By Zoe Pantazelos
BU News Service
Boston’s thriving tourist industry has led to an increase in large-scale luxury hotel development, despite the fact that the city was named as one of the 15 rudest cities in America in a 2016 survey by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Boston is known as a city in which its hotels set the standard. Tremont House, which opened in 1829, was considered to be the first modern hotel in the United States, featuring running water and indoor plumbing. In 1927, the Ritz-Carlton opened its flagship Boston Back Bay property, which set a bar for service at luxury hotels.
According to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB), 18 hotels have opened or are projected to open in 2019 and beyond in the greater Boston area.
The increase in hotel development comes from a thriving Boston tourist industry.
In 2018, Boston hosted 315 events at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and Hynes Convention Center with 800,000 attendees, generating 646,000 hotel room nights and $870 million in economic impact, according to the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.
Michael Quinlin of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism cites multiple reasons for Boston’s attraction of tourists year round. According to Quinlin, not only does the city’s history, culture, and educational institutions have a global reputation, the state has a strong innovation economy and convention industry that attracts business travelers.
In addition, Massport has expanded its direct route services at Boston Logan International Airport to and from both domestic and international destinations, according to Quinlin. In 2018, Boston had over 19 million domestic visitors and almost three million international visitors, according to GBCVB’s visitation forecasts.
All of these factors contribute to a rise in the city tourism that real estate developers in the luxury sector have noticed. Two luxury hotels, Four Seasons at One Dalton and The Whitney on Beacon Hill, opened this past summer. This is the second Four Seasons location in Boston. The first one on Boylston Street opened in 1985.
Robert Chinman, Director of Public Relations of Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston, says the project to build a second location broke ground in January 2015 and was under discussion well before that.
Chinman said the hotel’s clients since its opening in May have been extremely diverse.
“We are seeing a mix of corporate, group and leisure segment business in the hotel. We have welcomed guests from several destinations all over the world, as well as domestic travelers,” Chinman said. “With a real diversity of industries here in Boston, including finance, technology, pharmaceutical, medical and education, not to mention the draw of Boston for tourism, we see our hotel as ideally located in Back Bay for any visitor coming into Boston.”
In addition to The Whitney and the new Four Seasons, a 33-story, $400 million-plus Raffles Back Bay Hotel & Residences will open at 40 Trinity Place in 2022. The property will be part of French hospitality company Accor. It will be the first Raffles property in North America.
“We are proud to announce the introduction of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, one of our portfolio’s most iconic and beloved luxury brands, to Boston, an American city with a powerful history of cultural significance and landmark events,” said Kevin Frid, COO of AccorHotels North & Central America, in a press release.
According to Raffles, the project will include improvements to street and pedestrian areas at a cost of more than $22 million.
The Boston property will also include services such as the Raffles butler and a two-story sky lobby above Copley Square.