Hotel de EDGE by Rhombus, tucked away in Hong Kong’s colourful Sheung Wan district, stands out in a neighbourhood of nondescript buildings with its contemporary art façade.
The 90-room bolthole opened just this week and it is already enjoying high occupancy, said Calvin Mak, founder and chief executive of Rhombus International Hotels Group.
The new property offers the following features: a stylish design concept by Hong Kong-based architect Anthony Chan (who was also behind the design of the group’s popular Hotel LKF) and up-to-date services including in-room check in to a choice of pillows, free wifi internet access throughout and iPads that can be borrowed during the course of the guest’s stay. Additionally, 80 percent of the rooms offer a harbour view and the hotel’s restaurant, glo, has been popular ever since it opened in March before the rest of the hotel’s facilities.
According to Mak, the size of the property, the personalised service and the fact that it’s the only one branded “de Edge” that makes this hotel true to the “boutiqe” concept. He explained: “The word ’boutique’ itself means small. A boutique hotel is essentially something that you either like or you don’t because it will be small with less than 100 rooms, a unique theme or design concept and it will be different and unfamiliar.
“A true boutique hotel enables the staff to know your name and needs and offers premium, personalised services. You won’t find a duplicate anywhere,” said Mak.
Posters on the Business Traveller forum shared similar views, but when it comes to boutique hotels operators, the verdict remains cloudy.
With hotels increasingly applying the ’boutique’ concept to their business model, confusion in the market is starting to show. Earlier, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific listed a series of new boutique brands launched by established hotel groups, such as Hyatt and Marriott (see story here), which marry the chic and hip design elements of a small boutique hotel with a large chain’s strategy to expand aggressively.
Andaz, for example, is Hyatt’s boutique brand. The group said the new brand is a chameleon, adapting to its environment and absorbing elements of the local culture to make each Andaz property unique. However, Andaz properties also typically consist of more than 100 rooms. Does the term boutique still apply?
“I think a lot of people are taking advantage of the term ’boutique’,” said Mak.”It is not even fair for large hotels with more than 100 rooms to say they can offer personalised services because the staff cannot even remember your name.”
On the other hand, perhaps the term boutique within the hotel industry has shifted from being based on size to being based on innovative concepts that break the rules – a shift led by Ian Schrager, ‘the father of boutique’ who consistently reinvented the hotel experience and is now the mastermind behind Edition, Marriott’s boutique brand.
Stay tuned for a more detailed look into what makes a boutique “boutique” in Business Traveller Asia-Pacific’s July/August issue. Opening rates at Hotel de EDGE start from HK$700 (US$90). For more information on Hotel de EDGE, visit www.hoteldeedge.com.hk