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'There is a little bit of boutique in all of us!'

Travels with Deb

Photo courtesy of Chable Maroma

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Photo courtesy of The Lumen Hotel

When we begin to get back to travel, the boutique hospitality sector is due to boom. Travelers will want to stay at smaller, more intimate properties that can ensure safety, as well as offer unique experiences.

The Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA), which was originally The Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association, is the official organization for the world’s boutique lifestyle leaders. Frances Kiradjian and Ariela Kiradjian, founders of BLLA, started the association and corresponding stay-boutique.com website back in 2009.

There are currently 2,500 global boutique properties on the website (plus 9,000 more ready to add) with direct booking links to the hotel’s reservations page. These properties have been “cherry-picked” by the BLLA’s staff and its Board of Advisors, who vet the hotels using specific criteria. They examine such aspects as design type, price point, food and beverage programs, customer reviews, amenities, and more.

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Photo courtesy of The Lumen Hotel

Frances Kiradjian, CEO, explains that the definition of “boutique” has changed over the years, as the boutique lifestyle became the top preferred sector by many leisure and business travelers. She says, “Part of our mission as BLLA is to work toward defining and expanding the concept of ‘boutique’ for the modern consumer as variety in the boutique landscape grows.” She adds, “Beyond boutique hotels, there are boutique coffee shops, boutique retail, boutique fitness, and more. As new trends in travel and lifestyle emerge as well, these trends contribute to new offerings in the boutique space.”

For boutique hotels, BLLA has recently defined fourteen official categories based on traveler interests and pricing. They include: classic, luxury, budget, resort, hipster, concept, micro, historic, B&B, residential, branded, at-sea, adventure and convention.

Each of the properties has its own character and style. Kiradjian says that guests are attracted to places that have a great location, as well as memorable qualities. She cites New York’s Crosby Street Hotel as one example, as it offers a quirky design and luxury features like a rooftop kitchen garden and 99-seat screening room.

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Photo courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House

Another example is The Hoxton, which has locations in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and other major cities. Visitors enjoy free international calls and free flexible checkout among the perks. In addition, the hotels can be booked as workspaces for locals.

In San Francisco, the pet-friendly Hotel Triton encourages travelers to bring their furry friends, free of charge. It also serves as an art hub, hosting exhibits by local artists, whose work is on display and available for purchase.

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Photo courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House

According to Kiradjian, bookings of boutique properties are currently on the rise. Such hotels are offering a variety of promotions from renting rooms at a day rate for an office-away-from-home location to providing creative food baskets and items for takeaway.

Kiradjian believes that now more than ever, travelers will seek the comfort of a smaller property, especially those within driving distance of their homes. As for safe-stay aspects, she notes that boutique hotels have instituted strict health procedures. Many have even hired an executive to take charge of this all-important concern.

“The future is definitely bright, as there is a bit of boutique in all of us!” comments Kiradjian.

For more information: www.stay-boutique.com

Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries spanning all seven continents, and her stories appear in numerous print and digital publications.