Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Heck of a Shopping Haul.....At a Hotel?

Trina Turk Cover-Up I bought at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey

You can score fabulous finds at hotels.  Really.  The Wall Street Journal explores the rise of niche luxury hotel boutiques in Thursday's edition.

"The traditional hotel gift shop is getting an overhaul. Upscale properties hope to turn them into places where guests, and even locals, will want to linger and spend money—day after day."

The thing is, you don't have to spend a ton of cash.  Sure, there are some hotel boutiques that stock items that cost a fortune but many will discount their goods in effort to move them.

Some of my hotel scores include:

A great Trina Turk bathing suit cover-up from the Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey at half off the retail price for the same item I spotted at two different Trina Turk boutiques.

A pair of rose quartz earrings at a trunk show at the Ritz Carlton, Dallas.  They cost $80 but have been a wardrobe staple for more than three years.

A fabulous, chunky white bone ring from the Sofitel in Philadelphia.  I have had this ring for more than a decade.  It cost something like $60 and is a perfect piece of travel jewelry.

Gardenia candles from the Ritz Carlton, New Orleans.  I stock up on these when I am in the Crescent City.  They scent the hotel and have almost become a signature scent in my home.  They also remind me of all the fun my family has in New Orleans. The NOLA Ritz also has a good selection of locally-designed Mignon Faget jewelry, Robert Graham shirts for men, as well a variety of Nanette Lepore clothing which is frequently discounted.
I've noticed that you can often find great pieces of clothing discounted.  I have no proof of this but the clothing doesn't seem to sell as quickly as other items because, in my opinion, one wouldn't think of buying clothes at a hotel.  Therefore you can score some really cool pieces at better prices.  Again, nothing to prove this theory.  It's simply been my experience.

Not all hotel boutiques are so wallet friendly. The uber-luxe One and Only Palmilla has a breathtaking boutique scented of sweet agave and filled with Stella McCartney beach cover-ups, Emilio Pucci bikinis, Matthew Williamson frocks and gorgeous Christian Louboutin shoes.  It can compete with the finest high-end boutiques in the world and its prices are right up there with them, too.  I've been there every time of the year and never found a thing on sale.

The same can be said for boutiques at the Hotel Bel-Air, the Four Seasons Seasons Santa Barbara and San Ysidro Ranch.  All amazing hotels with outstanding retail options but with outstandingly high prices to match.

This is not to suggest hotel boutiques warrant a special trip to scoop up some designer goods, something hotels would love.  Rather, they are a pleasant surprise and sometimes offer quite a deal when you hit the shop at the right time.