Travel can fill you with wonder or it can break your heart. Yesterday we learned that Kimpton, one of our favorite boutique hotel brands, has sold out.
It now melts into the publicly traded monster hotel company InterContinental Hotel Group, which already owns the likes of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
Kimpton has always been a firm favorite among Frommer's recommendations and with guests for its defiantly iconoclast tendencies. Its properties often seem to echo their destinations and bring out the best in them, from the maritime-themed Argonaut Hotel at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to its upscale-cheeky Hotel Monaco brand-within-a-brand.
Kimpton is stylish without being snooty. Some of their properties even have mascot lobby dogs so guests know it's fine to bring their own pets. And Wi-Fi has been free for its loyalty club members, regardless of whether guests only joined (for free) that very day. It also treats its employees well, which is a trait we look for in a business: For five years, it has made Fortune's list of best companies to work for. Kimpton simply does company-hotel hospitality the way it ought to be done, and we wished more hotel companies were as thoughtful about its workers and its guests.
So you can imagine how it deflated us to read paragraphs like this from the news release (emphasis ours):
"Rest assured, this news doesn't have any immediate impact to your benefits or how you experience Kimpton. We'll continue to offer the same great perks and benefits through our Kimpton Karma Rewards program across our 62 Kimpton hotels and any reward nights you've racked up stay perfectly intact. For the time being, the Kimpton Karma Rewards program and IHG Rewards Club will continue to run as separate loyalty programs."
We can all read through the lines. In due time, a unique hotel brand will get blanded and milked by the corporate treatment. We hope we're wrong; representatives from Kimpton have been saying in tweets they will now be able to "scale a good thing."
But history is a powerful guide. We're pretty sure we're not.