A Shift in the Boutique Business

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An announcement last week from boutique bigwig Andre Balazs may signal a subtle but significant change in that segment of the hotel industry. Balazs says he's close to a deal to sell the ultra-cool Raleigh Hotel in South Beach so he can beef-up and expand The Standard, his group of lower-priced, boutique properties.

While the era of the high-end boutique may be fading, along with the rest of the luxury hotel market, it doesn't mean, as Balazs is betting, consumers don't want style, vibe and comfort in their accommodations. In fact, a whole new sub-segment of the market—lifestyle hotels—has emerged in the past few years as a direct result of this consumer trend. Now nearly every brand company has a flag in the lifestyle hotel sector, and it's one of the few segments where significant development is still happening.

If you're a developer, lender or have a management company with an interest in the lifestyle and boutique business, you need to make plans to attend the inaugural Lifestyle/Boutique Hotel Development Conference next month (Oct. 12-14) at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. Lodging Hospitality and HVS Hotel Management are sponsoring the event, which promises an all-star lineup of speakers on an array of financial, development, marketing and operational topics related to the segment. A highlight of the conference will be a keynote luncheon address by designer Cheryl Rowley, who has created some of the most distinctive boutique interiors in the business.

Go to the conference website for more information. I hope to see you in Miami Beach.

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