The newer generations of tourists and travelers that have enough money to travel without worrying about pinching pennies want a different experience quite often to their parents. Twenty or thirty years ago the world seemed much bigger; and foreign countries seemed far more foreign. Before globalization you couldn’t find the reassuring same things such as McDonalds and Starbucks where ever you went in the world. It is perhaps for this reason that people of that time preferred big chain hotels such Hyatt, Hilton and Intercontinental.
With big chain hotels people felt reassured. The rooms were in neutral tones; CNN on the TV; hot water in the bathroom; free toiletries; and the people at reception spoke English. The staff could bring you a club sandwich and you could get a drink from the mini bar. That’s what people wanted, especially after dealing with the noise, crowds and poverty of places like India.
The main problems with big chain hotels are apparent. Firstly, they have a large carbon footprint both in their construction and in their running. Lots of air-con going in the rooms as well as the corridors. While the big hotels might employ lots of local people the profits are channeled out of the country and into the hands of big corporate entities. And in their uniformity these big hotels do not reflect in any deep way the culture which surrounds them.
In contrast boutique hotels in such places as Bangkok do seem more in line with responsible and eco-tourist principles. For a start, since they are ’boutique’, it means that they are smaller. Thus, they have a smaller carbon foot print. Boutique hotels are often converted historical buildings. Thus, they are part of the culture where they are situated. This is a major point – some boutique accommodations help to preserve culture rather than threaten to drown it in a standardized globalization format.
Finally, ownership of these specialized hotels is often local. While the owners are probably not philanthropists it does mean that more of the profits stay in the area and will no doubt find their way back into the local economy.
Thus, there is a strong case to be made that responsible tourists should choose boutique styled hotels.