Luxury: Chain Vs. Independent

Discussion in 'Luxury Hotels' started by WonderBret, Feb 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. WonderBret
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    WonderBret Silver Member

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    A response to another thread (As a devotee of Good Hotels) got me thinking. At what point do you look for an independent luxury hotel over a chain (or vise versa)? IMHO, chains may offer a little more consistency, but its sometimes the unimaginative sort, which can sometimes make or break an entire experience. Your thoughts/opinions/experiences?
     
  2. Jasper2009
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    That´s a good question. I usually look for a chain hotel (usually IC, Fairmont) as I know pretty much what I can expect and have generally had very good stay experiences with at various hotels, status amenities also play an important role, as well as the expectation that any problems will likely be resolved to my satisfaction as a "loyal customer".

    I usually only look at independent hotels if they´re affiliated with Virtuoso/Amex (IMO a good indication of a good property) and/or if there´s no chain hotel at the destination.
     
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    I look to get away from chain hotels at every opportunity I get. Yes, some of them are a bust, but they are all way more interesting experiences.
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Like Wandering Aramean, I have found a number of very interesting non-chain hotels over the years where I didn't earn status or points but loved the independent aspect. But in general there are a variety of factors -- cost, location, need-to-maintain-status among them.
     
  5. Chris H
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    Chris H Silver Member

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    While I like both the luxury chains (esp. Fairmont and FS) and the independent hotels, I love the luxury chain hotels that go above and beyond to embrace the local flavor while maintaining their luxury brand integrity.
     
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  6. stimpy
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    stimpy Silver Member

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    If I were independently wealthy I would stay with the independent hotels. But loyalty counts for something and I am very well rewarded for continued business with chains like Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental, Starwoood, etc. Also Amex Centurion FHR has great deals and benefits with the top luxury chains.
     
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  7. RichardInSF
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    MO actually rewards you for repeated stays? I've never seen any sign of it, at least in Munich and Geneva.
     
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  8. WonderBret
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    WonderBret Silver Member

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    I agree with InterCon. I love my RA status but have started to find a lot of their properties as being..well...bland. LA, B(s)A(s), etc. I may have just missed it but I haven't had a "wow" experience in many stays. Can't say I have tried MO though.
     
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  9. BondAir007
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    This is tough. I have had both good and bad stays at luxury chain and independent hotels.

    Depending on the independent hotel, I do wish they had the function of a luxury chain. But not the look of a luxury chain. Sort of the book or information of 'The Leading Hotels of the World'. I think thats what it is called. But you would able to earn hotel points and transfer the points to a major hotel reward program of your choice.
     
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  10. stimpy
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    stimpy Silver Member

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    Of course their "loyalty program" isn't obvious or defined in a way the guest is aware of, but they do seem to keep track. I am always welcomed back as a returning guest at the Asian properties. I usually get a birthday card from the MO KL. I've only stayed once at each of the Euro properties, but MO's at HKG, BKK, SIN, KUL have seen me many times and sometimes give me certain considerations. For instance the Club manager at the MO SIN always lets me check out at 10pm since the flights to Europe leave at midnight.
     
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  11. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Stay at an independent hotel, not receive points? Oh no![​IMG]
     
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  12. stimpy
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    stimpy Silver Member

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    Have you been to the IC's in Amsterdam, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Chicago or Mumbai Marine? These hotels are not really bland. MO is a good level or two above IC though.
     
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  13. WonderBret
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    Yes, no, yes, no, yes (both), no. [​IMG] I miss the Amstel's old minibar policy.
    I agree that some of these are quite nice, but I have found many others not as special. Lately I have been looking towards nice indy properties, but I just can't pull the trigger (and lose the points/status credits) unless there is no other option. MO/FS are usually above my pay grade, but I like to explore all of my options.
     
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  14. TRAVELSIG
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    Not necessarily- with LHW you are staying in independent hotels, receive frequent flyer points, and 1 free night/5 stays- so not too bad.

    Four Seasons and Aman on the other hand- no points, but it is still a good deal in my book!
     
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  15. TRAVELSIG
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    One point I hope changes in the future- Four Seasons- please stop with the only restaurant option in new build hotels being Italian.
     
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  16. tomv
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    tomv Silver Member

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    I will venture from the chain brands for something really special, but if it's close in quality, I'll stay at my usual brands for the points and upgrades. I must say that some of the most "special" places I've stayed have been in the independents.
     
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  17. NYBanker
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    LHW is an interesting one. They certainly meet the points requirements.

    I've found there to be a bit more variability in the quality levels at different LHW properties. This mainly occurs in the US, where a branded property is nearly always an option. Internationally, though on less data, I've been consistently pleased with LHW.
     
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  18. TRAVELSIG
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    I agree about the variability- and not only in the USA- however, there are some very nice properties- and apparently LHW is pruning their portfolio for low/non-performers to be phased out.
     
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  19. GUWonder
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    I find the bigger chain luxury properties are more responsive to service failures than LHW properties (speaking of those LHW affiliated properties that are not part of the bigger chains), but the LHW properties have been less likely to disappoint than the bigger chain luxury properties.

    There are plenty of great independent hotels whether marketed by the likes of LHW or not, but I do find myself finding LHW (at least outside of the US) less likely to fail than the bigger chain properties with a supposedly comparable value proposition. Then again, I find LHW more predictable than Relais & Chateaux.
     
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  20. SocialAdept
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    It can be such a simply thing as accessibility that makes you want to go with a chain rather than an independent hotel. This is especially useful when it comes to booking from websites (for those of use that don't have the finances to use Virtuosu on a regular basis) There's this one independent luxury hotel in Las Vegas (I know, I know) that I once wanted to stay at but their attachment to form over function on their site had me so aggravated that I went with something completely different.
     
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  21. TRAVELSIG
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    Yes- completely agree- Relais & Chateaux is all over the map in my experiences.
     
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  22. travelingmore
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    Agreed - hard to see that happening for our stays - chains it is! Got to get those points, stay credits and bonuses.
     
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  23. TRAVELSIG
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    Yes- important- however would you really turn down an Aman because of no points?
     
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  24. travelingmore
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    Well, truth is, we are really into our points/miles pursuits. So, turn down for free? No - but is there a good chain option, if I'm paying? Then that's where we'll likely be. When we can get a luxury hotel experience for a good rate (cash and points for ex.), we have done that too, so we do like that experience as well.
     
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  25. TRAVELSIG
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    Agreed where the chain options/points earning options are as good as the non, but for example in many cities- what compares to Four Seasons? I am glad actually Four Seasons has never launched a points program- for if they did I fear my spending would increase significantly!
     
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