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Fashion

Luxury resort boutiques from Mexico to Amalfi Coast and Bali let travellers shop without leaving their hotel

Holidaying fashionistas can shop until they drop just a step from their suite at exotic destinations around the world, as hoteliers add luxury boutiques to their in-house attractions. Here are some of the best around

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 9:19am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 5:39pm

A swanky resort perched on top of a cliff overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea isn’t exactly the place you would expect to have the best shopping experience of your life. Thanks to a growing group of savvy hoteliers, however, this fashionista’s dream is fast becoming a reality.

Forget fashion capitals (or the beach for that matter), luxury resorts are the latest shopping destination for women looking to indulge in their penchant for designer clothes and accessories.

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In the past, hotel boutiques have traditionally been limited to holiday essentials such as sundries, magazines and maybe a local souvenir or two. More recently they have transformed into temples of chic that offer brands and items you can’t find anywhere else.

Leading the way is the stylish Marie-Louise Scio, heiress, creative director and vice-president of Pellicano Hotels, which owns and operates the legendary Il Pellicano and La Posta Vecchia hotels in Italy.

Her father, who bought Il Pellicano in the late 1970s, tasked her with the renovation of the hotel in 2006. It wasn’t long before the self-professed fashion lover began eyeing the hotel’s boutique.

“I started travelling and doing the buying, which was hard as the hotel is seasonal. When things started to sell quickly, I grew more confident. Each year since then it has been about pushing the envelope,” says Scio, who is a fan of understated brands like Rosetta Getty.

“We don’t have specific criteria but [the clothing] has be to good quality, easy yet elegant, well made and well executed. There’s nothing in the store that screams and yells, but you put it on and it works. “Our boutique is not like a shop in city where you really know a clientele. You need to have something for everyone.”

So while Il Pellicano’s boutique stocks designer resortwear and swimwear from the likes of Missoni and Eres, you can also find under-the-radar brands such as French label Jacquemus alongside Victoria Beckham, printed dresses from La Double J, A.P.C. T-shirts, clutches from Olympia Le-Tan and Buccellati jewellery.

Scio also hosts trunk shows each month, highlighting unknown names such as former Lanvin accessories designer Elie Top. To keep things exclusive, she frequently collaborates with other industry creatives or designers on capsule collections including Italian brand For Restless Sleepers (many of these are also available at sister property La Posta Vecchia). They even have a small in-house label, inspired by the uniform worn by the hotel staff, which is modelled on a vintage Saint Laurent outfit.

“One thing we have noticed is that people want to buy high fashion even though they are in a resort. They want unknown brands or something unique,” she says.

Another fashion hot spot in Italy can be found further south on the Amalfi Coast. While the Le Sirenuse hotel overlooks the bay of Positano, its three boutiques are situated on a small road across the street.

Curated by owner Carla Sersale, they sell menswear, womenswear, homewares and beauty products.

The fashion offerings include bright dresses by Diane Von Furstenberg and Missoni, but the biggest draw is their in-house clothing line for men and women, which includes printed kaftans, separates and even swimwear with eye-catching details.

It’s so popular that it’s stocked by retailers such as Net-a-Porter.com all year round while the hotel is closed in winter.

Exclusive designer collaborations are also a major draw for guests shopping at Hotel Esencia, in the very trendy resort town of Tulum in Mexico. The hotel recently collaborated with designer Jason Wu on a collection of cotton tops, skirts and dresses featuring feminine florals and stripes.

It’s available at their in-house store Retrobottega, which offers hip labels like Lisa Marie Fernandez, Gas Bijoux, Aurelie Bidermann, Lemlem and Ancient Greek Sandals.

“I curate a selection of garments and objects that have a special connection to the hotel. For example, many of the collections found here are created by designers that are friends of the owner or myself,” says Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, the boutique’s creative director.

Over in Bali the fashion scene is well established, with plenty of breezy resort wear and fashion boutiques. Canaan, at Katamama Hotel, however, is bringing its own fashionable twist. The boutique is the brainchild of Emmelyn Gunawan, who also owns Escalier, which sells edgy French and Japanese labels such as Comme des Garcons Play.

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When the hotel opened two years ago, she was brought in to create a boutique in keeping with the hotel’s vision, which celebrates local craft and design.

“It’s interesting because the hotel boutique died down many years ago but now you see them transforming into destinations in their own right,” says Gunawan.

For Canaan, she works with several Bali-based creatives – many of them Japanese designers – to produce chic items of clothing using high-quality fabrics, including their signature kimono and oversized shirts, alongside unique accessories such as rattan baseball hats and beach bags.

“Everything is manufactured locally using natural dye and local embroideries. Eighty-five per cent of our customers are hotel guests that appreciate the artisanal aspect but also want to see it applied to something trendy that you can wear every day. Yes, they love high fashion but they get that at home – here they come for something handcrafted,” says Gunawan.

While independent hotels seem to be leading the charge, larger chains are also upping their fashion game. One & Only Resorts has launched the NEO boutique at several of its properties, including those in Cape Town, Mauritius and The Maldives, featuring a curated selection of established and up-and-coming designers for men and women.

Top picks include boho dresses from Zimmermann, casual pieces from Three Graces and cocktail dresses from London-based Self Portrait, which will match perfectly with shoes by Aquazzura and Alexandre Birman. Guests can also shop from several collections designed exclusively for the store, including Melissa Odabash swimwear and Marie France Van Damme dresses.

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Five Resort Boutiques You Can’t Miss

The Boutique at Il Pellicano, Tuscany, Italy, www.hotelilpellicano.com

Canaan at Katamama, Seminyak, Bali, www.katamama.com

Neo boutiques at One & Only Resorts (worldwide), www.oneandonlyresorts.com 

Retrobottega at La Esencia, Tulum, Mexico, hotelesencia.com

Emporio Le Sirenuse at Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy, emporiosirenuse.com