I am often asked what a boutique hotel is. I work for a boutique hotel brand, The Apeejay Surrendra Park hotels Ltd. That operates a collection of luxury boutique hotels by the brand name, The Park and also manage The Zone by the Park hotels. Its a question that comes from the students or the new joinees during their induction program. Thought of putting all the information that I generally share with them on this blog and next time I need people to read up about Boutique hotels I shall refer them here. A bit of personal interest but I am sure everyone will like visiting this in case they need to tell people or guests about these hotels. Here, I am visualizing the sales or the front office teams. Also students of Hospitality will find it useful. Hope you find it informative if not interesting!
Boutique - according to the dictionery definition
1 a : a small fashionable specialty shop or business
1 b : a small shop within a large department store
2 : a small company that offers highly specialized services (an independent investment boutique)
Boutique hotels are described as personalized, customized, unique, and individual. The most important defining features of boutique hotels are cultural, historical, authenticity; the boutique hotel is not part of a chain and that it provides interesting, unique services. Other important defining descriptors of boutique hotels include, “social spaces such as living rooms, libraries with social rooms” and “many, high-quality in‐room features””. - The Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association.
A boutique hotel is an intimate, design-led property which distinguishes itself from larger chain hotels by providing guests with ultra-personalized service and accommodation. In fact the properties are so different that even if the company owns more than hotel, they don't call themselves a chain but a collection of luxury boutique hotels. There are unique set of characteristics that define a boutique hotel.
There are two branches of Boutique Hotels: Boutique Hotels in city destinations, and Boutique Hotels in resort destinations. The Boutique Hotel in city destination is not only visited because of its convenient location, but also because of it being the city’s fashion destination. Historically, the most common locations of the Boutique Hotels were London, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles etc that easily fitted into the fashion destinations.
Technology is an important attribute of a city boutique Hotel. It could be technology used to emotionally connect the guest with the hotel, like music and light, or it could be technology for the guests’ convenience, such as computers with high-speed internet, cordless phones, DVD players, and flascreen or smart televisions.
Also, there are boutique hotels in resort destinations, which generally are located in hidden places, like islands or mountains. Unlike the ones in city destinations, technology is not strictly necessary in the resort destinations. Instead, exotic amenities as well as unique and personalized services are the core competence of the resort destinations. They commonly replace the absence of electronics with spas, yoga, meditation or painting classes and creating connection to the environment so as to promote their guest's comfort.
Established in 1981, both the Clarion Bedford Hotel in San Francisco and Blakes London, with its fabulous interiors conceived by celebrity designer Anouska Hempel, are recognized as two of the earliest boutique hotels in the world.
The person credited for inventing the “boutique hotel” concept is the American entrepreneur and hotelier Ian Schrager, who, together with his business partner Steve Rubell, opened the Morgans Hotel on Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York in 1984. It was then when Steve told the media: “Hotels are like department stores. They’re trying to be all things to all people. This is different. It’s like a boutique”.
Boutique hotels are generally known to be perfect and small chic little places which have a common characteristic of the less formal charm that they all seem to be bringing in an air of differentiation in their products and services. The "Morgans" looked fairly strange and unique, and was nothing like the 'big - boy' hotels, who had a domineering presence in the hotel industry. Schrager and Rubell obtained the services of popular Parisian designer Andree Putman to come up with the interiors, so that, during the beginnings, the boutique hotel had a dash of American and European flavor. The main features, however, were the independence of the design and its uniqueness.
“A hotel with a point of view ” ~ Ian Schrager
This type of lodging facility gains its uniqueness through aesthetics, atmosphere, and a level of personalized service that just can’t be found in larger establishments. Therefore, the size is another important feature of a boutique hotel, and bigger is not necessarily better!
Architecture and design
Style, distinction, warmth and intimacy are the key words in the architecture and design of boutique hotels. Emphasing Out of the box designs and using unique themes such as the Library hotel in New York. they are very chic.
The décor plays a major role in adding the right amount of individuality and setting a thoughtful ambiance throughout a boutique hotel. High-quality materials, designer furnishings, and quirky touches are often used to create a memorable visual experience, while bespoke amenities like a generous pillow menu, plush baths, or handmade organic toiletries contribute to an atmosphere of comfort and luxury.
Another common characteristic of these exclusive accommodations is the great attention to detail. A true boutique hotel will always take time to style its rooms individually, and to incorporate bespoke art and locally-sourced materials in the interior decoration. And also choose the finest linens and freshest food ingredients to be used in their hotels.
They are not just design empasised and theme based hotels but also the services are unique. The staff displays a very friendly, relaxed yet professional attitude. There is emphasis on entertainment in terms of music, drama and art that the entire atmosphere appears to be theatrical.
The main traget group for the boutique hotels guests in the age group 20 to 50 years. Belonging mostly to the mid and upper income groups. The hotels are easily address of choice of designers, entrepreneurs, media, fashion and leisure travelers.
When it comes to staying in a hotel, one demands relaxation, convenience and luxury that can add comfort to their holiday. Hotels in India offer all of that along with hospitality that is exclusive to Indian culture. Apart from the huge 5 star hotels there are many budget hotels in India. When talking about budget hotels and the other segment, boutique hotels are much in demand. They offer the same luxury, comfort and convenience that is experienced in high priced luxury hotels with their own style of service or products. Boutique hotels are common and popular in western countries; however, this concept has recently gained momentum in India. Boutique hotels cater to all requirements of their guests, giving them a memorable stay without really costing them a fortune. Initial boutique hotels in India were in metropolitan cities or at popular resort or spa destinations but now they are moving even to tier two or tier three cities.
Boutique hotels are in ever-growing demand by travelers seeking hospitality experiences that are unique and distinctly different. Be it for a special occasion like a honeymoon or an anniversary, or just for the fun of it, you're bound to find something very different!
The Park Hotels was the first Indian hotel brand and to come up with boutique concept in India but today there are many boutique hotels. Even some of the large hotel chains with popular luxury hotels are opening their boutique segment.