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HVS Report – Takeaways from the 2024 Boutique Hotel Investment Conference by BLLA: Reviving the Spirit of Boutique Hotels – By Marcus R. Lee

A boutique hotel room - Unsplash+

FIAF Florence Gould Hall Theater was bustling in early June with another successful Boutique Hotel Investment Conference. Kudos to the BLLA team for executing a great event! This article presents some key takeaways from HVS attendees Patricia Shih (HVS Consulting & Valuation) and Marcus Lee (HVS Asset Management & Advisory).

FIAF Florence Gould Hall Theater was bustling in early June with another successful Boutique Hotel Investment Conference. Kudos to the BLLA team for executing a great event! This article presents some key takeaways from HVS attendees Patricia Shih (HVS Consulting & Valuation) and Marcus Lee (HVS Asset Management & Advisory).

In the ever-evolving landscape of hospitality, the term “boutique hotel” has transformed. Once synonymous with personalized service, unique design, and intimate experiences, “boutique hotels” as a phrase has recently blended with some nationally branded and soft-branded property types. Furthermore, the allure of aesthetics, trendy amenities, and Instagram-worthy designs have lately overshadowed the essence that made a boutique property truly special—exceptional service and memorable experiences.

A Return to the Fundamentals

The rise of soft brands and nationally branded boutique hotels has blurred the lines between these property types. The term “lifestyle boutique” now encompasses a wide spectrum, from independently owned gems to chic, boutique-style properties affiliated with major hotel chains. While this diversity is enriching, it also dilutes the spirit. Attendees and speakers at the conference emphasized the importance of reclaiming the distinction of “true” lifestyle boutique hotels.

Experts, hoteliers, and operators alike emphasized the pivotal role that service plays in defining a boutique hotel, and this topic resurfaced repeatedly. It’s not just about checking in and out; it’s about creating magical memories. Guests should feel like cherished friends, not room numbers. Teams should be coached on how to weave experiences, anticipate needs, and surprise guests with thoughtful gestures. Service is the secret ingredient that transforms a stay into a cherished memory.

Here are some fundamental attributes of lifestyle boutique hotels, as outlined during the BLLA:

Asset Management to Mitigate Rising Costs

Shifting to ownership and operational matters, independent boutique hotel owners often lack access to the extensive benchmarks and data sets available to properties affiliated with major national brands. Thus, they can significantly benefit from working alongside an experienced and knowledgeable third-party asset manager who can compensate for this data disparity. Asset managers bring expertise in market analysis, personalized revenue management, cost benchmarking, and cost optimization strategies. These skills can enable boutique hotel owners to effectively navigate rising costs, maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace, and protect the bottom line.

Investor Interest in Boutique Properties

On the investment side, investors have remained interested in boutique hotels for several reasons:

Creative Capital Solutions

Despite the currently tight capital markets environment, boutique hotel buyers and developers continue to have access to a variety of creative financing solutions to support their ventures. Options include leveraging U.S. government-backed programs such as USDA loans, utilizing EB-5 financing for attracting foreign investments, establishing partnerships with smaller community banks that might offer more favorable terms, and considering recourse loans that provide additional security to lenders.


Authentic boutique hotels continue to attract investors due to their flexibility in operations and lack of brand constraints, allowing for rapid adjustment to market demands and strategic vision implementation from day one. Experienced asset managers can help owners enhance this value by optimizing financial and operational strategies. In terms of guest experience, reviving the spirit of “boutique” hotels will allow service to be the guiding star, authenticity to be the compass, and community to be the heartbeat. It is time to redefine luxury, one heartfelt interaction at a time.

About Marcus R. Lee

Marcus leads Business Development for the HVS Asset Management & Advisory division across the United States. Based in Los Angeles, he provides clients with a full array of third-party asset management services, hotel performance analyses, and brand and operator search and selection solutions. He is also the Asset Manager for two full-service hotels, which includes oversight of a $12-million, brand-mandated property improvement plan. In addition to his asset management expertise, Marcus has conducted feasibility and market studies, development consulting, brand and operator search and selection, and valuations, with an aggregate value of over $10 billion. His experience spans the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America, ranging from limited-service hotels to ultra-luxury resort-residential assets. He is a state-certified general appraiser. Contact Marcus at +1 (310) 614-9945 or

About Patricia Shih

Based in the Manhattan office of HVS, Patricia Shih has more than 15 years of experience in hospitality, including hotel appraisal and market study assignments across the eastern United States. She spent more than a decade under the Hilton Worldwide umbrella, in roles ranging from Sales Representative to Corporate Sales Manager at Hilton’s Embassy Suites Atlanta Perimeter Center. She formerly worked in management roles at the Harvey Hotel and Harvey Suites – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, as well as at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Downtown Dallas. Patricia earned her BBA in Strategic Management with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior from the University of North Texas. Contact Patricia at (404) 791-5509 or

About Lizzette Casarin

Lizzette Casarin is Senior Director, Marketing – HVS Americas. Lizzette earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico. In her current role, Lizzette oversees and executes the marketing for the region. Working with the Mexican government’s FOBAPROA and IPAB programs, Lizzette assisted with the logistics for the sale and reorganization of several large hotel portfolios in Mexico. She also has experience in restaurant management. Contact Lizzette at 720-310-5118 or

Posted by on June 17, 2024.

Categories: Trends

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