Gone are the days when bigger means better in the hospitality industry. Hence, new boutique brands are sprouting up across the world as guests seek smaller, more creative and unique experiences. All the following have recently been launched, each one adopting similar minimalist and hassle-free concepts:
Andaz by Hyatt
Andaz (meaning "personal style" in Hindi) made its debut in 2007 with a Victorian style property on Liverpool Street in London. Since 2007, it has grown to four properties in New York, London, San Diego and West Hollywood, with another one in New York in the pipeline.
Philosophy: The brand prides itself in its chameleon-like character, striving to adapt to its surroundings. No two Andaz hotels will be the same as they reflect the culture around them. The minds behind Andaz say that it is “global in scale while local in perspective”.
Unique feature: Guests will be greeted by staff and checked in by PDAs. Hotels are housed in historic buildings.
Edition by Marriott
Edition was created by the man who invented "boutique", Ian Schrager in partnership with the group that epitomises "chain", Marriott – an unexpected pairing that is still being talked about in the industry. The first Edition was rolled out in Hawaii in September. This was the Waikiki Edition whose surfing theme perfectly matched its environs. The brand intends to grow to 100 properties around the world, with the next one opening in Istanbul early next year.
Philosophy: The hotel aims to be simply “a home away from home; an office away from the office”.
Unique feature: The most unique feature of the first Edition property is perhaps, the outdoor poolside movie cinema.
Element by Starwood:
This environmentally-friendly boutique brand, inspired by its sister brands Westin Hotels and Resorts and Aloft, was launched in 2009 and has so far permeated North America, with eight properties and one poised to open in New York Times Square on December 9, 2010. The design USP seeks to replace rigid divisions of space with more free flowing "multipurpose" spaces. Properties are also well lit, user-friendly and eco-friendly with energy efficient technology and recyclable materials.
Philosophy: The brand is all about creating a refreshing, relaxing atmosphere for guests because, as its marketers claim, “it is important for you to achieve a sense of balance”.
Unique feature: Complimentary weekly BBQs held at the patios and the fresh, healthy breakfast bars at all properties. The Rise Breakfast Bars include signature smoothie shooters and fresh hot wraps.
Indigo by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG):
The first boutique brand of IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) was launched in 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia. It is poised to make its Asian debut along Shanghai's Huangpu River. The brand is also inspired by its surroundings and therefore has constantly changing decorative furnishings to stay ahead of the curve with murals, rugs, duvets and aromas that match the zeitgeist.
Philosophy: IHG, which also includes Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in its portfolio, is renowned for providing business travellers with high degrees of convenience and efficiency. Hotel Indigo embodies that in a more chic manner.
Unique feature: The ever-changing murals and decorative furnishings as well as the different colour schemes on each level of the property.
Venu by Jumeirah:
As with its parent brand, Venu is positioned to be associated with luxury. The brand’s first property will make a global debut in Shanghai next year within the Himalayas Centre and will be themed around Chinese contemporary art.
Philosophy: Like Andaz, Venu upholds a "Local Soul" philosophy offering guests a taste of their surroundings with customised cuisine options and collections of local art.
Unique feature: Venu will bring local culture to the guestrooms' not only with culture-specific décor but also with a library of carefully selected local classic novels. In the first Venu property, guests can read Chinese works and choose from a variety of Chinese teas.
Vivanta by Taj:
In September this year, Taj Hotels rebranded 19 of its properties across India under the Vivanta umbrella, which is the chain’s ‘upper upscale’ brand - placing it a notch above its Taj Gateway portfolio of ‘upscale’ properties - for the cream of the crowd. Expansion plans will see up to 14 more properties added to the portfolio within the next year. Located within several commercial cities, the new brand presents itself as the brand for the “work-hard-play-hard traveller” offering both efficiency and luxury with state of the art technology and stylish designs.
Philosophy: Taj Hotels launched Vivanta based on customer survey and research, which revealed a demand for the crème de la crème, which is exactly what this brand will provide.
Unique feature: Loft-style suites at select properties and their flagship property – Vivanta by Taj Whitefield Bangalore - consists of a façade that constantly changes colours.