One of the buzzy topics at a recent conference I attended was the move by West Elm, the style-minded home furnishings company, to open a collection of boutique hotels in U.S. cities such as Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Savannah, Georgia; and Portland, Maine. The hotels (outfitted, naturally, with the company’s products) are “focused on achieving consistency of the West Elm aesthetic,” a company executive explained to an industry magazine. “We want the experience of walking into a West Elm hotel to evoke a similar feeling of walking into a West Elm store — but have the opportunity to extend this.”
Meanwhile, just last week I was on a trip to Detroit, whose much-heralded downtown renaissance has been accompanied by the launch of a bunch of boutique hotels. One of the most anticipated offerings, scheduled to open later this fall, is the Shinola Hotel, owned by the Detroit-based maker of watches, bicycles, backpacks, and other consumer items. Shinola has retail stores across the country for its products. But this hotel, which will anchor a complex of residences, restaurants, and shops, is meant to showcase the Shinola brand and the Detroit spirit on which it is based. “In the shift from a retail/consumer products brand to a lifestyle and 360-degree design brand,” one analysis noted, “the Shinola Hotel is paying as much attention to detail as its artisans pay to its timepieces and other items.” Read more at Harvard Business Review.