Curator Gives A Fresh Twist To Independent Hotels

There’s a growing movement among small hotel companies to band together with like-minded independent hotels and offer deals directly to travelers. Among them is The Curator Hotel & Resort Collection, which includes Davidson Hospitality Group, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Sage Hospitality Group, Springboard Hospitality and Viceroy Hotels & Resorts. Officially launched in November 2020 with 31 independent hotels and resorts, they have since expanded to nearly 90 properties. I caught up with Jennifer Barnwell, President of Curator Hotel & Resort Collection, to get her views on what this new collection means for travelers.

Everett Potter: How does a traveler use the Curator Hotel & Resort Collection when they’re planning a getaway? Simply search and click?

Jennifer Barnwell: At Curator, we like to think of ourselves as a matchmaker of sorts for travelers seeking one-of-a-kind travel experiences. Through our discovery website, travelers can search for hotels in various ways, including by experience or by destination. Our website was created to inspire travelers by showcasing the unique details of each of our member hotels. This includes strong visuals of property features, as well as the art and design inspired by each locale. When a guest finds something they like, they can then get more information by clicking through to the individual hotel site.

Potter: Does a traveler book through you or the hotel?

Barnwell: Travelers can peruse our website for discovery, inspiration, and planning intel and then click through to book directly with each hotel for a personal experience.

Potter: Are there plans to have any kind of chat or phone interaction with a representative when it comes to narrowing down a hotel choice?

Barnwell: As Curator grows and evolves, we will continue to explore innovative ways to create value for our members. Since we’re a young brand, we are laser-focused on delivering on our primary business goal: to support independent hotels and small brands in increasing their asset values by leveraging our scale to negotiate preferred agreements on all the systems, services, and products that our members need to operate. In turn, members can focus on creating incredible guest experiences.

Potter: In a way, you’re kind of an online travel advisor. Is there an approximate starting price point travelers should be aware of when they go to the site?

Barnwell: Our collection includes hotels and small brands with a rating of 3.5 stars or more, meaning travelers have access to some of the best experiences and amenities. Our members range from resorts and urban hotels to boutiques, and their uniqueness and independent spirits unite them. Ultimately, pricing depends on seasonality, location, and the type of accommodations that guests book.

Potter: Tell me about the brands that Curator Hotel & Resort Collection works with. How were they chosen?

Barnwell: Curator has an inclusive selection process that’s different from other hotel collections, which typically have extensive checklists, inspections, and brand requirements. At Curator, we seek to build a community of indie champions that love hotels and small brands just as much as we do. Our business plan is built on leveraging scale to affect cost savings and create efficiencies for independent hotel owners and operators, so the opportunities grow as our membership grows.

Potter: In a nutshell, what are you looking for in terms of quality and amenities when you sign up a boutique hotel group?

Barnwell: We are looking for truly independent lifestyle hotels, resorts and small brands with at least 3.5 stars in online ratings.

Potter: Are you actively looking to add more boutique hotel brands to your collection?

Barnwell: Yes, we expect to reach 100 members in the next couple of months and hope to grow by 75-100 members each year. Our pipeline of prospective members includes more than 1,500 hotels, and we plan to reach every owner to prove the value of joining Curator.


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