Hotel industry leaders locked horns last week to debate the merits of branded chain hotels against individual and boutique properties.
Speaking at the Master Innholders General Managers' Conference at the Dorchester hotel in London, Campbell Gray argued that today's hotel customer wants originality and is "fed up of being pigeonholed".
"Small is beautiful and size is rarely great," he said. "As much as we have masses of branded experiences, there's another type of traveller that likes individuality, a more intelligent guest who sometimes wants less but better thought out - a rain shower not a power shower, for instance."
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin were originally formed to create a point of difference from the "tired blancmange mould of big corporate giants", according to Cook. This, he explained, had been "squeezed out of the Malmaison brand when it was corporately owned", but had now returned to being a core value.
"The industry has hidden behind a veneer of design for too long," Cook added. "Hospitality and good service are the key and need to be brought back to the forefront."
But Giesbert hit back, defending the multinational corporation. While there's room for individual hotels, the hotel sector has come of age and brands are here to stay, he said. "People need to know they will be able to do their work and get a good night's sleep, and will pay a 20% premium for that."
By Emily Manson
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