Mexico Boutique Hotels finished its five years of operation with its best room night and revenue production for its 31 member hotel collection. For a company that started out as a hotel association with a simple desire to foster awareness of a unique hotel product in Mexico, director general John Youden is proud of the tangible results. MBH closed 2004 with a total of 4808 room-nights and an average rate of US$302.00 for total revenue of $1.452 million; its best results since its foundation in 1999.
As well as offering a highly defined product, Youden attributes the results to a culmination of five years of strategic development backed by a penchant for guarding the company’s integrity in order to win public confidence. “We are in full growth mode, with travellers on both sides of the border recognizing Mexico Boutique Hotels as a trusted source for one of Mexico’s most authentic vacation experiences. Our national travel volume now equals that of international visitors.”
With international contemporaries such as Relais & Chateaux and Small Luxury Hotels, Youden says, “Our strength remains in our focus exclusively on Mexico and our integrity as the only company in the Republic that unifies the boutique niche of hotels under a strict qualification system.” The designation program created by MBH has been highly defined over the past five years. Youden has been so true to his vision of what qualifies as a Mexico Boutique Hotel that, in 2004, he turned away more applicants than he approved. He has maintained that scrutiny in the 2005 qualification process which was completed in March.
For Youden’s accomplishments and growth of this sector, he and the company were repeatedly recognized in 2004 by top Mexican and North American business and tourism publications. In the respected business publication Lideres Mexicanos (Mexican Leaders), he was listed as one of 30 top Mexico tourism influencers in a special tourism industry issue (September 2004), ranking as an innovator along with the national secretary of tourism, Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, and other major industry figures.
Conceived in 1998, Mexico Boutique Hotels was born out of Youden’s personal travel interest in this special category of hotel. He noticed the absence of information and difficulty of researching, reserving and, in many cases, physically reaching these authentic and exclusive hotels. As an editor of lifestyle and travel publications, he started to write about them and was subsequently inspired to form a networking association. By late 1999 the association evolved into a representation company with a development plan.
During 2000 and 2001 MBH launched different segments of its reservations service which now includes toll-free numbers throughout North America and Mexico, presence in the worldwide airline Global Distribution System (GDS), autmomatic on-line availability and a sophisticated bilingual Web site that also serves as a travel directory for Mexico in general. These initiatives, complemented by great attention from the national and international press, have collectively contributed to its expanding recognition today and Youden states,“the awareness has certainly culminated in concrete returns for our member hotels.”
This is confirmed by Mourad Essafi, director of sales of El Careyes Beach Resort & Spa and El Tamarindo Golf Resort & Spa, two hotels on the Pacific coast’s Costalegre that are part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, a well known international brand. Independently owned and little known at the time, both hotels were designated as Mexico Boutique Hotels at the organization’s inception, well before being adopted by Starwood. Says Essafi, “Youden’s vision and his team’s innovative initiatives have greatly contributed to our hotels’ awareness in a highly defined way, identifying them among an elite group, specifically in Mexico. The affiliation with Mexico Boutique Hotels complements and strengthens Starwood’s broader endeavours while yielding us an impressive contribution as our top producer for the past two years.”
Challenged with solicitations from a rising number of copycat organizations and marketing schemes, Leobardo Espinosa, owner of two inns in Puebla—Mesón Sacristía de la Compañía and Mesón Sacristía de Capuchinas—says the integrity and true purpose of Mexico Boutique Hotels has been paramount in keeping his hotels’ image defined. “Youden is the creator of a criteria system that has set a standard in the national hotel industry. We as members recognize it as the benchmark and the public has learned they can trust the MBH symbol as a sign of truly qualified standards.”
Puerto Vallarta-based Mexico Boutique Hotels is the only company of its kind exclusively dedicated to offering boutique-category lodging in Mexico under a qualification system. It is a diverse collection ranging from former palaces and haciendas to exotic beach resorts, from the colonial heartland to the coastal sun destinations. Membership in Mexico Boutique Hotels is by exclusive invitation after careful scrutiny of a hotel’s eligibility. Hotels are inspected annually to ensure standards are consistently high.
The boutique designation presupposes the best in taste, from design and setting to furnishings and food. Lodgings range in style and mood, some located in historic buildings, others an example of modern Mexican architecture; some rustic, others elegant. While individual style and character are key points in qualifying, the common elements of intimate size, idyllic settings, personalized service and excellent cuisine are traits that each hotel must possess.