Boutique Design’s 2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers are making their marks with niche hotel concepts that sell to Main Street and Wall Street.
Why the world needed another hotel company: “People who regularly travel to New York, Chicago or LA want that same type of hotel experience when they go to Minneapolis, Milwaukee or Cincinnati. They want that lifestyle in their community. Many secondary markets don’t offer that. Kevin and I saw an opportunity to fill that void. From the outset, we decided we didn’t want to go into major markets, nor did we want to develop big-box projects that catered primarily to the SMERF (social, military, educational, religious and fraternal) business. And, we wanted a group of individual hotels, not a ‘brand.’ It would have been a great deal easier to leverage the success of, for example, The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, which is managed by Aparium Hotel Group, by just reproducing it in other markets. But, that would be saying, ‘Hey, Minneapolis! This is what we’re bringing.’ We didn't want to force a community to choke down a hotel concept from another market that wasn't authentic or indigenous to that city. For Kevin and me, every project starts with a white board.”
Detroit Foundation Hotel. Photo: Courtesy of Aparium Hotel Group
What designers need to know: “Adaptive reuse is tricky. The designer needs to learn how to build out billable hours. ‘Overtime’ isn’t always about things we as clients are asking. There are government regulations; issues with the buildings and problems with on-site discoveries. If they’re doing a project for us, it won’t be modular; the spaces won’t be the same. So they’ll probably have to do more drawings, more CA, more RFIs. We point out to firms that they have to be realistic in making their proposed budgets or risk losing money. In some cases, we’ve suggested building out the original budget to make sure the designer can deliver the work and still be fairly compensated.”
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