Ever since Ian Schrager invented the category, the idea of Boutique hotels has held a special place in the imaginations of hoteliers. Of course, what Schrager had in mind and where the category went are two different things. In this article I will clarify what the category is, or should be, and what it is not.
The big surprise in North America was the idea that you could have a really great small hotel. By the mid-eighties the idea of luxury hotel was, for the major component of the market, inextricably linked to size. Great big hotels could be grand. Small hotels could be Holiday Inns or motels. While there was some logic to this (for one thing, the hotel business model dictated that to pay off hotels had to be pretty huge), and for the most part “Grand Hotels” (an official category in many European countries) were relatively large, it had a stifling effect on the industry.