Sector thrives as mainlanders beat a path to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2007, 12:00am

THE GROWING number of boutique hotels in Hong Kong is a result of relaxed laws on mainlanders travelling to Hong Kong, as well as a rise in the number of business travellers using Hong Kong as a gateway to the mainland.

Boutique hotels have fewer food and beverage outlets than mainstream hotels, but offer more specialised cuisine.

'One of the essential features for a trendy boutique hotel is furniture that can take your breath away,' said Allan Strahle, a veteran in the boutique hotel industry.

'It is important for the owner to see that his or her guests are proud to be staying in their hotel and will recommend it to friends and colleagues.'

There are several categories of boutique hotel in Hong Kong, depending on how the operator wants to position the hotel and the size of the investment involved.

The feel and style of a boutique hotel is very much based on the personal taste of the owner.

Material for the interiors of these hotels is sourced from all over the world and designers use multiple suppliers in their sourcing strategies.

William Hui Ho, design director of WCDC Design Consultant, said: 'It's a misconception that boutique hotels should be relatively cheaper than [other hotels]; that's not the case with the elite type of boutique hotel.'

A recently developed boutique hotel in Central, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel, is known for its elegant design and unparalleled hotel service.

The hotel's rack rates start from HK$3,000 a night and it has an occupancy rate of up to 80 per cent.

'The number of boutique hotels is expected to grow, so there will be more office-turned-hotel projects to take advantage of the rise in business,' Mr Ho said.

'Once the hotel operator finds a building that has all it takes to be developed into a boutique hotel, it is usually taken off the market in a short time.'