Brand versus boutique

Brand versus boutique

Hotels come in all shapes and sizes, but which do you choose for your clients? Katie McGonagle looks at the options

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Do your clients want to know their fellow guests and hotel staff by name? Have a different pool for each day of their stay? Sleep in a room bursting with character or one with chic, modern styling?

These are just a few of the questions you should be asking to find out whether your clients want a boutique hotel with individual touches or a brand they know and love. Undivided attention and smaller, one-of-a-kind properties will suit some, while others prefer the wide-ranging facilities, dining and activities in larger hotels, especially if they have a favourite chain in mind.

Find out what they liked or disliked about hotels they’ve stayed in before so you can match them to the perfect property. Here, we asked operators to pick out a few of their favourite boutique and branded properties to provide a snapshot of options.


Brand: A once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon needs the perfect hotel, so clients are relying on you to get it right. Long-haul options are almost endless, but Virgin Holidays picks out Sandals’ “inspirational beachfront locations” in the Caribbean, while Kuoni singles out the adult-only Couples Swept Away in Jamaica and Secrets Maroma in Mexico for honeymooners seeking peace and quiet.

Le Meridien Khao Lak in Thailand is highlighted by Hayes & Jarvis head of product Andrea Loddo, who says: “The resort is located on a fabulous beach, with separate wings for couples and for families, lush tropical gardens and a wealth of facilities. This is a typical example of a resort that encompasses the best of a luxury brand but still has a feel for the destination in which it is located.”

Closer to home, Kuoni suggests the all-pool villa resort of Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, and the secluded Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman; both boast first-class spas and signature restaurants, bars and private dining options.

Boutique: Among boutique-style properties, Hayes & Jarvis singles out the 50-room Layana Resort & Spa in Koh Lanta, Thailand, for its “relaxed atmosphere”, while Kuoni suggests “decadent” private island resorts such as Pangkor Laut in Malaysia and Palm Island in the Grenadines for a slice of luxury.

If the happy couple don’t want to start their honeymoon with a long flight, try Jardins de la Medina in Marrakech. Prestige Holidays marketing manager Nicky Shafe says: “This property is a hidden gem and a true oasis, and it has facilities you wouldn’t expect in a small hotel. These include a spa, large pool, great restaurant and cookery school.”

Olympic Holidays’ top pick is the adult-only Lindos Blu Hotel & Suites. Tucked into a hillside in Rhodes, it has rooms arranged in an amphitheatre style overlooking the bay.


Brand: Chains remain popular with families, as parents stick to tried-and-tested brands even in new locations. Club Med’s Sinai Bay property in Egypt has five swimming pools and sports academies, while the Hilton Dalaman in Turkey features seven outdoor pools, water slides and an open-air disco, so kids will never run out of things to do.

Olympic highlights the child-friendly facilities at Louis Imperial Beach Club in Paphos, Cyprus, part of the well-known local brand. Classic Collection has already seen the new family Four Seasons Resort Marrakech prove popular, particularly for its top-notch kids’ club and young adults’ centre, which has computers, movies, Wii and Xbox consoles, pool table and table football.

Boutique: Despite their smaller size, many boutique properties still run kids’ clubs and have child-friendly facilities. Olympic recommends the relaxed Aquamare Beach Hotel in Cyprus, which has a kids’ pool, outdoor playground, family rooms and dolphin kids’ club.

For a luxury choice, Kuoni suggests Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives, where the pirate-themed kids’ club activities change each day and youngsters can enjoy slides, sandpits, a nap room and miniature kitchen in the huge dedicated play area.


Brand: Amid a wealth of luxurious brands around the world, Hayes & Jarvis selects Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort in Malaysia as “the best in Asian hospitality”, while Virgin Holidays picks out Melia Bali Garden Villas for their “idyllic setting” and stylish renovation.

Luxury doesn’t always mean long haul though – destinations such as Cyprus are perfect for time-pressed clients. Prestige recommends InterContinental’s Aphrodite Hills Resort with its 18-hole golf course, spa and suites with private pools. Le Meridien gets another nod for its Limassol resort, while Club Med’s Marrakech Le Riad also offers five-star luxury just a short hop away.

Boutique: When it comes to more individual properties, the luxury sector is spoilt for choice. Sticking to short haul, try the 68-room deluxe Londa Beach Hotel in Limassol, one of the Great Hotels of the World, or the “strikingly different” converted 18th-century manor house San Roque in rural Tenerife, which has a Jacuzzi in each of its 20 rooms.

Farther afield, Hayes & Jarvis recommends the 23-room Bali Pavilions in Sanur Beach, an “oasis of calm”. For total seclusion, Kuoni suggests Baros Maldives, where villas open directly onto the beach, while Virgin opts for Anse Chastanet on Saint Lucia, which has no TVs or radios in rooms, leaving guests free to explore 600 acres of lush greenery or pick an isolated spot on the beach to call their own for the day.

Beautiful beach scene


Brand: A less extravagant budget doesn’t have to mean a lesser hotel – look out for good value options and your clients will have a great holiday. Hayes & Jarvis selects Centara Karon Resort in Phuket for its “unique touches and great location”, and Turtle Beach Resort by Elegant Hotels in Barbados, an all-suite all-inclusive hotel.

In the same region, Virgin picks out Rex Resorts, which has a good range of accommodation to suit different budgets; St Lucian by Rex includes activities both on-site or within walking distance to limit extra costs in resort.

Boutique: For boutiques on a budget, Hayes & Jarvis regional product manager Katie Parsons suggests the 76-room Mango Bay in Barbados. She says: “It’s a good choice as it’s a boutique hotel that is also all-inclusive, which normally means larger hotels.

It’s small and friendly and just steps from the shops, restaurants, and bars of Holetown with a great beachfront setting on the west coast. It is also quieter there with much calmer seas to swim in than some of the larger all-inclusive resorts in the south, while still benefiting from there being plenty to do in the area.”


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