LOS ANGELES — When Frances Kiradjian started the Boutique
and Lifestyle Lodging Association in 2009 in a down economy, there were a lot
of people who thought Boutique hotels were just a fad. Kimpton, one of the
segment’s pioneers, was contemplating taking the word “Boutique” out of its
descriptor. At hospitality conferences around the world, she was greeted with
the response, “Are you kidding? Boutique hotels don’t make any money.”
Ten years later, the association is thriving with hundreds of members including four from Canada. In 2012, they needed an offline gathering
place, and held their first conference at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. In 2013, they added an investment conference
in New York City. In 2015, they added another conference on empowering women in
“2016, that was our year,” Frances’ daughter Ariela told
delegates to the most recent conference, The Trifecta of Stay Boutique Lodging
conferences held in L.A. Feb. 11-13. “We were now respected and
solidified into the hospitality world. We launched a magazine— a niche magazine
for the sector, a well-crafted, unique publication.”
Last year, they trademarked the name “Stay Boutique”, with
the idea that “boutique is not a hotel; it’s an experience and every community
can join.” They changed the name of the BLLA to the Boutique and Lifestyle Leaders Association.
Hence the focus at the L.A. conference on boutique hotels,
boutique restaurants, boutique beverages, boutique scents and more.
The association is anything but stagnant. “On June 5, 2019, [at the 2019 Boutique Hotel Investment Conference in New York City], we are completely relaunching,” Ariela
Kiradjian said. Stay tuned.