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About Kiwi Collection USA, February 2007

Chic Boutique Hotels
Elisabeth Eaves, 02.15.07

Back in the '90s, guests knew what to expect when checking into a "boutique" hotel: cutting-edge design, gorgeous staff, fewer rooms than the big chains, and the city's hottest bars and restaurants no farther than the lobby.

Today, with the travel industry slapping the "boutique" label on mid-market franchises and 200-room boxes, it seems to have become little more than a marketing gimmick. Companies such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts (nyse: HOT - news - people ) and Canada's Germain Group are taking style to the masses with the launch of their new cheap-chic chains, Aloft Hotels and Alt Hotels, respectively, but that doesn't do much good for the boutique hotel's exclusive image.

"The term

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