'Boutique' is unique

Warsaw's new 'Rialto' Hotel, to open in the first quarter of next year on ul Wilcza 73, is a privately owned and operated concern, with no connection with the numerous others called the same dotted around Europe. ,We just liked the name," says General Manager John Quero, on the decision to give the city's first 'boutique' hotel such a familiar ring.

In general, boutique hotels are, ,classical, individual and independent, small but not necessarily exclusive", says Roddie MacDonald, Hospitality Manager of the Edinburgh-based hotel and tourist consultants, RGA Ltd.
"They offer something new," says John Quero, ,a 'lifestyle' environment and more personalized service. You don't have the five restaurants, huge swimming pools or nightclubs of the bigger luxury hotels. The emphasis is purely on design and ambiance."

The new hotel in Warsaw will be Art Deco in theme and design and each room, (of which there'll be forty-five), will be individualized with original furniture from the early-twentieth century. There will be a restaurant and bar, two rooms for business meetings and private dining for up to twenty-five people, a fitness centre with sauna, a cigar room, (furnished in the style of a London gentlemen's club), and a restaurant which will be run by the Kurt Scheller culinary academy. Above all for John Quero, it will offer an intimate setting for guests where they can count on very attentive staff.
,I won't have corporate head office telling me, ,you have to do this, you have to do that". I can be flexible. I'll have a blank sheet of paper and together with my experience, we will come up with some really good ideas."

Difficulties with the market
It's fairly common knowledge however, that Warsaw's hotel market is over-supplied and the presence of any new hotel might well cause eyebrows to be raised. In a city replete with half-full hotels, how can the Rialto expect to fill its rooms?
The Luxembourg-based Orco Property Group had planned to deliver a boutique hotel to Warsaw, (as reported in Eurobuild back in February), but ultimately relented, deciding that the ,market wasn't ready," according to their spokesman Frank Cisar. Their new, 63-room Anderassy Hotel on ul. Kosciolna in the Old Town, will instead be termed a 'small luxury hotel'. So what's the difference between 'small-luxury' and 'boutique' hotels?
,It's very slight," says Mr. Cisar, ,both are small and offer the guest intimacy but boutique hotels are in more of a niche, with a much stronger emphasis on fashionable design." The Orco group feel that the 'small-luxury' concept is a closer alternative to what is already available in Warsaw and it will operate on a lower budget than a boutique hotel.

An alternative
John Quero however, believes that, "though it will be difficult for us in the first year, because we don't have the marketing infrastructure of the Radisson or Hyatt, in the long-term the hotel is a good investment. At the end of the day, I only have forty-five rooms to fill not four or five hundred.
The atmosphere we'll have at the hotel will be very much a personal thing and we believe that guests will come back to the hotel thinking that they're coming home to stay with friends and with whom they're on first name terms."
Frank Cisar concedes that the Rialto's location on the edge of the CBD is "very interesting" as it is of course very near Warsaw's major hotels, meaning that with its authentic design and personal touch, it could well present an attractive alternative.