The U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, owners of the Holiday Inn brand, announced today it will acquire Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Group LLC, the largest independent boutique-hotel operator in the U.S., for $430 million. It’s a move the InterContinental hopes will help it establish some design cred and compete with rivals in the boutique-hotel corner of the hospitality market.
Founded in 1981 and based in San Francisco, Kimpton operates 62 hotels in 28 cities across the US, as well as 71 restaurants, bars and lounges. Its hotels are known for stylish design and lively bar scenes–some have floor-to-ceiling bookcases and playfully designed minibars; others have free wine hours every night. Hotels include New York’s hip Ink48 and Muse Hotel; as well as two trendy sub-brands, the Hotel Monaco, with locations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.; and the Hotel Palomar. InterContinental plans to make Kimpton’s brand, well, intercontinental, with new locations in Europe in Asia.
Boutique hotels make up one of the fastest-growing segments in the lodging sector. Intimate in size, with between 10 to 100 rooms, boutique lodgings strive to be one-of-a-kind in their decor and ambiance instead of offering the same cookie-cutter designs in each location. (Kimpton’s website advertises its lodgings as “A different way to stay.”)
As to whether a major company like InterContinental can maintain Kimpton’s independent boutique hotel vibe remains to be seen. But InterContinental has already dabbled in the boutique segment with its Hotel Indigo chain, which it calls “the industry’s first branded boutique hotel experience,” and which maintains a unique design flavor with seasonally changing artwork and music.