BLLA’s Annual New York Event Features Testimonies from Fashion Leader Varvatos, Hotel Pioneer Pomeranc; Hospitality Leaders Tout Influx of Investments

New York – Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association's (BLLA) annual Boutique Hotel Investment Conference last week featured testimonies about "staying boutique" from fashion leader John Varvatos, lifestyle hotel pioneer Jason Pomeranc, streetwear guru Jeff Carvalho and high-end coffee roaster Todd Carmichael, while announcing a name change to the nine-year-old trade organization.

The conference, which attracted more than 350 hoteliers, lifestyle executives, fashion icons and other attendees to Manhattan's The Times Center on June 6, highlighted the common philosophy between boutique hospitality and the fashion, retail, wellness and technology industries. The event's 40-plus speakers and panelists included Vox Media Chief Commercial Officer Lindsay Nelson and Plated Co-Founder and CEO Josh Hix, in addition to Varvatos, Pomeranc, Carvalho, who is a Partner from Highsnobiety and Carmichael, who is Co-Founder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters.

Panelists and attendees conducted lively discussions about entrepreneurship, the next generation of boutique money and how the concept of boutique is shifting beyond hospitality. With that in mind, the BLLA announced its name change from the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association to the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association.

"We noticed that the word 'lodging' didn't describe our organization anymore," said Ariela Kiradjian, COO of BLLA. "What we realized is that our association gathered all of the fantastic global minds of boutique."

Among other conference highlights was Arlo Hotels Managing Director Javier Egipciaco's announcement that a new Arlo Hotel will be developed at New York's Hudson Yards, with other potential sites in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Boston.

Pomeranc, who co-founded Thompson Hotels in 2001 and is the founder and owner of SIXTY Hotels, talked about how boutique-hotel investment activity was poised to increase in regions such as the Pacific Northwest and Texas as well as how older buildings can be repositioned to create a new lifestyle experience. Jacques and Rakel Cohen, whose Euro Capital Properties reopened the Watergate Hotel in 2016, detailed the fascinating story behind redeveloping the iconic and infamous Washington, D.C. property.

Meanwhile, Menin Hospitality's Jared Galbut and Keith Menin talked about the rise in Miami's stature as a boutique-hotel mecca as well as potential areas of development throughout the city.

Technology was also an ongoing theme throughout the all-day conference, with many panelists discussing the advantages smaller companies have over larger organizations when it comes to implementing new systems and amenities. "Smaller boutique brands can make decisions substantially faster in tech than larger organizations, putting them at a huge advantage," sad LG Electronics' Vice President Mike Kosla. "Boutiques can be more nimble," added KEYPR CEO Robert Stevenson. "They can discover what needs to be done, and you don't have to solve the problem over 50 hotels at the same time."

Additionally, Shannon L. McLay of The Financial Gym and Siobhan O'Leary of Convene explored the importance of financial wellness. "Design your culture and benefits platform the way you design services in hotels" said O'Leary.

BLLA also announced that, the world's first and only direct booking platform for boutique and lifestyle hotels, will officially re-launch this fall. For more information, click here