In the ‘90’s Molton Brown became the hotel and hospitality brand of choice and its profile escalated. In the
Frontrunner Cowshed was created for uber trendy spas in the 2000s.
2000s, Cowshed - created specifically for the uber trendy spa of the same name at the UK’s Babington House – and Green & Spring for Cowley Manor were popular frontrunners for a new generation of dedicated hotel/spa brands.
The luxury hotel and spa brand collaboration has gone from strength to strength (the famed Dior Institut at the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris, to name but one) as savvy brands pursue alternative distribution opportunities for ‘brand building’. And why wouldn’t they…it’s a win-win situation for both parties. The hotel benefits from the experience and credibility the beauty brand brings whilst the brand is able to expose its products and treatments to a select group of affluent – and usually influential – customers.
But this route is not just an excusive marketing and distribution channel for the high end and designer luxury brands. As the definition of luxury continues to shift on an ever-changing axis so does the opportunity. Enter the Boutique Hotel. The boutique sector is, of course, still about luxury but does encompass everything from the smallest and chicest to the ultimate far-flung location destinations. And although Europe currently seems to have the monopoly on the changing face of the Boutique sector, Boutique is now big business the world over.
Held in London in May, the second Boutique Hotel Summit not only bears testament to this but, with a whole section of the agenda dedicated to beauty and spa, the inextricable importance of beauty to the boutique business plan should not be ignored.
The boutique tag remains largely undefined, simply acting as an umbrella term for destinations with a distinctive property– be that pure and simple eco heaven, shabby chic bohemia or stark and minimalist expression… This favors the smaller and start-up brands and opens up a world of possibility for them as they try to find the correct niche and fit for their brand – and for boutique hotels looking for the right beauty brand to complete their holistic experience.
Just as we are looking to the boutique sector as a way of exercising personal choice and discovery, so
The Scarlet Spa stocks Voya, an organic range of seaweed-based products from Ireland.
these locations are trying to maximize the opportunity and desirability by finding new or more unique brands to match their ethos and location. The Scarlet is an award-winning eco hotel and spa based in the far west of Cornwall. It has already developed its own Scarlet range (using local sea salt, Cornish clay and indigenous herbs). Following Cowshed’s lead, many boutique retreats may choose this option as a way to build and extend their own brand. But many others offer a select choice, a choice that perfectly fits the overall package. Complementing both the location and its own range, The Scarlet Spa also stocks ‘Voya’ - an organic range of seaweed-based products from the north west coast of Ireland www.voya.ie.
As more boutique retreats appear and competition increases, the beauty offer may well be one of the deciding factors for the consumer. And for new beauty brands still going through the trials of getting listed in store, this could present an amazing vertical marketing opportunity to form a partnership and know that you are hitting your target consumer with the complete brand experience, first time, every time… And, as this alliance grows and develops, Boutique Beauty may just coin its own corner of the market.