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What is a boutique hotel and how is it changing the hotel industry?


Unlike the open-to-interpretation meaning of luxury hotel, the definition of boutique hotel is quite clear. Here are some elements that distinguish a boutique hotel.

First and foremost, a boutique hotel is small.

Most hospitality pros agree that for a property to be considered a boutique hotel, it should not be much bigger than 100 roomsBut not too small: if it doesn’t have at least 10 rooms, it’s not a boutique hotel but a B&B or inn.

A boutique hotel’s intimate size produces its characteristic personal feeling and heady ambiance. Some luxury travelers enjoy the compact size and enveloping atmosphere of a boutique hotel. Others prefer feeling like observers in a big, busy grand hotel.

Source: luxurytravel.about.com


If you’ve been around the industry a while, you remember brands that had great-looking product but never quite made money. So the big question with these exciting boutique, lifestyle and soft-brand hotels is: “Will they make money?”
For its “Lifestyle hotels, soft brand collections and boutique hotels” report, the Highland Group, partnering with HNN parent company STR, looked at seven samples of hotels in these segments to address this question. Net operating income for these groups of lifestyle hotels, soft-branded hotels and boutique hotels is shown in the below chart.
Net operating income performance is encouraging for these samples. A significant contributor is the beverage department. The below chart shows beverage sales for the seven samples that contribute from 8% to 15% of revenues, except for the “Lifestyle 200-299” room sample. Three of the samples generate more than $8,000 per available room in beverage revenue. Beverage sales enrich the bottom line for these hotels directly. They also create a “place to be” that is active and entertaining for guests, enhancing overall market position.
Net operating income figures suggest that these three components of the boutique market have the potential to prove desirable and profitable to developers and hotel operators.


Since Morgans Hotel Group opened properties in the mid-80s in New York City, a new era of boutique hotels have showcased high style furnishings and fashionable lounges. While traditional historic boutique hotels are still being developed, the market has shifted dramatically. Only 22% of boutique hotels developed in the past 30 years are traditional in design.
There are 659 boutique hotels with 54,557 rooms in the United States. Boutique inventory is growing at 3.1% annually, well above the rate of the overall hotel industry.
With modern design styles and fashionable lounges, boutique hotels attract an affluent clientele, among others. Demand has increased dramatically and so has interest from hotel chains. The chains are entering the boutique market in two ways.
Soft-brand collections enable independent hotels, such as boutique properties, to participate in national and global distribution systems while retaining their unique name and style. Many soft-brand hotels are small design-centered properties, such as Casa Monica, an Autograph by Marriott in St. Augustine or the Biltmore, a Curio by Hilton in Providence. However, the soft brands also include hotels that are not boutique, such as Hilton’s SLS in Las Vegas. There are already 208 hotels with 35,000 rooms in soft-brand collections, and the collections are growing at an annual pace of 18%.
Lifestyle hotels are products developed by national franchise systems with multiple brands, national reservation and marketing programs and broad distribution. Products in the lifestyle brands follow tight design standards from their franchise brands. They are known by their brand rather than by a unique name, and they have standardized features. However, they are designed to compete for guests who prefer the cache of a boutique hotel. They also will attract the hotel developer interested in the boutique segment but who associates lower risk with franchised products. There are 178 hotels with 30,982 rooms in 12 lifestyle brands. Lifestyle capacity is growing at 11.5% annually.


Boutique hotel design has already changed the look and feel of branded hotels. New design packages found in branded product, from Hampton Inn hotels to Marriott resorts, reflect the influence of boutique hotels on the overall market.
The success of lounge operations in boutique hotels also is influencing the overall hotel market. Where food-and-beverage operations were minimized in select-service hotels a few years ago, independent and branded hotel developers and operators are examining the revenue opportunities in lounges for their new developments.
The lifestyle brands are incorporating lounges, often with light foodservice, into their standards.  Rooftop lounges also have become popular at boutique hotels for the guest experience they create and value they deliver to owners.
Lifestyle brands and soft-brand collections are growing much more quickly than the overall industry. There is an explosion of new brands and products entering this space. While not all the new brands will stand the test of time, the boutique, lifestyle and soft-brand segment will continue to grow faster than the overall hotel industry. Expect these brands and design features to become increasingly mainstream. Over time, they are likely to supplant some of the legacy full-service and select-service brands.
While it’s more business than romance, fine design and those enticing cocktail lounges aren’t bad for romance either.


By Kim Bardoul
HNN contributor

The Hotel Room tips that will make your property a real star!

Nowadays, comfort is not defined by the star rating of a hotel or just from the facilities it offers. A real quality hotel must combine multiple characteristics that blend the facilities with the overall experience the guests are going to live during their stay. However, and without any doubt, the hotel room experience is what defines the level of the guests’ satisfaction and categorizes your property among the real successful ones.

1. Forget the single beds!

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

The type of the bed is an essential facility for the travelers – and the most important! -, since it has been proven that the first thing that all travelers check, as soon as they are in their room, is the bed type. A king size bed is always an indication of luxury and comfort, and undeniably, the twin beds decrease the sleep quality expectations. A real luxury hotel, should pay special attention regarding this matter and offer comfortable king size beds even for single use. After all, who wouldn’t like to enjoy a double fresh mattress alone?


Useful tip: In order to offer a room both as a double or twin, select bed types that will easily allow you to transform a twin bed into a comfortable double one, by using high quality mattresses. It is also very important to use a double bed and never twin beds, every time a room is offered for single use.



2. Be aware of the toilet taboo!

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

There is a common complain among travelers, for which the hoteliers are rarely informed about and it is officially one of the biggest taboos in the hotel industry. Of course, it is no other than the soundproofing of the hotel rooms’ bathrooms/toilets. It is neither romantic nor luxury the absence of privacy in the place where even the king goes alone! The hoteliers must take into serious consideration this issue, especially those who choose glass doors as a matter of design.


Useful Tip: To ensure the maximum of privacy in the toilet, use speakers out of the toilet door, and let music work on benefit of the guests’ privacy and satisfaction.



3. Make luggage convenience a competitive advantage.

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

Unpacking after a trip is one of the most boring things the travelers must do and hoteliers should make the experience better for their guests. Even if it is considered a must, luggage racks are often not found in hotel rooms. Luggage racks are considered to be a really helpful tool, which helps you to unpack quickly and start your holidays immediately.

Satisfactory storage space is the most important thing regarding the unpacking process, and in case you do not have enough space for walk-in closets, make sure to provide your guests with appropriate spots in the closet for shirts, dresses and even shoes storing.


Useful Tip: Suitcases occupy a great amount of space of the hotel room, making the travelers stay less convenient and comfortable. Improve your travelers’ experience by offering them a “Luggage Storage” service, that will allow them to “get rid” of their empty suitcases after unpacking, and free important room space, increasing their satisfaction!



4. Give a good first impression.

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

It is very important to give your guests a good impression when entering their hotel room for the first time, since the first minutes in a hotel room are those that will define the guests’ satisfaction. Make sure that the overall impression, from smell, temperature and even the people who accompany the guests to their room, will positively affect the guests, creating pleasant feelings and of course expectations.


Useful Tip: Pay close attention to the hotel room’s scent, and take care of this matter with a quality air freshener. Make sure to use a neutral smell – while at the same time offering them a variety of scent alternatives – which will be pleasant to the majority of your guests.


5. Welcome your guests with some tasteful surprises and fresh water.

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

When arriving at a hotel, the first thing you wish is to enter your room and get some rest or spend some time exploring the facilities the room has to offer. There is no better surprise than some tasteful welcome “delicacies” that will make your day. Complimentary water is a “Must” and without any doubt it is, and must be a point of review.


Useful Tip: When choosing the «Welcome surprise» think practically! The travellers want something fast and easy to eat! Prefer individual snacks, some sour and some sweet and perfectly select local products so as to impress more the guests, presenting the food culture of your area.



6. Accessible electricity plugs are considered to be only those which are close to bed.

Hotel: Liostasi Hotel & Suites Photo by: Christos Drazos

Everybody knows that the modern travellers own an average of 3 electronic devices and they usually wish to stay connected no matter what. As nowadays the need of Free and high speed Wi – Fi is clear to hoteliers, surprisingly, the need of electricity is not something that they seem very familiar with. It is a very common issue the effort to find accessible plugs to charge your mobile phone, your laptop or any other device you carry during your trips. And the only plugs that can be considered as accessible, are those that you can use while lying on your dreaming double bed.


Useful tip: In case that the old construction of the hotel does not allow the “luxury” of electricity plugs near the bed, do not hesitate to offer your most “spoiled” guests extension cords.


In this article we used photos from one of the most luxurious small hotels in Greece, Liostasi Hotel & Suites in Ios Island, and the cause of this article is to teach how to build the ideal rooms for your guests! The impressive photo shooting was made by the famous, hotel & travel photographer, Christos Drazos.

Hotel Breakfast Tips: How to make your guests’ day!

Hotel Breakfast Tips: How to make your guests’ day!

Hotel breakfast is one of the most important services that a hotel offers. As it is usually included in the room price, it can easily become a reference point of satisfaction or not, for all hotel guests. Even if a rich breakfast is not in your daily routine, whenever you find yourself in a hotel — either for business or pleasure — the breakfast time is the most interesting moment of the day, giving you the energy you need and inviting you to try delicious tastes that will really make your day.

But which are the key-points on which you should pay attention and that can make breakfast the competitive advantage of your hotel, boosting your ratings and reviews?

1. Make sure that you use labelsPhoto by: Le Meridien Bangkok

A very common mistake in a hotel breakfast buffet, is the lack of labels. Even if the hoteliers or the F&B managers feel confident that they have built the perfect breakfast menu, they often fail to adequately inform the guests on what each plate is, creating misunderstandings about what the guest has really picked. A situation like this is bad for both the hotel (since you are wasting an important amount of ingredients) and the guests, since they end up not enjoying their breakfast as they had hoped for.

In order to avoid this, make sure that you use sufficient labels for all items in your buffet, explaining what each plate is and what are its ingredients.

Smart tip: In order to highlight the high quality, don’t forget to write on each label some ‘catchy’ notes, like the name of the Chef who has created the recipe or the origin of the products used, especially if they come from the local market.

2. Guide your GuestsPhoto by: Capo Bay Hotel

Many hoteliers are really proud of the big variety they offer through their breakfast menu. But this can be a real problem for the guests, who have difficulties in deciding what to pick among all those choices or end up making some really bad taste combinations. If you are a hosting a high-end and extensive breakfast, it is vital to work hard on the overall structure of your buffet, guiding & helping the guests to choose the right things that will make them enjoy their breakfast in the best possible way. Don’t forget that a satisfied breakfast guest, is far more likely to come back later to try your other hotel restaurants!

Smart tip: Print a special “Breakfast Ideas” menu that will help the guests combine the different plates and ingredients according to their personal likes, giving them the optimum culinary experience. Make sure to cover an many guest profiles as possible, not forgetting to include some ‘light’, ‘healthy’ and ‘gluten free’ options!

3. Present the local cuisine through your ‘Traditional Breakfast’

Photo by: Sensimar Royal Blue Resort & Spa

When visiting a new destination, one thing is for sure: travellers will want to experience the most of it, no matter if they travel for business or leisure. Even if a standard continental breakfast is the easiest and safest way to go, since it covers the majority of the guests’ desires, traditional local recipes are always well received and many times become the ‘best sellers’ of the breakfast buffet. Guests become excited when they have the opportunity to try new tastes and live even for a while like a local, diving in the culture and habits of the destination. Using local products gives also a sense of luxury, as it hints high quality, while at the same time indicates that you equally care for your guests’ experience and the support of your local community.

Smart Tip: Don’t mix the local recipes with the rest of your buffet. In order to present them in the best possible way, make a special “Local Breakfast Corner”, where you will gather all the local products and recipes offered to your guests, giving them an added value and focus.

4. Offer Low Calories Breakfast!Photo by: Mama Shetler, Lyon

Spending many days at a hotel, can ensure some extra pounds for your guests, especially if what you are offering at breakfast is so delicious and rich. But high-quality doesn’t  necessarily mean ‘things that will make you fat’. Invest in creating a selection of dishes with low calories, allowing those guests who wish to take a break from the daily ‘eggs & bacon’ choice, to do so in the most clever and inspired way. Make sure to stick to the ‘mouthwatering’ way of presenting your low-calories dishes, ensuring that you will preserve the excitement of your guests and not make them feel that they choose ‘healthy’ over taste!

Smart Tip: Ask your Chef to create the “Fit plate of the day”, with a selection of low fat products and recipes, that will help the travellers choose the “light way” to start their day. It is always easier to restrict yourself from picking among the numerous delicacies offered at a buffet, when the hotel offers you a ready, tasteful and low fat solution. 

5. Create a Breakfast AmbiancePhoto by: Hotel Villa Carlotta

It is very common to offer breakfast at the same restaurant where your guests will later come to enjoy their lunch or dinner. Especially for this reason, it is critical to create a distinct “Breakfast Ambiance” in the morning, that will help the guests start their day in the best possible way. Choose the best music for morning, use some special plates or equipment and highlight the happy, colourful and joyful breakfast mood. Try to present everything differently, even products that are served during breakfast and dinner as well. Ask your Architect or Interior designer to come up with some clever set ups for the breakfast time, that will help you easily create the atmosphere you wish and offer to your guests a unique experience, clearly different than their lunch or dinner at the same venue.

Special Tip: Select special staff uniforms especially for the breakfast, giving a unique character to the whole setting. People are the most important part of the hotel experience and they are the best channel to create the ambiance you need. Special uniforms with smart prints can make the day of your guests and create a happy atmosphere.