5 Minutes with Anine Bing

In Hollywood speak, Anine Bing is a triple threat, the former model and singer heads a self-named fashion empire.

Interviewed by Ariela Kiradjian, Co-Founder, Stay Boutique
Originally published in the Stay Boutique Magazine, Summer 2018 Edition

Her self-named brand launched in 2013 and has been dominating ever since it exploded onto the scene. Designed with the city girl in mind, her line can be found in hundreds of boutiques all across the globe.

When you’re in “the zone” while working on your line, what is your go-to song to get motivated?
I listen to really mellow music when I’m working on the line, it keeps me focused.. I love anything by The Cranberries.

You’re at Sant Ambroeus in Soho for brunch, what’s your favorite order?
Love Sant Ambroeus. My team and I always make sure to stop by when we’re in New York, because we're usually staying in Soho. I usually order the avocado toast.

Which vintage Chanel item in your closet are you obsessed with at the moment?
My new furry Chanel bag from Rice & Beans Vintage. I’m loving fuzzy textures right now.

What’s your favorite NYC coffee shop?
La Colombe is great, or Intelligentsia at the High Line Hotel has a really cozy vibe.

Moto jacket or denim jacket?
So tough.. Leather and denim are my two favorites, but I think I have to go with moto jacket, it's such a classic.

Instastories or Snapchat?
Instagram for sure.

Netflix or Hulu?
We don't have TV in our house so neither really... But my husband got us all a projector for Christmas, so sometimes we watch movies together on the weekends as a family.

Sunday morning jog or sunday morning bloody mary?
I wish I could say jog, but I'm so busy running the business I don't get too much time for exercise these days... Usually on the weekends, we'll go on a family hike up Griffith Park, which is right in our backyard... Most days I make an almond milk latte in the morning, and on weekends, spend the rest of the day hanging with family and friends in our backyard, cooking, and spending time together. 

Check out some images from her store in the West Village, NY

Anine Bing-Stay Boutique
Anine Bing
Anine Bing-Stay Boutique




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In an industry that has long been mired in its old ways, we are seeing a renewed approach to how the hospitality industry informs their clientele from an aesthetic standpoint – through a refresh on design, style, ambiance, and most of all, experience.

The guiding principle for this fresh perspective is an understanding that a little disruption goes a long way. Acute attention to detail has become just as important as a comfy bed. We now see discerning guests showing a predilection to spend money on experience rather than goods. They expect that experience to be an intriguing sensorial event that invokes their passions and creates unique memories.  

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It is in this spirit that the uniform, once relegated to staid catalogues and a “one size fits all” approach, is now a major part of the design language that inform a brand’s DNA and guest experience. The uniform is no longer the sum of “uni” and “form” – but is now a tool that nonverbally communicates – “this is who we are.”

Your staff is the front line of your brand. From the moment a guest checks in to the moment they check out, almost every interaction is with a member of the staff. There becomes an instant disconnect in the brand narrative when a catalogue-ordered polyester vest and ill-fitting pant is juxtaposed against an expertly edited interior and perfectly manicured soundtrack. Your staff is an extension of your property – and their look becomes just as important as the architectural details that house them.


We firmly believe the uniform is an essential part of a hotel’s storytelling. The uniform, in and of itself, is an experiential touchpoint. Style, character, personality and individuality are all part of the perception of your brand. Ultimately, the story of your brand is told by the people who work there. Not to mention, that when people look good, they feel good, and ultimately do better work.

A good uniform should remain, at its core, workwear. Durability, functionality and sustainability should always be at the core – but no longer at the sacrifice of style. The clothing should be so well-intentioned in its design that by elevating its wearer, it in turn elevates the hotel as a whole.

When designing uniforms, our challenge to ourselves is always “would we wear this?”. Our intent is to create pieces that are so design-driven that when staff get off shift, they won’t feel the need to immediately change to meet up with friends for after work dinner or drinks. Simply put, we filter every piece through the lens of the anti-uniform. And just as no two hotels are the same, no two design explorations follow the same path. Each property receives a fully bespoke program -  grounded in their individual brand narrative and geographic location. This entirely personalized approach ensures that no two uniform arrangements will ever be duplicated in whole.

At the start of every design exploration, the fundamental rule we address is fit and proportion. In many cases, the updating of silhouette can make all the difference. With a few simple updates to length, cut, and even the size of a lapel, a look can instantly become a modern update on a classic. It’s then that we begin to drill down into specifics on fabric, color palettes, tailoring, accessories, trims, buttons, and other details that bring the uniform to life.

The discerning traveler has come to expect that each and every hotel experience is defined by the “little things.” It is this ethos to which we prescribe - starting with a sound foundation on every level, then layering in the minute details and surprises. You’d be amazed at how far a well-intentioned lapel pin goes.

Greg Sato

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Books Every Boutique & Lifestyle Person Should Read Part II

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The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

By Arianna Huffington

“In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives -- and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

In today's fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important – and elusive -- than ever. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.” -Synopsis from Amazon Books.

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The Intelligent Investor

By Benjamin Graham

“Benjamin graham inspired people everywhere in the world and is known to be the most famous investment advisor of the 20th century. His book The Intelligent Investor is recognized and believed to be the stock market bible since it was published in 1949 because of Graham's philosophy called value investing which explains to investors how to develop long term strategies and prevent errors. Famous investor, Warren Buffett, has described this book as the best book on investing ever written. The intelligent Investor teaches us how to reach our goals financially and how to avoid the calculated risks involved. This book has become famous as being imperative for everyone in the business of investing. Our market has come a long way and the advancements are a proof of graham's take on finance, his plans and ideas...” – Synopsis from Amazon Books

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The Story of Art

By E.H. Gombrich

“The Story of Art, one of the most famous and popular books on art ever written, has been a world bestseller for over four decades. Attracted by the simplicity and clarity of his writing, readers of all ages and backgrounds have found in Professor Gombrich a true master, and one who combines knowledge and wisdom with a unique gift for communicating his deep love of the subject...” – Synopsis from Amazon Books


The Innovator’s Dilemma

By  Clayton M. Christensen

“Jeff Bezos also had his executives read ‘The Innovator's Dilemma,’ one of the all-time most influential business books and a top pick of several other founders and VCs, whose reviews are below. Steve Blank, a former serial entrepreneur who now teaches at U.C. Berkeley and other schools, says of the book: ‘Why do large companies seem and act like dinosaurs? Christensen finally was able to diagnose why and propose solutions. Entrepreneurs should read these books as 'how to books' to beat large companies in their own markets. ‘Chris Dixon, an investor at Andreessen Horowitz and a former cofounder and CEO of Hunch, notes: ‘ 'The Innovator's Dilemma' popularized the (often misused) phrase 'disruptive technology,' but there's a lot more than that one big idea. Great insights into the 'dynamics' (changes over time) of markets." – Synopsis from Bianca Male, Aimee Groth and Alison Griswold from Business Insider

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The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

“The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.” – Synopsis from Amazon Books

Interview with Alexandre Soleyman

Alexandre Soleyman
Founder, The Well Traveled Trunk
The Well Traveled Trunk is the passion project and NYC based company founded by Alexandre Soleyman. It follows Soleyman as he transforms the iconic Louis Vuitton luggage trunks into timeless, handmade works of art. Signaling class and wealth for over a century, these functional pieces of history are finding a renewed appreciation from boutique hotel patrons thanks to Soleyman and his impassioned efforts

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What is your story?
Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland I studied hotel & business management in Lausanne. Living in a very sheltered environment, I was determined to experience something different, more dynamic and decided to pack my bags and try New York, pretty much right after graduating from College. I did then work in Corporate for several years until I decided to take a chance and solely focus on a hobby that truly became a passion over the year, vintage traveling trunks.

Where does your passion for vintage Louis Vuitton trunks come from?
I remember entering an antique boutique in south of France as a young kid and recall immediately being drowned by a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk and by everything that such object could evoque to a 10 years old mind… being secrets, treasures, royalties, adventures and of course travels. Almost two decades later I finally had the opportunity to acquire one and never stopped collecting ever since.

Where do you envision your trunks living?
For over 150 years those trunks have accompanied royalties, great explorers and prominent figures to the most prestigious Hotels and Palaces around the globe. Much more than just a large a piece of luggage, trunks seem to have naturally overturned their functionality and are now to be seen in sophisticated living space adding a distinctive and mystical touch to any room. Undeniably linked to the hotel industry and history, their wears and numerous traveling labels tell as much of a story as the photographs that one would take on a journey. Today it’s no surprise to see traveling trunks making a “comeback” in sophisticated boutique hotels but this time to be displayed as a unique and iconic conversation piece, celebrating what was once known as the glamorous and golden age of travel.

As a traveler, do you believe there has been a rise in popularity with boutique hotels?
Absolutely. Trends have shown that today a new generation of world travelers is seeking a more tailored, intimate and unique experience only to be find in human scale and size hotels, offered through its esthetic, atmosphere and ultra-personalized service.

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What is your vision with The Well Traveled Trunk in terms of expansion?
I always believed in the concept of #oldisthenewnew and since that the interest for ‘vintage’ has drastically grown over the years, my idea is simply to continue to share, expend and convey my passion for this legendary object destined to live through for many future generations.

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What is your favorite city to travel to?
Back home to Geneva in the Summer time…

What is your favorite restaurant in New York City?

How do you take your coffee?
Vivalto Lungo (from Nespresso)– black!

What is your favorite fashion trend of the moment?

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A Day In The Life...

Tammy Farley
President, The Rainmaker Group


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What time do you normally get up?

I’m an early riser. I’m usually up by 6 a.m. or 6:30 a.m.

What’s your early morning routine?

I try to start every day with a protein bar and a workout. But, more often, it’s a conference call, a few text messages, emails and coffee. (laughs)

 What kind of workout do you do? Do you have a specific routine?

I really enjoy my Peloton bike and try to ride every day that I’m not traveling. I’m naturally competitive, and I love that I can connect with other riders and take classes with real live instructors in real time. Plus, it tracks my progress toward my fitness goals. (Did I mention that I’m competitive?) And, although I’m not a runner, I recently completed a half marathon at Walt Disney World with my daughter. It was so much fun to share that experience with her.

How do you get to work?

I drive to work. My office and home are both located in the northeast Atlanta suburbs. It’s a short commute.

Give me a quick overview of your company.

The Rainmaker Group provides cloud-based revenue and profit optimizations software solutions to hotels, resorts and casinos. I co-founded the company with a colleague in 1998, and we now have customers around the globe and offices in Atlanta, Singapore and Dubai. For the last seven years, we’ve been named to Inc. 5000’s list of ‘Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies’, and we were recently included in the 2018 HotelTechReport list of ‘Top 10 Places to Work in Hotel Tech’. I’m especially proud of the Rainmaker team. We have a talented and dedicated group of employees who are committed to our customers and our products. Our work environment is very positive. We’re always encouraging each other to step out of our comfort zones and tackle the next big challenge. And our customers are a true extension of the Rainmaker family. We host an annual user conference at a luxury resort where we offer panel discussions, educational talks, and plenty of fun time, too. It’s one of the highlights of our year.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work in the morning?

I usually catch up on industry news and then walk around the office and talk with the team. I like to get a feel for what our priorities are for the day, and there’s no better way to find out than to catch up first-hand.

 What’s a typical workday like?

My primary job is to spearhead sales and customer-related operations, so I’m always asking what we’re doing to make sure clients are getting what they need. Are we delivering the right features? Are we listening to our customers? I meet regularly with the customer experience team to make sure installations and support are the best they can be. I’m also responsible for growing the business, so I’m constantly talking with employees to make sure we’re generating new prospects and exploring partnerships that will propel the business forward and help our customers optimize profitability.

And, of course, I’m involved in product strategy meetings. We regularly update our solutions to incorporate the features and functionality customers want. And, as we grow the hotel and resort side of the business, there’s always the conversation about how to help hotels do what casinos have done for so long, which is to earn the loyalty of their most profitable guests. I’m constantly challenging our team to help hoteliers define loyalty. It’s typically not about the number of room nights a guest stays on property.

I also want to make sure we have the right integrations with other software solutions, such as property management systems and customer relationship management solutions. So, I regularly talk with other solution providers to make sure we’re delivering the integrations customers want. The hospitality industry is about relationships, and I see my primary role as building those relationships – with customers, employees, partners, and developers.

Are you involved in activities outside of work?

Yes, I’m involved in several philanthropic endeavors, including helping to build a school in Zambia and a soccer field for boys in Uganda. And, almost every day, I’m doing something for Make-a-Wish Georgia. I’ve been involved with the organization for many years, and I’m currently the Board Chair. There’s nothing more rewarding than making children’s wishes come true, especially when those children are battling critical illnesses. I’m also involved in several hospitality-related organizations, including the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), where I serve on the Revenue Management Advisory Board.

What time do you typically leave the office?

I try to leave the office by 6 p.m.

What do you do in the evening?

I travel a lot, so when I’m home, it’s as peaceful and quiet as we can make it. Most evenings, I enjoy dinner at home, catching up on TV shows I missed, and finishing ‘Spelling Bee’ in the Sunday New York Times.

What’s your favorite city to travel to?

That’s a tough one, but if I had to choose, it would be New York City. It’s such an exciting and vibrant place, and the fact that my daughter lives there makes it even more so. It’s fun to visit her and explore the city together. She works in the fashion industry, so we do a lot of bonding through shopping excursions!

What’s your favorite TV show? Are you binge watching anything?

My guilty pleasure is mindless reality TV, so I love The Bachelor, Vanderpump Rules, and all things HGTV. I’m getting ready to binge watch Downton Abbey, and I can’t wait!

What are you reading right now?

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

And, finally, the big question. . . flip-flops or heels?

Oh, that’s a hard one. Can I say both? (laughs)

Where to Lift Your Pinky all Around the World

Check at the Stay Boutique Crew’s favorite places for high tea

The Peninsula Hong Kong

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Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Classic Afternoon Tea
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

“The Peninsula’s rituals are rooted in British custom as The Duchess of Bedford is credited with launching the fashion of afternoon tea in 1830.  By the 1840s, wafer-thin slivers of bread encasing thinly sliced cucumber and platters of light sponge cakes were served in the new tea gardens of Vauxhall and Marylebone and by later Victorian years, tea was a well-established meal with its own distinctive array of foods, including savoury sandwiches, hot teacakes, English muffins or scones.  Tea was a time to share gossip and show off one’s prettiest teapots and china, so hostesses vied with each other to produce the most refined sweetmeats and elegant table settings.The Peninsula extends this tradition by serving tea in cups of eggshell-thin bone china, in the magnificent The Lobby, with its celebrated classical columns and gargoyles.”

Rocco Forte’s Brown’s Hotel

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Afternoon Tea at The English Tea Room
London, United Kingdom

“The English Tea Room at Rocco Forte’s Brown’s Hotel serves the most famous afternoon tea in London. The sophisticated and stylish interior is traditional yet modern thanks to the original wood paneling, fire places and Jacobean detailed plaster ceiling and contemporary style with Paul Smith lighting, fashionable fabrics and original artworks. There is a unique installation of artworks curated by The John Martin Gallery on display…Brown’s Hotel is pleased to offer a traditional Gong Fu Tea Set, as part of their specially curated ‘Seasonal Tea Library’ menu. Brown’s has recognised the growing trends in fine tea appreciation and, together with JING, are taking their afternoon tea service to another level. Chinese in essence but modern in form, JING’s Gong Fu Tea Set equips tea connoisseurs and new comers alike with all they need to enjoy an uplifting tea ceremony. Hand crafted by master glass makers, the set comprises a teapot, pitcher, and elegant twin walled cups. Presented atop a bamboo water tray, this authentic approach to tea preparation is rooted in Asian tradition, stylishly preserving its very essence.”

The Pierre, a Taj Hotel

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Afternoon Tea at Two E Bar
New York City, U.S.A.

The Langham Xintiandi
Hotel de Crillon
Nigiro South Africa

The Tea Room QVB


Sydney, Australia

The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah

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Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Feeling The Fragrance

The importance of evoking emotion through signature scents.
Shelley Callaghan & Susanne Pruitt
Antica Farmacista

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As soon as you step foot into your favorite hotel, the scent surrounds you. It may be the intoxicating fragrance of night blooming jasmine, plumeria, tuberose, and gardenia at the Royal Hawaiian, or the energizing notes of lemon, neroli, and jasmine at The Hotel Bel-Air. You take a deep breath and all of your tension and stress melt away. Your vacation has officially begun.

Today, scent seems to permeate the “must have” list of amenities that are commonly found in the luxury boutique hotel world. And we are thrilled to hear it. As fragrance creators, we firmly believe in the power of scent. But we really don’t need fragrance. What we do ‘need’ is the emotion that fragrance invokes.

It’s scientifically accepted that our sense of smell is directly linked to our memory and emotion. Simply put, when we smell something, we feel something. A scent can conjure a forgotten memory from our childhood or from years past: the aroma of an apple pie baking, the tang of the ocean, the metallic scent of snow, the scent of a mother’s perfume or a father’s aftershave. A scent can make us feel at home or on a wild adventure. Scent is the first thing our brain recognizes; it’s not a thought, but a feeling.

A feeling. A signature. That’s the mark of the best luxury boutique hotels. They strive to emotionally connect with a client and evoke an emotion. Each hotel is unique, and guests tend to gravitate to one or the other based on their desires. Every element is selected with the intention of creating their signature ambiance and emotion. The lighting, the music, the books on the entry table, the impeccable attention to detail; these are the things that create a feeling of place. The goal is to create a rare experience built on exemplary comfort and luxury. And the emotion evoked by carefully designed fragrance is the magnetic hook that will not only capture your guests, but will keep them hooked. 

How do you develop a magnetic signature fragrance? After more than a decade of experience, we have learned to observe, to experience, to feel our way through fragrance development. Our deep passion for these projects originated with retail customers like Bergdorf Goodman, Takashimaya, and Lane Crawford. To establish a scent direction, we researched regional trends, investigated shopping habits, and developed an aesthetic understanding of each clientele. Though each retailer catered to an affluent customer, each fragrance and end product needed to possess their own signature through candles, home ambiance diffusers, room sprays, and bath and body products.

In 2008, we targeted The Hotel Bel-Air. We consulted with management, concierges, and retail. We then developed a collection of fragrances that captured the essence and the emotion of the Bel Air Property: an orange blossom fragrance that echoed the exquisite neroli trees near the Hotel Bel-Air entrance bridge, and a deep tobacco,musk, and night blooming jasmine fragrance that mirrored the evening fires set on terracotta patios. Antica/Bel Air diffusers and candles were scattered throughout the property, complemented by a custom-created shampoo, conditioner, body moisturizer and body wash collection.  

Fast forward ten years: not only has the desire to diffuse fragrance throughout hotels grown, but the technologies have improved dramatically. We developed a full range of products, from multiple scent HVAC diffusion, housekeeping room sprays, diffusers, candles, and in-room bath and body amenities to massage oils, bubble bath, and more.

Custom-scented products also afford great retail opportunities, whether in a gift shop or in-room availability. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Montage Resorts are two of our partners that employ this strategy, with VIP gifts and sophisticated reminders for clients to “come again.”

There certainly is a method to the madness in the creation of a fragrance story. The scent must be subtle but noticeable at the first touch point, the lobby. We recommend greeting guests with a soothing, beautiful scent. A scent diffused through the HVAC system is the most effective in larger spaces and will establish an emotional connection. We also love to reinforce the emotional quality of the scent by introducing it in unexpected places. Our method? We take the key ingredients from a scent and use those creatively throughout the hotel. For our Ritz Carlton NYC Central Park scent, with notes of elderflower, quince, and cherry blossom, we created a map for guests of Central Park with locations where the ingredients are found. We also created a signature cocktail found on the bar menu. We believe that extraordinary experiences are elevated by the emotion of scent.

Clients often want to know what type of fragrances work best, but there is no single answer to this. Scent is incredibly subjective. Experience has shown that we are not appealing to the masses in the luxury boutique hotel market. We are defining a unique experience, collaborating with the hotel, and identifying their client. We consider a variety of factors throughout this process, including hotel aesthetics: modern or traditional? Is there a regional scent preference or aversion? Physical location of the hotel: mountainous ski resort or beachfront retreat? 

We often compare a luxury boutique hotel experience to that of an extraordinary home environment. Granted, our friends might not have interiors like most luxury hotels, but ultimately there is a richness, a splendor, and a homey quality that we find inviting. And scent is rarely missing from a well-appointed, personalized home. Whether an exotic scent built on amber, tobacco and leather…or a waterfront beach vibe built on marine notes and bright citrus, the signature scent story that our friends create in their home is the exact type of ambiance and emotion we create for hotels.

Different fragrances create different emotional experiences. Ask yourself, what do you want your client to feel; what do you want them to remember about their hotel stay? What will make them want to return? Whatever the emotion, whatever the dream, there is a fragrance to invoke it.

Street Wear Stores that Boutique Hotels Should Work with

BLLA predicts that collaborations are the next greatest trend in hospitality. It’s all about working together to help each other. For instance, street-wear is the most powerful fashion trend for 2017. Even Louis Vuitton partnered with Supreme to launch a collection together (two brands you wouldn’t think would even be in the same category) as they saw the opportunity of helping each other and overlapping different markets to see the vision of both brands. The Ace Hotel’s “gift shop” is none other than one of the first modern fashion disruptors, Opening Ceremony. It’s amazing because these boutique travelers are able to relate to the hotel’s official gift shop because this only adds to the guest experience. The hotel experience and the modern retail experience both have similar visions as they both emphasize innovation and originality. BLLA predicts that this is only the start, that the boutique travelers will see this grow as boutique hoteliers continue to realize the significance of partnerships.


274 Lafayette St
Founder James Jebbia

“Over it’s twenty-two year history, Supreme has worked with some of our generation’s most groundbreaking designers, artists, photographers and musicians- all who have helped continue to define its unique identity and attitude.” - Supreme


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15 Essex St

“Brand was founded in 2009 by two brothers from Europe living in NYC with a background of skateboarding culture. They had a vision to emphasize the depths of art, fashion, and lifestyle; aiming to make their own spot within the realm of creativity. Starting off small and independent, they turned a living room into a handmade screen-printing studio. Gradually growing, they then started a garment production in Europe and opened the first store in New York City, 2014”

Stadium Goods 

47 Howard St
3,000 square flagship store in Soho
Owners John McPheters, Jed Stiller & Yu-Ming Wu

“We are a premium sneaker + streetwear marketplace selling only the most sought after footwear, apparel and other hard-to-find items on behalf of our sellers. We are driven by our principles and committed to providing the best consumer and consignment experience there is.” – Stadium Goods

Opening Ceremony 

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35 Howard St, Soho
Ace Hotel 1190-1192 Broadway, NoMad
Founder Carol Lim & Humberto Leon

“Taking its name and mission statement from the modern Olympic Games, founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Opening Ceremony adopts a multinational approach to retail. In addition to stocking both iconic and emerging homegrown designers, every year OC showcases the spirit and merchandise of a visiting country, transforming each store into a marketplace for exotic souvenirs and international talent.”- Opening Ceremony

Sundays in LA

Where to grab brunch

Lunetta All Day
Santa Monica

Breakfast By Salt's Cure
West Hollywood



Rose Café
Images Courtesy of Pascal Shirley



Where to get buzzed at 11 am


Gracias Madre
West Hollywood

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The Rooftop at The Standard

West Hollywood

Rooftop at Mama Shelter


Where to grab a great deal on vintage & organic finds


Melrose Trading Post (also known as The Fairfax Flea Market)
**Ariela will let you know who Images courtesy of are based on what images we use**

Farmers Markets in Brentwood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Studio City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Encino, Westlake Village, Toluca Lake

Where to get a good tan

El Matador State Beach

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Shutters on The Beach

An Inside Look at HGU New York

One of the city’s most forward-thinking boutique hotels
Interviewed by Ariela Kiradjian 

A talk with Mike Namer, CEO & Founder of Alfa Development’s first hotel property, HGU New York

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AK: What is the vision behind the reinvented HGU New York?

MN: It’s not so much a reinvention as it is a remake of the original hotel, which was established in 1905. We were very conscious to ensure the history and culture behind the brand remained a prominent part of our existence. We refer to the new HGU New York as a landmark reborn.

The new and improved HGU New York has undergone a complete renovation, and the artistic community of the NoMad district inspires the design work that floods our hallways and hotel suites today.

AK: What does HGU New York stand for? How did you decide on this name?

MN: The HGU in our new name stands for Hotel Grand Union, which was the name of the original hotel. We were adamant we wanted to keep the connection to our origin, whilst at the same time creating a platform for an entirely new brand, which has a more modern feel and reflects our new 4* status.

Shortening Hotel Grand Union to HGU has allowed us to hold a historic brand link, whilst also creating a platform for brand recognition when we go on to pursue plans to expand our presence in other cities across the U.S., and potentially worldwide.

AK: How do you keep strong ties to the community?

MN: Showing support to our local community is a huge part of the HGU New York brand ethos. ML and myself are both artists so we do everything we can to support the many up and coming talented artists in New York City, and keep the community thriving.

All of the art pieces featured in the hotel have been purchased directly from local artists, because we want them to receive the return they deserve.

We also host numerous charity events in our 1905 lounge, inviting members of the local community and hotel guests to support amazing causes.

AK: On your website, you have an entire section dedicated to “Culture.” Why did you create such an emphasis on this?

MN: Our culture is what really defines us, and it’s why our guests choose to stay with us over bigger, chain hotels when they book a trip to New York.

As a boutique brand, our USP is that we provide our guests with so much more than just a place to stay when they’re in town. We want our guests to experience New York like a local, and the “Culture” section on the website is designed to act as a virtual tour guide for everyone who stays with us.

AK: When renovating the hotel and brand, why did you decide to stay independent, and not join a large chain? 

MN: The biggest reason behind this decision is that we didn’t want to be absorbed by a large chain that would suppress our individuality and dissolve what makes us unique.

Boutique hotels also hold a better track record in New York City, in terms of ADR, and traffic. 

A collaboration spotlight interview with ML Perlman, Vice President of Development & Marketing

AK: Who have you collaborated with since opening last year?

ML: Since opening in July 2015, we’ve ingrained influencer marketing into our overall strategy. Our key audience is largely generation Y and Z, so we know that the impact of social media is invaluable. 

HGU New York is a boutique hotel with an artistic flare, and that’s really reflected in our clientele. We tend to attract new up and comers on the art scene, and we embrace that within our marketing approach. 

One of our most successful, and longest standing collaborations is with Gallery 151. Our founder, Mike Namer, established the gallery 10 years ago and our ongoing collaboration with the brand has allowed us to not only raise awareness of HGU New York amongst the community, but also help support the artists who contribute to the gallery. Everyone who visits us is greeted with art from Gallery 151. The artwork hanging in our lobby and all of the guest rooms really defines the unique experience, and the entire ethos of the hotel. It’s what sets us apart from other hotels in the city. 

We’ve also had some amazing talent come through our doors since opening in summer 2015; everyone from former Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo to world-renowned model, Emily Ratajkowski. During New York Fashion Week last year, we collaborated with numerous influencers, including Shea Marie and Caroline Vreeland, who all documented their stay at the hotel via. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. 

AK: How did you reach out to them, or did they reach out to you?

ML: It’s a real mixture. When we first opened, we wanted to get word out that we were the hottest place in town to come and stay, so we reached out to a selection of top influencers and talent agencies we knew could really speak to our demographic. However, as the rave reviews have flooded in, we’ve now seen requests coming in organically from guests who have heard about us, or seen influencers and celebrities staying at the hotel. 

AK: Why, in your opinion, do collaborations help boutique hotels?

ML: It’s all about getting inside the mind of the consumer and reaching the right people. 

From experience, we’ve found that utilizing influencers and being able to naturally market ourselves through exposure to their following has proved hugely successful. 

We accommodated a number of A-Listers during NYFW 2015 and 2016, and the results were invaluable for brand exposure. 

In addition to influencer collaborations, we’ve also worked with a number of innovative brands to enhance our overall guest experience. In 2016, we installed FLI Charge hubs in to all of our hotel rooms to ensure guests never go a minute without being able to document their stay. 

New York is a city for exploring and documenting your travels, so we know how important it is to always have all of your devices fully charged.

Another successful brand collaboration we pursued was with REVIV, the leading global wellness provider of signature IV nutrient therapies and booster shots. During NYFW, when the majority of our guests were embracing the culture of New York’s nightlife, we offered special treatments to help cure hangover symptoms, and set everyone up for another full day of runway shows. The reaction was amazing, and it definitely helped to put us on the map with consumers within the fashion industry. 

AK: Do you agree that collaborations are the next greatest trend in the hospitality industry?

ML: Absolutely! 

At HGU New York, we’ve learned from experience that successful brand collaborations can be invaluable for establishing brand recognition, extending brand reach, establishing new markets, and helping to improve brand image. The caliber of influencers we have collaborated with has also directly impacted our brand reputation and helped to position HGU New York as a luxury, boutique hotel.  

The most exciting thing about collaborations is that different industries and audiences can come together to benefit from one another’s strengths. 

AK: The hotel’s marketing is right on point with what’s trending today as seen on your Instagram page and website. How do you stay relevant in the always changing landscape of the hotel industry? 

ML: Social media, especially Instagram because it’s so visual, plays a huge part in our marketing success. Staying relevant is key because we always want to keep on top of industry trends, but at the same time, we don’t just like to follow the crowd. 

We like to think of our social media accounts as a mirror of our guest experience. All of the content has been developed through the eyes of previous guests, and what we know they have loved about their experience with us. 

Through our Instagram page, we provide a real taste of what it’s like to stay at the hotel. Our founder, Mike Namer and myself are both artists, and it’s our mission to ensure everyone who visits the hotel immediately feels like part of the family. We share a mixture of images of our rooms, all of the amazing art pieces hanging in the lobby, sharing posts from guests enjoying their time with us, suggestions of events and happenings in the city, and everything we believe our audience will value. 

The overall goal of our online presence is to provide an element of discovery, whether that is through discovering a new artist, or a new place in the city to hang out.