Although the recent Covid 19 pandemic may have halted some developments in the hospitality industry; designers, hoteliers, owners and entrepreneurs in this sector have worked hard. Many world leaders have used this time to try new things, seize opportunities, create new concepts and keep moving forward; passion and ambition in mind.
BLLA’s 2021 Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Conference was held virtually and provided its motivated audience an opportunity to collaborate and share the exciting projects they’ve been working on and a space to navigate the abundance of new obstacles facing this industry is facing. This conference, held remotely, invited guest speakers from around the world to share a platform. From these conversations emerged new projects, reiterated beliefs and a sense of community; a ferocious force crying that the industry is not content to persist; but in force. Below we have compiled a list highlighting a few of these impressive projects, ones that have moved us and motivated us to appreciate the immense progress made over the past seemingly stagnant years. These selected projects demonstrate the creativity and innovation that this industry promotes, and they highlight the core values of the boutique lifestyle.
The June Motel: innovation, creativity and redefining travel experiences
This fun team of creative minds work tirelessly to redefine the way we see (and stay in) motels. Featured on Netflix’s “Motel Makeover,” this lively pair of brilliant women are revamping the motel scene in a major way. identifying as a “trendy boutique hotel brand”, April Brown and Sarah Sklash founded the June Motel concept which currently comprises two locations; one near Toronto in Prince Edward County and the other in Sauble Beach, Canada.
Sarah and April began their hospitality journey by buying and completely transforming a former fisherman’s motel into a new place for millennials to tour wine country in style.
“Our whole concept is to reinvent this experience of staying in a motel. Traditionally, you stop, check in your room, [and essentially] it was a place to sleep. But we’re really more about creating an experience around that. We have invested heavily in common spaces that bring people together,” says April. The Toronto location offers a large campfire to enjoy with other travelers at night and a bar serving local wine and beers. At Sauble Beach, a pool and lush restaurant invite visitors to enjoy a community-focused scene. “We spent a lot of time thinking about the experience of where we want motel culture to evolve,” added April. From a glass of wine during check-in to quaint art installations, this duo took the dark, dark idea of the motel and transformed it into a bright and lively community space where travelers can mingle and mingle. have fun.
The ambition and passion that these women bring to their work is inspiring. They were fully involved in the process of building their very first motel, doing everything but the plumbing and electrical themselves (with help from their good friends and family). Organizing the June Motel with power tools in hand, these women work tirelessly to carve out a new niche for themselves in the travel industry, catering to a demographic of travelers full of gratitude for their cool new vision. “Finding opportunities to continue to be authentic, [as well as] sharing and building communities is really important to us,” Sarah added. We can’t wait to see what other clever visions this duo has in store for us.
AndBeyond’s mindful approach paves the way
In a conversation titled “The Boutique Hotel Experience: Alfresco,” Nicole Robinson, Director of Marketing at andBeyond, shared the company’s innovative ideas that she was lucky enough to see come to fruition. With 29 lodges, andBeyond offers guests a unique wilderness experience by offering mystifying African-style game drives.
AndBeyond began its mission 30 years ago with transparent core values. “Through care of the land, wildlife and people, and through the extraordinary guest experience, we could leave our world a better place,” shared Nicole. This graceful pillar on which the company rests is a refreshing reminder for all involved in the travel industry. Fortunately, their commitment to this concept has not diminished over their 30 years of success. In fact, the recent global pandemic has presented them with an opportunity to prove their devotion to this mantra.
What inspires us about the andBeyond boutique approach is consistency in operating with these beliefs intact, even in the midst of a global pandemic. While most of andBeyond’s clients are based overseas, they have faced a particularly difficult challenge navigating ever-changing travel regulations over the past few years. While some large travel companies have been forced to sacrifice job numbers, andBeyond has taken a different approach to perseverance; one focused on preservation.
“What happened during this time was that we were brought together by a very strong vision and our cause for success. […] through this pandemic would be to save our ship, ration it, and get to the other side of the storm where everyone is still on board. […] We have been able to retain all of our staff, and more particularly at the lower levels, by keeping them as close as possible to 100% of their salaries. Specifically, in an African context, one person’s salary takes care of ten others at home,” shared Nicole.
Their conscious approach to maintaining a clear and wonderfully executed vision makes the boutique lifestyle stand out from other travel options. Ensuring people are cared for and prioritizing the well-being and conservation of each unique land or community that Boutique Leaders so gracefully accomplish. (And) andBeyond executes this model of compassion so well. We hope to see more like-minded stores as the travel industry grows.
Entrepreneurs and dynamic concepts: HOY Hotel Paris
Charlotte Gomez de Orozco opened her yoga-themed hotel in Paris two years ago. When people hear that this hotel is specifically a “yoga hotel” Charlotte explains the intentional design built to facilitate a deeper connection with meditation and yoga. “We are a small boutique hotel. We have 21 bedrooms and two treatment rooms. [At HOY Hotel Paris] we have between 5 and 6 yoga classes a day at all levels”, Charlotte explained herself. The creators specifically designed the yoga studios to facilitate a deeper, more intentional practice. Studios are intentionally lit in the dark to avoid distractions during training, and heated spaces “allows the body to be more relaxed, to deepen the practices and to feel warm, like at home”, she added. The hotel’s approach to the experience is very holistic, inviting guests to enjoy the retreat for their whole body, mind and soul.
The hotel also incorporates sustainable elements in addition to its yogi design. By banning plastic, filling their spaces with plants and flowers, and offering an all-plant-based menu, the hotel hopes to provide a conducive environment for local visitors and international travelers alike. The attention to detail at HOY Hotel Paris is impressive, adding to the overall flow of “Fung Shai.”
The detail-oriented philosophy of the HOY Hotel is something that makes this project unique. Charlotte explained how the boutique hospitality industry has the opportunity to live within communities by working with local suppliers and seasonal ingredients. She understands that this is a special position. “Our price is sometimes higher than other hotels, but that’s the price to pay for working with good products, working with good people.” said Charlotte. This perspective is the power of small-scale, localized experiences. By investing in businesses invested in local communities, tourists directly taste, experience and support the local culture and its people.
“I think that’s what makes boutique hotels a bit different [from commercial hoteliers]is it [the hotel] is truly an extension of your own home,” added Ariela Kiradjian, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of BLLA. The HOY hotel in Paris does an incredible job of making guests feel at home too.
All of the incredibly unique experiences presented by BLLA at this year’s conference do a remarkable job of inviting travelers to interact with curated spaces on an intimate level. The personalities and creativity these people bring to the world move the travel industry to new heights and uphold core ethical values during difficult times. These are exciting examples of what it means to integrate a boutique perspective into our lives, our work and our travels – prioritizing and proudly sharing the core goals of our visions.
Join us October 24-25 for the Boutique Hotel Owners Conference live in Los Angeles! This will be the 11th annual gathering of what was previously the Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Conference. Learn more here!
About Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA)
Founded in 2009, the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) is the official association of the world’s top visionaries in the boutique lifestyle industry. Membership in the BLLA not only includes an enhanced sense of community, it provides all the resources necessary for small independent businesses to thrive in this growing industry, including access to distribution channels, marketing tools , webinars, whitepapers, store progress reports. landscape, and more. The organization promotes connection, education and advocacy. As a pioneer in forecasting the boutique movement, the BLLA network has grown beyond its hotel foundation to welcome more passionate entrepreneurs, businesses and suppliers who amplify the boutique lifestyle. BLLA is a catalyst for trends and the future of the store. blla.org
Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA)