Chile crowns its first official boutique hotel

An intimate ceremony in one of Santiago’s classiest hotels marks an important moment for Chile’s tourism industry.

Hotel Bonaparte is the first official boutique hotel in Chile. Photo by This Is Chile.
Hotel Bonaparte is the first official boutique hotel in Chile. Photo by This Is Chile.

Santiago’s trendy bohemian barrios — Lastarria, Barrio Italia, Bellavista to mention a few — have long boasted a number of unique and intriguing boutique hotel options. Yet despite this appealing array of accommodation popping up across the city, the nation’s tourism authorities had yet to officially recognize the upsurge of boutique hotels — until now.

Last week, Hotel Bonaparte received formal accreditation from Sernatur — the National Tourist Board of Chile — sealing its place as the nation’s first boutique hotel.

Lilian Cabello, Hotel Manager of Hotel Bonaparte, received the award on behalf of the entire team and gave a short speech to the intimate crowd of 30 or so invited guests to mark the occasion.

“We are very happy that we have been chosen to receive this award and that Sernatur has distinguished us with such a title,” Cabello began.

So far, three hotels in Chile have successfully gone through the lengthy accreditation process to earn the status of boutique hotel. However, Hotel Bonaparte — located in the Providencia neighborhood of Santiago — was the first to officially receive all the necessary documentation during last week’s ceremony, alongside Chile’s Subsecretary of Tourism, Javiera Montes.

As Montes explained to This is Chile, 22 hotels are currently applying to be recognized with official boutique hotel status.

“Sernatur is doing everything it can to support the remaining hotels with their applications and to guide them through the final stages. This includes the audit period — a process which, in the case of Hotel Bonaparte, took five days to complete,” Montes explained.

The boutique hotel certification remains valid for three years, and the cost of renewal is significantly lower than when applying the first time round — good news for hotel managers like Cabello.

“We want every visitor we receive in our hotel to feel like they’re in their own home. We offer them accommodation with a personal touch, we place attention to detail and we focus on the quality of the service we provide — all within a warm and welcoming environment,” Cabello told This Is Chile.

The boutique hotel is a concept which aims to offer a personalized service. It distinguishes itself not because it is necessarily more expensive, but because it aims to offer guests something special.

The official boutique hotel accreditation process, endorsed by Sernatur, will make the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of boutique hotels in Chile far more effective. For this reason, Cabello believes that Hotel Bonaparte has achieved something important in being the first hotel in Chile to receive the official boutique stamp.

“We are the first accommodation of any kind in Chile to receive the official quality tourist stamp as boutique hotel. I don’t have the words to thank all those who have helped us to realize this goal,” Cabello explained to This Is Chile.

This change marks a new, more regulated approach to tourist accommodation. All hotels marketing themselves as “boutique” must now conform to the Sernatur standards. As a result, the every growing numbers of tourists visiting the country can be assured that the standards in boutique hotels across the country will be consistent and meet their expectations.

The first half of this year has already seen Chile’s tourism sector booming as the Andean nation registered a record number of tourists visiting its cultural highlights and incredibly diverse array of stunning natural habitats in the early months of 2014. Around 9.2 million Chileans traveled throughout the country last summer, while 850,000 foreign tourists chose to spend their vacations in Chile — a significant 1.2 percent bump on last year’s figures.