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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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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