concept really mean? Does boutique just mean small? While the term boutique hotel has NOT been well defined to date, I believe that the boutique hotel concept is much more than size of property. Sure, the boutique hotel concept involves small properties, but these properties are also intimate, private, often owner-operated, with a bit of luxury in the mix.
Overall, it’s a way of separating these small and special hotels from the big chains. They don’t want to be like the big guys, and increasingly travelers don’t want them to be either!
One thing you can generally expect from boutique hotels is more affordability when compared to larger luxury hotel chains.
Take, for example, the O:live Boutique Hotel priced at a very reasonable $279 per night for a stay in May 2014. Compare this to Puerto Rico’s newest luxury resort, the Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton at $799 per night for the same dates. As the global economy emerges from down times, a new-found frugality among travelers worldwide may very well be driving this trend towards affordable luxury.
Independent vs. Chain-operated Competition is heating up.
As the idea of boutique hotels becomes more in-demanded by travelers around the world, big brands are also getting in on the action, and this is where things start to get interesting. Take for example Design Hotels, German-based membership-based marketing organization for boutique hotels with hundreds of hotels in their portfolio all over the world. By offering marketing and distribution support for hotels around the world, small boutique hotels are able to realize greater reach and higher occupancy. I expect to see more sophisticated marketing and distribution of the world’s best independent hotels,
Because we are seeing independently-run boutique hotels competing side by side with chain-operated and marketed boutique hotels, we’re seeing some exciting advances in attracting travelers and creating the most memorable experiences.
Are you a boutique hotel lover? Or more of a big brand luxury hotel traveler?
All photos courtesy O:live Boutique Hotel.