Hotel Online  Special Report

Is 'Mega Boutique Hotel' an Oxymoron


Harry Nobles  - December 2006

In a September 2001 article we discussed the question: “What is a Boutique Hotel?”  In that article we mentioned the number of rooms as one factor that has an impact on the correct usage of “boutique”; we even said that 100 rooms might be the upper limit.  Things certainly have changed in five years.  There seems to be no upper limit at this time.  

We have recently visited several very large hotels, some with 2,000 rooms or more, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the combination of genuine staff cordiality, personalized service, and attention to detail resulted in a level of guest service delivery that we thought impossible at a mega-hotel. In that atmosphere one could almost forget that there were three to four thousand other guests in house, presumably experiencing the same level of service at the same time.

That feeling may be compared to what I had previously experienced only in small family owned and operated properties with a few dedicated employees.  Simply stated, one starts to believe that the staff only came to work that day because you were there as a guest.  Their entire attention seems to be focused on making your stay an unforgettable experience; making you feel very special, making you feel like you were the only guest there.

I have to admit I never thought it could happen in a 3,000-room hotel with more than 2,000 employees and several thousand guests; I was wrong.

So, what is the difference between a 15-room “boutique” inn with a small intimate dining room, and a 3,000-room “mega-boutique” complex with 2 spas, 25 shops, and 9 food outlets?  It surely is not the number of rooms and other physical facilities; could it be employee attitude, technical ability, and owner commitment?

The only potential problem I can see is that the meaning of “boutique” hotel could become unclear to the public.  Guests who go to the 15-room inn usually have different expectations than those who go to the 3,000-room mega-resort.    Like so many other words, “boutique” may come to mean whatever the user wants it to mean, and that could be different from the hearer’s interpretation.

This could turn out to be a very minor problem, or no problem at all.  If guests receive the creature comforts and the personalized services they want, it will matter little whether this magical experience occurs in a 15-room inn or a 3,000-room resort.  Those guests who demand the best, and are willing to pay for it will go where they find it and they will return.   The label of “boutique”, “mega”, “mega-boutique”, or any other advertising jargon will quickly become meaningless.

To paraphrase the Bard:

“What’s in a name?  
That which we call a boutique hotel, 
By any other name would be as special”



Harry Nobles
Direct line: (757) 564-3761 
800.750.5666 Toll-Free 
757.564.0076 Fax

Also See: Hotel People I Have Know / Harry Nobles / October 2006
Now I’ve Seen Everything -  “Food Servers Employing the Internet to Divulge Names of Customers Who Tip Less than 17%”/ Harry Nobles / September 2006
Does Hotel Room Size Matter? / Harry Nobles / September 2006
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating / Harry Nobles/ May 2006
AAA Evaluation Procedure: Is It Fair? / Harry Nobles/ May 2006
Four Star vs Mobil Four Star / Harry Nobles/ February 2006
Rating Condominiums / Harry Nobles / January 2006
AAA Five Diamond Lodgings; Chain vs Independent / November 2005
Katrina & Rita: Silver Lining or Opportunity? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / October 2005
Our Dream Hotel / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / July 2005
Losing a Diamond or Star / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs /  March 2005
Ratings vs Guest Satisfaction / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2005
Our "Pick of the Month" / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
5 Star vs 5 Diamond: What’s the Difference? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
Strategic Alliance Announced, Committed to Hospitality Excellence / August 2004
Family Resorts: Suggested Strategies / Cheryl Griggs / July 2004
Are Small Resorts Unfairly Treated by the AAA and Mobil Rating Criteria / July 2004
Designing For Optimum Global Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / June 2004
QualAsia Formed to Provide Authoritative Organization to Inspect and Evaluate Hotels Across Asia; Harry Nobles Appointed Chairman of New Asian Hotel Rating Service / May 2004
Validity of Online Hotel Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / April 2004
Resorts Ratings Redux / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2004
Are Your Trainers Trained? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Grigg /  January 2004 
The Language of Service / Cheryl Griggs / October 2003
Hotel Renovation Ideas vs AAA Ratings Criteria / Harry Nobles / October 2003
New Employee Orientation: Necessity or Luxury?  /  July 2003
Save the Best - Replace the Rest / July 2003
AAA and Mobil Ratings As a Sales Tool / May 2003
How Well Do You Know Your Competitor? / May 2003
Our Favorite Hotel?  / March 2003
The Current Value of AAA Hotel Ratings / Feb 2003
Stars and Diamonds; Some Similarities and Some Differences / January 2003
AAA's Delay: Good or Bad? / July 2002
Timing Is Everything, Or Is It? / July 2002 
Boutique Hotels: Have They Gone Too Far / May 2002
People Really Do Make the Difference / Jan 2002
What Is a Boutique Hotel? / Dec 2001
The Non-negotiable Traits of Leaders / Oct 2001 
How Important is Service? / Sept 2001
Front Desk Service Mistakes / Aug 2001
Food & Beverage Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001
Bell Staff Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001 
Attitude vs Aptitude / June 2001
Female Business Travelers' Expectations / June 2001
Is Outsourcing Your Training a Viable Alternative? / June 2001
Unique Identity + Consistent Service = Success / May 2001
AAA Standards vs  Guests' Expectations / May 2001
Are Your Guests Better Informed Than Your Staff? / April 2001
Are U.S. Hotels Rated Differently From Other North American Hotels? / April 2001
The Design Theme - AAA / Mobil Ratings Connection / March 2001
Attitude Can Make the Difference / January 2001
How Should Casino-Hotels be Rated? / Dec 2000
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly? / Nov 2000
Is Your Property Suffering From Design Deficiency? / Nov 2000 
The Future of AAA Ratings / September 2000
What Is Your Optimum AAA Rating / August 2000
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating…../ June 2000
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate and Objective / May 2000
Creating Atmosphere / Jan 2000
What is "Atmosphere"? / December 1999
Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult? / Oct 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Who Should Train Your Employees  / Aug 2000 
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Key to Success: Training + Follow-Up / June 2000
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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