Hotels aren't just places for sleeping, eating, and drinking. They're also great for shopping. It used to be that the gift shop at a hotel would have nothing more than postcards, T-shirts, and sundries such as toothpaste and pretzels.
Over the years, retail spaces in hotels across the country have evolved into much more. Hotels are putting much more thought into their retail spaces, in some cases going for luxury, in others simply trying to represent the local community.
"Our CEO had a vision that a five-star hotel or just a great property in a great city should be able to offer more than just toothpaste and gum in a sometimes disappointing environment," she says.
Bush calls them "lifestyle stores." She says she tries to tailor each shop to the needs of the particular destination. Maybe guests at one location want beach bags. Maybe they want a cocktail dress at another.
Either way, Bush tries to present unique products in a unique setting.
Bush spoke to Hotel Check-in while at the Intercontinental Miami hotel, where she is in the process of converting a small space into a lifestyle store by the fall. Her vision: Have some basics available for business travelers such as snacks and juices but also offer fun jewelry and other trinkets for the leisure traveler.
Sometimes, she has to go to a property and make drastic changes. The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico used to have one basic boutique with a few sundries and items of clothing. Now it has 6,300 square feet of stores that include a regional gourmet market and a women's and men's clothing store.
"It creates another destination in the resort," she says.
Some guests may not even know that a hotel store is a hotel store because many have their own storefronts. That tends to appeal to locals, whom hotels are constantly courting, Bush says.
The M29 boutique at the Four Seasons Washington, for example, could be a stand-alone store in trendy Georgetown. But manager Allyson Wilder says the shop benefits from having a spot at the Four Seasons property. "You have a captive audience," she says.
There's no toothpaste at M29 but there are plenty of chic outfits for women and children, jewelry, bags, candles, and much more.
"It's a place that adds buzz," Bush says.
By Nancy Trejos
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