Why Boutique Hotels Will Be Top of Mind for Event Pros in 2021

With smaller gatherings still the norm, these 18 boutique hotel properties are primed for socially distant meetings.

Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt.

Want to host your next meeting in a Victorian-era mansion in New Orleans? Or how about a corporate retreat in an art-filled farmhouse in Vermont, or a wedding in a citrus grove outside San Diego? If you answered “um, yes, please” to any of the above, you might be looking for a boutique hotel.

These smaller, personality-filled properties—which typically have 100 or fewer guest rooms—may historically have been overlooked in the event world in favor of amenity-rich chains with large ballrooms and flexible breakout rooms. But with reduced guest counts during the pandemic, boutique hotels are increasingly becoming a go-to option for small, safe and socially distant gatherings of all types.

Here are three reasons to consider a boutique property for your next event.

1. Safety during COVID-19
“Gathering in smaller, more controlled and more intimate sizes may provide the opportunity to control safety measures more than larger events,” explains Bobby Mikulas, one of the co-founders of Kinship Landing, a new 40-room hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. With limited indoor space, for example, many boutique properties focus on offering standout outdoor space, widely considered a safer option during the pandemic. What’s more, smaller hotels are more likely to allow full buyouts; for example, the Washington School House—a rustic, 12-room getaway in Park City, Utah—is offering full property buyouts starting at $7,000 per night during off-peak months.

Some smaller properties also feature standalone cottages complete with their own entrances, ensuring both a private—and safe—experience for every attendee. Southern California’s Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, for example, offers 49 standalone “casitas,” each with a private entrance and its own HVAC system. The resort's director of sales Mark Phillips adds, “With social distancing in the forefront of safety, our function space delivers a fresh, open-air feel with open doors and patios bringing natural lighting and fresh air elements into the space."

2. Eclectic, inspiring meeting spaces and settings
Now more than ever, people need the motivation to leave their homes and attend your event—and boutique hotels may be the key. Many are set in unique, off-the-beaten-path locales, or are open to hosting small gatherings in unconventional spaces like greenhouses, restored barns or even (in the case of the 89-room Robey Hotel in Chicago) inside a historic bell tower.

“Opportunity to connect in inspiring environments provides subtle nudges toward openness, creativity and innovation,” points out Mikulas. “This is great for groups intending to discover fresh solutions and unique ideas, and foster authentic connections. When the corporate facade is taken away, people feel the freedom to be fully present, attentive and engaged.”

The locations can also lend themselves to some memorable and unique team-building options, like hiking paths through the grounds or personalized culinary experiences from on-site farms. “The in-between moments become infused with dignity and passion when the built environment is attentive and curated for smaller groups, and boutiques at their best are designed with these types of groups in mind,” says Mikulas.

3. A more personalized experience 
With fewer guests and groups to manage at once, smaller properties like Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa can often offer a more tailored experience than a large resort, notes Phillips. “This exclusivity on property gives the attendees the feel of privacy and personalization, versus being part of the masses with a larger property," he says. "[For example,] we have the flexibility to customize menus or personalize each attendee's ‘workspace’ during the entire program. ... All setups can be customized based upon the program’s needs, keeping the attention on the safety and welfare of all guests.”

Keep scrolling for a look at 18 standout boutique hotels across the United States and Canada to consider for your next small gathering. 

(Note: Unless otherwise indicated, listed capacities may not reflect current distancing regulations. Contact the venues directly for the most up-to-date information.) 

Colton House Hotel in Austin
The 80-suite Colton House Hotel opened in January on Austin’s South Congress Avenue. The suites range from 460 to 1,170 square feet and are equipped with modern kitchens, living rooms, and in-room washers and dryers. Event space includes The Backyard, a 5,000-square-foot outdoor space, plus a 1,200-square-foot penthouse. (Photo: Ayuma Photography)

Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, N.Y.
Slated to open in April is Hutton Brickyards, a Salt Hotels property set on 73 acres in Kingston, N.Y., about 90 miles north of New York City. The venue will feature 31 standalone cabins and suites, all designed to immerse guests in the surrounding landscape and evoke the Shaker aesthetic. Other on-site highlights will include a variety of event space, an outdoor kitchen, a spa, an archery range, a croquet lawn, fire pits and opportunities for bike-riding, hiking, guided kayak experiences and more. Quarry Waters, a new 520-acre state park, is also slated to open this year next to the brickyards. (Photo: Courtesy of Salt Hotels)

White Elephant Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla.
White Elephant Palm Beach, a luxury boutique hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., opened in November. The modern, Mediterranean-style property features 13 deluxe rooms and 19 suites, a chic pool deck, a signature restaurant named Lola 41 and various outdoor spaces. Palm & Park, the hotel’s rooftop suites, feature panoramic views and full kitchens, while the two-bedroom Palm Suite can host smaller gatherings of up to 15 guests. The Park Suite can entertain as many as 40 guests cocktail style and includes three en-suite bedrooms, an open floor plan and a terrace. (Photo: Chi-Thien Nguyen/Elkus Manfredi Architects)

Drake Motor Inn in Wellington, Ontario
In May, Toronto’s Drake Hotel empire added Drake Motor Inn, a retro-inspired motel in Prince Edward County. The 12-room property was designed by Carlo Colacci and Joyce Lo, co-founders of the Drake General Store, with an extensive art collection inspired by mid-century road trips, Super 8 films and the warm tones of Kodak film. The property is a two-minute walk to the Drake Devonshire, which offers private event space such as the main dining room that seats 65 or holds 80 for receptions. (Photo: Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott)

The Rockaway Hotel in Queens, N.Y.
Open since September is The Rockaway Hotel in Queens, N.Y. The luxury, beachside property has 53 guest rooms, including eight extended-stay suites. There's 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including the 5,000-square-foot Harbor Room with floor-to-ceiling windows and the 3,140-square-foot Sun Deck, which seats 350 or holds 500 for receptions. Additional spaces include a prefunction room that holds 90, a rooftop area that holds 300 and a terrace with space for 100. (Photo: Courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel)

Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt.
Now available for full property buyouts is Twin Farms, a 300-plus acre estate overlooking the Green Mountains in Barnard, Vt. The adults-only hotel has 20 guest rooms, an expansive art collection, and a variety of newly enhanced hiking and biking trails. For smaller retreats and getaways, groups can opt to stay in a farmhouse with four suites, an enclosed porch and a stone jacuzzi tub. Other property highlights include a spa and fitness center, plus a variety of outdoor spaces for weddings, corporate retreats and other events. (Photo: Courtesy of Twin Farms)

MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa in Sonoma, Calif.
Newly renovated is the MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, a wine country getaway featuring 64 rooms—including a variety of farmhouse-style cottages—on a lush, six-acre property. The hotel, which is available for full buyouts, offers a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for events, including the newly designed Coach House, which has three salons that can be combined for 2,305 square feet of event space, as well as a restored 150-year-old barn and an on-site Mediterranean-style restaurant. (Photo: Courtesy of MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa)

The Chloe in New Orleans
The Chloe—a new hotel, restaurant and bar from restaurateur Robert LeBlanc of LeBlanc+Smith—opened in New Orleans's Uptown neighborhood in October. Housed in a Victorian-era mansion, the 14-room property is filled with historic, moody details like wrought iron gates, rich hues and original interior details. Each guest room features vintage touches, record players and artwork for local artists; also on site is a pool, a sunken garden and food options from executive chef Todd Pulsinelli. (Photo: Paul Costello)

Eastwind Hotel & Bar in Windham, N.Y.
The Eastwind Hotel & Bar, located in New York's Catskill Mountains, in September debuted seven new "glamping" accommodations, increasing its overall room count from 19 to 26. Called Lushnas, the unique standalone suites are insulated for year-round stays and sleep between two and four guests, with the larger options offering private outdoor decks, individual fire pits and hammocks. The boutique hotel’s design reflects the property’s history as a bunkhouse for hunters, fly fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. (Photo: Courtesy of Eastwind Hotel & Bar)

Hotel Zed in Tofino, British Columbia
Opened in August, Hotel Zed Tofino is the brand’s third location in British Columbia. Located on Vancouver Island right by the water, the 1970s-inspired hotel has 58 rooms, plus a living room, office, mini disco, arcade and a bike path that runs right through the lobby. Since it's located on the traditional land of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, the business is a part of the Tribal Parks Allies, which supports the protection and restoration of the First Nation’s land and culture. (Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Zed Tofino)

Kinship Landing in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kinship Landing, a boutique hotel located in Colorado Springs' Downtown Corridor, opened in late December. The unique spot has 40 rooms, including 34 suites, six bunk rooms and a unique outdoor camping room overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Also on site is Greenhaus, a 1,000-square-foot greenery-filled event space; there's also a variety of community seating and gathering spaces, a massive outdoor patio, and a cafe and bar. Experienced concierges are available 24/7 to assist with recommendations for local restaurants, outdoor excursions and more. (Photo: Courtesy of Kinship Landing)

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Located near San Diego is Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, a Spanish Colonial Hacienda-inspired property featuring 49 private casitas, each with spacious patios and fireplaces. The rooms sit on 45 acres of lush gardens and citrus groves; on-site highlights include two signature restaurants, a spa and 18 tennis courts, plus a variety of different lawns, courtyards, gardens and ballrooms that can host events. (Photo: Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa)

The Robey Hotel in Chicago
The Robey, an 89-room hotel housed in an Art Deco building in Chicago, has begun hosting micro-celebrations in unconventional spaces such as The Grotto, a secluded alcove within the venue's historic bell tower; the small space can hold 20 for a reception. Other available spaces for small events include the mid-century modern Up Room, the versatile Robey Hall and the rooftop pool and bar. (Photo: Courtesy of The Robey)

Washington School House Hotel in Park City, Utah
The 12-room Washington School House Hotel in Park City, Utah, is now offering full buyouts for as many as 34 guests. Included is a 24-hour concierge, airport transfers in the property’s private fleet, a personal executive chef and more. The historic property, named after George Washington and first built as a school in 1889, has a heated, year-round pool and a ski lodge; it specializes in weddings, corporate retreats and other special events. (Photo: Courtesy of Washington School House Hotel)

The Cloudveil in Jackson, Wyo.
Set to open this spring is The Cloudveil, an Autograph Collection property that will be the first hotel on Jackson, Wyo.’s historic Town Square. The highly anticipated, 100-room hotel will draw inspiration from the town’s Western style and feature a European bistro-style restaurant and bar, an expansive rooftop terrace overlooking Jackson’s Town Square and Snow King Mountain, an outdoor pool and garden, a fitness center, and 7,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor meeting and event space. (Rendering: Courtesy of The Cloudveil)

The Roundtree in Amagansett, N.Y.
New to the Hamptons is The Roundtree, a boutique luxury hotel that opened in Amagansett, N.Y., in June. The 15-room property, set along the village’s main street, offers guest rooms and suites housed in a centuries-old barn, plus five standalone one-, two- or three-bedroom cottages with private entries. The venue can host as many as 250 people for outdoor events on its two acres of landscaped grounds. (Photo: Courtesy of The Roundtree)

Hôtel Uville in Montreal
Opened in November, Hôtel Uville in Old Montreal identifies as a hotel-museum that brings visitors back to the city in the ’60s and ’70s. The four-story building has 33 guest rooms and a small lounge that serves Quebecois cuisine, as well as cocktails and wine. Each room is decorated with archival photographs, period artifacts and a film selection linked to the room’s theme. Although the retro-style hotel does not have its own function space, it's located next door to the Pointe-à-Callière museum that has 11 multifunctional event spaces. (Photo: Anatoli Igolkin)

Ambiente in Sedona, Ariz.
Opening this summer is Ambiente in Sedona, Ariz. Billed as “North America’s first landscape hotel,” the property will offer 40 private guest atriums, all built on stilts and with floor-to-ceiling bronze-tinted glass walls. Each structure will have 360-degree red rock views, plus private rooftop decks, fire pits and an outdoor daybed. There will also be a communal, lagoon-inspired pool and a two-story lounge offering rooftop yoga, star-gazing and other programming. (Rendering: Courtesy of Ambiente)


This story originally appeared on Connect's sister site, BizBash.com, here.