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ust because a hotel wants to be known as a "boutique" doesn't necessarily make it so. Since the boutique market is so strong, and the term carries an air of panache, many hotels are trying to cash in on the craze.
o how do you identify a real boutique hotel?
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irst of all, is it unique? Does it offer something that no other hotel provides, whether that's a sense of place, a feeling of being pampered, a touch of whimsy?
oes it include elements that are special to that place alone? A specific designer, perhaps, like the Ian Schrager/Phillipe Starck partnership, or the sleek brushed-steel headboards of the Diva in San Francisco, the lighted walnut canopies of On the Ave in New York?
s it small and intimate? The average size of a boutique hotel is 80 rooms, but it can have as few as 40 and as many as 200, depending on the layout, the "look and feel." Boutiques may have a small conference room for corporate retreats, but they do not have convention facilities. Boutiques may provide data ports and in-room fax machines, an off-lobby business center, and other amenities to make work go more smoothly, but they cannot be confused with business-oriented hotels.
boutique is a non-franchised property, which brings up the sticky question of whether the Kimpton Group's Hotel Monaco and Vintage Court properties are really boutique hotels since they appear in multiple cities. Yes, in my opinion, they are, because they combine the elements that make the boutiques unique. Monaco, for example, is pet-friendly, whimsical and fun, offering a temporary pet goldfish to its guests who are traveling without Fluffy or Fido and who might be lonely. Vintage Court fits the niche of old-world calm and elegance. Both properties adapt to the cities in which they appear.
nd lastly, boutique hotels are marketed differently than ordinary hotels, with extravagantly printed brochures and collateral that makes a statement. "Zen calm in a dot-com world," purrs the marketing for the Metropolis in San Francisco. "Rooms for urban nomads," exclaims CityLife Hotels, the parent of On the Ave in New York.
n the end, a boutique hotel creates an environment in which you know you are not in some chain property, in the same way you would choose to purchase your mama's birthday gift in "Sally's Gifts and Objets d'Art" instead of in aTarget or J.C. Penney.
Page One - What Are Boutiques?
Page Two - Characteristics of the Boutiques