The MEXICO Report
By Susie Albin-Najera
Mexico Boutique Hotels turns 12 this year. Formed in 1999 by Canadian entrepreneur and Mexico enthusiast John Youden and his wife Flo, Mexico Boutique Hotels (MBH) was created to associate small, handpicked, luxury hotels under one brand, those that embodied the creative spirit and warm hospitality of Mexico which met specific, high quality standards. MBH provides a security for those wishing to stay at traditional hotels and has become the go-to spot for outstanding accommodations in Mexico.
Mexico Boutique Hotels is the largest and only brand of boutique hotels in Mexico, representing nearly 40 hotels in 25 different locations throughout the country.
Taking the guessing game out of the picture, Mexico Boutique Hotels does the homework and research for the traveler, providing reservations and detailed information on each hotel. Hotels under the MBH brand go through a rigorous screening process.
Managing Partner at Mexico Boutique Hotels, Sylvie Laitre, takes The MEXICO Report through the process.
How do you choose a hotel to become part of MBH?
Very carefully. It normally starts with a recommendation or the hotel contacts us directly. We then ask them to fill out an extensive questionnaire that allows both the hotel and MBH to see if they could be a possible fit. We proceed to look at their site, their photography, their image. I also do a web check for guest satisfaction levels, comments on blogs and forums. Finally, we visit the hotel and must have a sit down meeting with the owner. This is very important because part of being a great hotel is being owned and managed by the right people. Attitude and intention are important factors as well. Once the visit has been conducted, if the hotel is truly special, we invite them to join MBH.
This is always a difficult question as there are tangibles and so many more, intangibles. The easy part: it must have less than 50 rooms. It must have quality bedding, comfortable accommodations and have the best location possible as per the type of hotel it is (in a colonial city we’d want something central vs. a beach where we look for seclusion). There must be attention to detail in absolutely everything. From the cup you drink coffee or tea from in the mornings, to the artwork on the walls to staff uniforms. Most of all, it just has to have a clear personality. A true boutique hotel, in my opinion, is never a copycat. It’s a reflection of someone’s passion and how their interpret hospitality
What was the most recent hotel you added and why?
Casona de la Republica in Queretaro. It exemplifies what we look for. The owners are passionate about architecture and Mexican history and it shows in the hotel. The remodeling is stunning, rooms are spacious, gorgeous and very well-appointed, the location could not be better (almost across the street from the legendary Teatro de la Republica). The management and staff feel more like ambassadors of Queretaro than hotel employees. The have orange trees and a rooftop Jacuzzi in the middle of a city hotel—I LOVE That.
Do you choose the hotels or do they come to you?
Both. But the second scenario happens more often.
What are the benefits of booking one of your hotels through MBH?
1. One-stop shop for almost 40 hotels in 25 destinations so if you have dates and don’t know where to go, we’re a great starting point. 2. Service and guarantee that someone is looking out for you before, during and after your trip. Someone that knows their way around. (This is important. If you book with gigantic online travel agencies for example, good luck getting help if something goes wrong or you need extra help. Even with a hotel direct, sometimes they’re just too small to be able to keep up. We’re their extended family) 3. We’ll match any rate that’s out there. 4. We have a system where our guests rate our hotels consistently so they can trust we have great properties. 5. We have a loyalty Club with interesting perks.
Have you visited or stayed in all of the MBH hotels yourself?
There are only two hotels I have not stayed at but our Director General did, so there is no hotel we have not experienced personally.