How Big Hotel Brands Are Missing the Mark with the Boutique Hotel Experience

Adam Morrisey talks with Jaime Bravo, General Manager of Hotel Bardo in Tulum, a boutique hotel group consisting of three hospitality concepts in Mexico. The hotel’s stay was called ‘transformational’ in Forbes. Bravo claims, “there’s nothing like Tulum. Its soul cannot be replicated.”

Bravo explains that consumer preferences have changed with covid. Covid and 2020 shook the hospitality industry to its core. As we see travel pick up again, guests are not taking things for granted. Their focus has shifted to the simpler things in life, like companionship, benevolence, love, and exploration. The demand for reliable wifi has become an expectation, which Bravo credits to remote work. Travelers are also staying longer. “Average stays have increased by 1.2 nights,” claims Bravo. From 3.8 nights pre-covid to five nights on average today.

Bravo believes that covid accelerated the trend of boutique hotels and boutique hospitality. Travelers want to stay somewhere with hearts. Boutique hotels are built around a concept, and the audience of travelers looking to be present around things they love, a partner, friend, nature, or exploration, is growing too.

To remain successful, Bardo suggests keeping one eye on the basics of hospitality and the other on trends. Guests are looking for authentic encounters with nature, people, and new cultures. The standard used to be a French restaurant, no matter where the hotel was. Today, the desire is a restaurant that explores local, traditional cuisine.

Bravo says, in his opinion, “For you to truly be boutique, you can not be corporate. It’s my take on boutique hospitality… [corporate standards] it’s really good, it’s comfortable, but it kills the place [where you are at].” They miss the mark of capturing where the hotel is. Travelers want a high standard of service, but not the sterility of a corporate hotel.

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