Sincerely, BLLA

Projects That Inspire Us

Part 8 in a series of 8 overviews Although the recent Covid 19 pandemic may have halted some developments in the hospitality industry; designers...

Part 8 in a series of 8 overviews

Although the recent Covid 19 pandemic may have halted some developments in the hospitality industry; designers, hoteliers, owners, and entrepreneurs in this business have been hard at work. Many global leaders have been using this time to try new things, seize opportunities, create new concepts and continue progressing; passion and ambition leading the way.  

The 2021 Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Conference by BLLA took place virtually and provided its motivated audience an opportunity to collaborate and share the exciting projects they have been working on and a space to navigate the abundance of new obstacles this industry has been facing. This conference, held remotely, invited guest speakers worldwide to share a platform. From these conversations, new projects emerged, beliefs reiterated, and the sense of community; a fierce force screaming that the industry is not only persisting; but prevailing. Below, we have compiled a list highlighting a few of these impressive projects, the ones that moved and motivated us to appreciate the immense progress made in the last few seemingly stagnant years. These selected projects demonstrate the creativity and innovation this industry promotes, and they highlight the core values the boutique lifestyle holds dear. 

April Brown & Sarah Sklash, The June Motel

The June Motel: Innovation, Creativity, and Redefining Travel Experiences 

This fun team of creative minds is working relentlessly to redefine how we see (and stay in) motels. Featured on Netflix’s ‘Motel Makeover,’ this lively pair of brilliant women is revamping the motel scene in a major way. Self-identified as a “hip boutique hotel brand,” April Brown and Sarah Sklash founded The June Motel concept which currently includes two locations; one near Toronto in Prince Edward County and the other in Sauble Beach, Canada.

Sarah and April began their hotelier journeys by buying and completely transforming an old fisherman motel into a new spot for millennials to visit the wine country in style. 

 “Our whole concept is to reimagine that experience of staying at a motel. Traditionally, you pull up, check into your room, [and essentially] it was a place to sleep. But we’re really more about creating an experience around that. We’ve invested a lot into communal spaces that bring people together,” said April. The Toronto location offers a big campfire to enjoy with fellow travelers at night and a bar serving local wine and beers. In Sauble Beach, a pool and a lush restaurant beckon visitors in to enjoy a community-oriented scene. “We spent a lot of time thinking about the experience of what we want motel culture to evolve into,” added April. From a glass of wine when checking in, to some picturesque art installations, this duo has taken the dingy and dim idea of the motel and transformed it into a bright and lively community space where travelers can mingle and enjoy themselves. 

The ambition and passion these women pour into their work is inspiring. They were entirely hands-on in the building process of their very first motel, doing all but plumbing and electrical themselves (with the help of their good friends and families). Curating the June Motel with power tools in their hands, these women are relentlessly working to carve out a new niche in the travel industry, catering to a demographic of travelers full of gratitude for their cool new vision. “Finding opportunities to continue being authentic, [as well as] sharing and creating communities is really important to us,” added Sarah. We cannot wait to see what other clever visions this duo has in store. 


AndBeyond’s Mindful Approach Leads the Way 

During a conversation titled “The Boutique Hotel Experience: Alfresco,” Nicole Robinson, the Chief Marketing Officer at andBeyond, shared the company’s innovative ideas she has been lucky enough to watch come to invigorating fruition. With 29 lodges, andBeyond offers guests a uniquely wild experience providing mystifying African-style safaris. 

AndBeyond began its mission 30 years ago with transparent core values. “Through the care of the land, wildlife, and people, and through the delivery of the extraordinary guest experience, we could leave our world a better place,” shared Nicole. This graceful pillar on which the company stands is a refreshing reminder to all within the travel industry. Luckily, their commitment to this concept didn’t dwindle during their 30-year success. In fact, the recent global pandemic presented them with an opportunity to prove their devotion to this mantra.  

What inspires us about the andBeyond boutique approach is the consistency in operating with these beliefs intact, even amidst a global pandemic. While most of andBeyond’s clients are based overseas, they faced a particularly difficult challenge navigating the ever-changing travel regulations throughout the past few years. While some bigger travel companies were forced to sacrifice employment numbers, andBeyond took a different approach to perseverance; one focused on preservation.  

“What ended up happening during that time is that we were pulled together through a really strong vision and our cause for success […] through this pandemic would be backing up our ship, rationing it, and getting to the other side of the storm where everybody’s still on board. […] We were able to maintain all our staff and specifically at the lower levels, keeping them as close as possible to 100% of their salaries. Specifically, in an African context, one person’s salary looks after another ten back home,” shared Nicole.  

Their mindful approach to maintaining a clear and wonderfully executed vision makes the boutique lifestyle stand out amongst other travel options. Ensuring people are taken care of and prioritizing the wellbeing and conservation of each unique land or community that boutique leaders so gracefully accomplish. (And) andBeyond executes this compassionate model so well. We hope to see more boutique brands sharing a similar vision as the travel industry grows. 

Entrepreneurs and Invigorating Concepts: HOY Hotel Paris 

Charlotte Gomez de Orozco opened her yoga-themed hotel in Paris two years ago. When people hear that this hotel is specifically a “yoga hotel,” Charlotte explains the intentional design constructed to facilitate a deeper connection with meditation and yoga. “We are a small boutique hotel. We have 21 rooms and two care rooms. [At HOY Hotel Paris] we have between 5 to 6 yoga classes each day at all levels,” Charlotte explained. The creators specifically designed the yoga studios to facilitate a deeper and more intentional practice. The studios are intentionally darkly lit to avoid distraction during training, and the heated spaces “allows for the body to be more relaxed, to go deeper into the practices, and to feel warm, like home,” she added. The approach to experiencing the hotel is very holistic, inviting guests to enjoy the retreat for their full-body, mind, and soul. 

The hotel also incorporates sustainable elements in addition to its yogi design. By banning plastic, filling their spaces with plants and flowers, and offering an entirely plant-based menu, the hotel hopes to provide a grounding environment for local visitors and international travelers. The attention to detail at HOY Hotel Paris is impressive, adding to the overall ‘Fung Shai’ flow. 

The HOY Hotel’s detail-oriented philosophy is something that makes this project uniquely boutique. Charlotte explained how the boutique hotel industry gets the opportunity to live within the communities by working with local suppliers and seasonal ingredients. She understands this is a special position. “Our price sometimes is higher than other hotels, but that’s the price of working with good products, working with good people,” said Charlotte. This perspective is the power of localized, small-scale experiences. By investing in businesses invested in local communities, tourists taste, experience, and support local culture and its people directly.  

“I think that is what makes boutique hoteliers a little bit different [from commercial hoteliers], is that [the hotel] really is an extension of your own home,” added Ariela Kiradjian, Partner and COO of BLLA. The HOY Hotel in Paris does an incredible job of making guests feel at home as well. 

All the incredibly unique experiences BLLA showcased at this year’s conference do a remarkable job of inviting travelers to interact with curated spaces on an intimate level. The personalities and creativity these individuals present to the world progress the travel industry to new heights and maintain ethical core values during difficult times. These are exciting examples of what it means to incorporate a boutique perspective into our lives, work, and travels – proudly prioritizing and sharing the fundamental goals of our visions.

Join us on October 24-25 for the Boutique Hotel Owners Conference live in Los Angeles! This will be the 11th annual gathering of what was formerly the Boutique Lifestyle Leadership Conference.

Learn more here!

You might like these too

An Interview with Richard Valtr

The BLLA Events Team sits down with Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews, and one of our facilitators from the 2023 Boutique Hotel Investment Conference on...

An Interview with Jason Pinto

The BLLA Events Team sits down with Jason Pinto, COO of Pace Revenue, and one of our facilitators from the 2023 Boutique Hotel Investment Conference ...