n 1952, the post-war baby boom had peaked. Thousands of families with young children had settled into the suburbs; the economy was booming, the country was at peace. The station wagon was the vehicle of choice, television had replaced the radio as the family entertainment, and Kemmons Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in Memphis, Tennesee. Children stayed free, there was a swimming pool, air conditioning, an ice machine, and free parking. The cost was $4 per night.|
t the time, this was a revolution in the hospitality industry, serving the "mid-market" with value and consistency. Families needed a safe, clean, moderately-priced place to stay when they piled into their station wagons for vacation.
n a world of McDonalds®, Burger King® and Wendy's®, it makes sense that there would be a backlash against chains such as Holiday Inn and its bigger, more upscale competitors, the Hiltons, the Sheratons, the Radissons.
he "boutique" hotels are the new millennium's answer to the Holiday Inn.
Bedroom at The Diva
courtesy Personality Hotels
outique hotels were born of the need to give GUUPies (Grown Up Urban Professionals) a place to stay that didn't feel like a Holiday Inn, Hilton, or Sheraton. No cookie-cutter dresser/desk/TVstand in wood-grained Formica®. A boutique, usually located in a pleasant mid-city area, has individually furnished rooms and suites, designer soft-goods, and a totally different "feel" from ordinary business or family-oriented properties.
he word "boutique" has such cachet, in fact, that a New York hotel consortium recently changed its name to "Boutique Hotels" from its original Hospitality Hotel Group. Bill Kimpton, the premier hotelier in San Francisco, has started an organization for owners of smaller, non-chain, upscale properties to market their rooms online. The name of this group, of course, is Boutique Lodging International.
hey are everywhere. Kimpton Hotels has opened its Monaco Hotel line in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Chicago, with others to open in Washington, D.C., New York, and Seattle. Ian Schrager, who set the trend for "Cheap Chic" with his New York Paramount Hotel in 1990, has, with his designer Philippe Starck, revamped the Delano in Miami, and redesigned the Mondrian in Beverly Hills.
odeled after the small, family owned and operated European hotels where a guest is... well, just that, a "guest" rather than a "customer," the boutiques have filled a market niche for both the small hotel owner and the customer tired of the ordinary hotel stay. Most of the boutiques have either no restaurant or very limited service, most serve a Continental breakfast, many have "value-added" goodies such as wine and cheese, complimentary all-day cappuccino or espresso, or fruit and cookies. Many, if not most, of the boutiques have rooms designed specifically for two guests. With rare exception, children are typically not encouraged in this environment, although the Hotel Metropolis in San Francisco is a boutique created with children in mind.
Child-Friendly Room at Hotel Metropolis
courtesy Personality Hotels
ince it would be highly unlikely that the targeted guest would choose a property labeled as a "Strip Mall Hotel," there are a lot of pretenders in the field. The term "Boutique Hotel" is popping up in ads in the Sunday paper Travel Sections, in brochures, and on the internet. It doesn't always apply.
Page Two - Characteristics of the Boutiques
Page Three - Finding and Identifying The Boutiques