Points of sale | Monocle

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Sunny travels offer you the chance to explore new, more carefree versions of yourself – and your wardrobe. You might pick up a punchier fragrance, swap your classic watch for a bright-yellow waterproof Swatch chronograph or experiment with new patterns. But when you return home, these purchases often feel out of place. So you store them away, together with your memories of the trip.

If that scenario feels familiar, it’s probably because, until recently, most resort destinations had little to offer beyond souvenir shops stocked with everyday necessities for forgetful travellers and mass-produced beachwear. Having made enough bad shopping decisions, today’s holidaymakers are seeking more meaningful items that are unique to the place that they’re visiting but will also enrich their lives when they get back home. 

Montesol Experimental, in the heart of Ibiza’s Old Town
Select swimwear
Getting keyed up
View from the roof terrace

Hoteliers have spotted the opportunity and have started to put more effort into satisfying guests’ appetite for purchases on the road. Retail is no longer just an afterthought. Where once, even in the most luxurious establishments, hotel boutiques were usually confined to badly lit corners and run by third-party companies, many have now evolved into thoughtfully designed retail spaces employing in-house creative teams to curate one-of-a-kind fashion selections, home decor and locally produced beauty products. These boutiques have become an important part of the hospitality experience, helping to lure people in, just as the right restaurant atmosphere or a signature drink on a bar menu might.

Here, monocle speaks to the creative directors, buyers and entrepreneurs who have taken up residence in sunny locations around the world, upgrading hotel boutiques in places such as the Greek isle of Paros, Italy’s Porto Ercole and the Cayman Islands. —  L

bohemian exhibits
Montesol Experimental
Ibiza, Spain 

The Montesol Experimental hotel opened in the heart of Ibiza’s Old Town last year in a building that dates back to the early 20th century. “When we had the opportunity to get the oldest hotel in Ibiza, a Unesco World Heritage site, we were thrilled,” says Pierre-Charles Cros, co-founder of the Experimental Group, which also owns the island’s much-loved Experimental Beach club. The building was renovated by Parisian designer Dorothée Meilichzon, who used pastel colours to capture Ibiza’s sunny, bohemian spirit.

Ever-changing curation
Pit stop at Café Montesol
All that glitters
Bespoke selection of accessories and craft pieces

Special attention was paid to the boutique, which you’ll find by the hotel’s entrance. Cros saw a chance to use the space as a window into the Montesol experience, providing a taste of the best that Ibiza has to offer. The challenge was in creating the most interesting space possible within the compact area. “We wanted to showcase a selection of items that changes several times throughout the season and features a wide range of local talent,” says Cros, pointing to the rows of colourful kaftans lining the limewash walls, leather bags by Spanish brand Malababa, handwoven jackets by Gypsy Truck and gold jewellery crafted in nearby workshops. 

“If you make it too practical, it stops being about presenting a curation and doesn’t really inspire anybody,” says Cros. “Building a strong hotel brand extends to retail. It’s yet another dimension of the service that you offer guests to ensure that they remember you after they have gone home.”

heart of the country
Hôtel Crillon le Brave
Vaucluse, France

Since Hôtel Crillon le Brave was established in 1989, its owners have considered shopping to be an important part of the customer experience. “We have always had a retail corner,” says general manager Dagmar Lombard. However, it was only when fashion and property entrepreneur Patrick Pariente acquired the premises 30 years later that it introduced a dedicated boutique space filled with Made in France keepsakes. 

Hôtel Crillon le Brave’s boutique
Electric buggy for guests
Scarves from Inoui Editions
Maisons Pariente candles
Dagmar Lombard
Vaucluse’s countryside

Overlooking the countryside of Vaucluse, 35km northeast of Avignon, the boutique offers guests glimpses of the village’s surroundings before they even step out of the 17th-century hamlet. Its rails are lined with souvenirs such as silk scarves crafted in northern France by Inoui Editions, linen dresses from Luxe Provence made between Provence and Paris, and embroidered cotton blouses from Valentina Store produced in an atelier a few kilometres away in Malaucène. 

As well as highlighting the region’s savoir-faire and skilled couturières, the in-house Hôtel Crillon le Brave collection of wicker baskets, espadrilles and outerwear has proven to be an effective communications tool, spreading the word for the luxury hotel group, which has outposts in Saint-Tropez, Paris and Méribel. Every space takes inspiration from its surroundings; in Crillon le Brave, this translates to rustic shelving, Génoise-tiled floors and luscious pots of lavender. “As a family-owned hotel, we like to tell a story through the brands that we stock,” says Lombard.

caribbean collection
Dolores at Palm Heights
Cayman Islands

Urban fashion capitals no longer have exclusivity when it comes to brand collaborations. Today, you can find limited-edition items by the likes of Wales Bonner, Tekla and Bode even in the Caribbean. In the Cayman Islands, the founder and creative director of the Palm Heights hotel, Gabriella Khalil, regularly teams up with some of fashion’s most in-demand names for the hotel’s shop, Dolores. 

The boutique stocks exclusive items such as sarongs by Christopher John Rogers and striped pyjamas by Danish giant Tekla. New York-based Bode even adapted the hotel’s towels into smart terry jackets. “We have collaborated with Bode on our uniforms from the very beginning and, since then, we have also designed our first collection with them,” says Khalil. “Art, design and fashion has always been a part of our ethos.”


Khalil also prioritises designers and brands from the Caribbean. “I launched Dolores with [crochet knitwear specialist] Diotima because the label’s clothes are made between Jamaica and New York, and now we’re collaborating with [Jamaican-US label] Theophilio,” she says. “We want to involve people who are making waves in fashion but we’re also in the Caribbean, so we need our items to reflect that.”

The hotel’s line of merchandise, Palm Heights Athletics (pha), consists of branded shorts, jumpers, socks and, soon, a range of pha sunglasses. “We want to provide items that people will use when they go home, not just on holiday,” says Khalil. “I was nervous about launching a hotel shop at first but I have surprised myself with how passionate I have become about Dolores.”

exclusive experiences
Il Pellicano
Porto Ercole, Italy

Tuscany’s Argentario coast is best known for its clear waters and rugged cliffs. For Marie-Louise Sciò, it’s also home. Her family has been running Il Pellicano here since 1979. The hotel was opened in the 1950s by a US socialite and a UK aviator as a haunt for their glamorous friends, and has always had a certain magic associated with it.


Sciò, who took over as ceo and creative director in 2011, wanted her guests to be able to take some of that magic home with them. So she opened the Pellicano boutique and began curating collections that capture the hotel’s old-school elegance. “The boutique was born of a desire to extend the Pellicano’s charm into a shopping experience,” she tells monocle. “I wanted a space where guests could find items that resonate with our philosophy.”

Joy is central to this – hence the bright interiors, complete with pink cabinets and sunny accents. Sciò, who is her own best customer, mixes artisanal Italian brands such as Florence-based Loretta Caponi, best known for handcrafted bedding, with more established names including Métier, a London-based leather-goods label. In 2020 she launched Issimo Corner, a dedicated space for limited-edition products designed for Il Pellicano in collaboration with Scio. The exclusivity enhances the hotel’s five-star offering.

house specialities
Loja boutique at Casa Mãe
Lagos, Portugal

When former investment banker Veronique Polaert opened Loja boutique at Casa Mãe hotel in southern Portugal, she envisioned a retail destination in its own right and wasn’t discouraged by the lack of comparable shops in the region. Polaert was born in France and has lived in London and Los Angeles. Not being native to the area allowed her to take a risk in a city where change happens slowly. “Locals said that the concept wouldn’t work because Portugal’s hotel retail industry tends to focus on items considered useful for guests staying at the hotel, while our boutique was about decor,” says Polaert, who works with artisans across the country to design exclusive items for the boutique and promote Brand Portugal. 


Loja stocks limited-edition collaborations with furniture designers, textile ateliers and marble sculptors, including stoneware pieces by Braga-based Atulipa and colourful cotton beach towels by Futah, made in the northern Douro region. Polaert’s commitment to Made in Portugal also extends to the boutique’s interiors: she worked with Algarve-based firm Alberto Rocha on the custom tiles, while weaver Teresa Gameiro created jute rugs for the entrance. As for the staff’s smart uniforms, they were designed by Porto-based label La Paz, whose maritime-inspired garments also line the shop’s rails. 

“We curate a selection that reflects our sunny aesthetics,” says Polaert, who sees value in creating a sense of place and telling the stories of the region with her wares. “The trend of promoting local craftsmanship in hotels remains a niche concept but I like to think that Loja is proof that hotel retail can go beyond a mainstream approach.”

retail romantics
Anthologist at Cosme
Paros, Greece

Andria Mitsakos has been working in the hospitality industry since the 1990s, helping to shape the communications strategies of a wide range of hotels, from Coquillade Provence and El Mangroove in Costa Rica to Phaea Blue Palace in Crete. “I remember the gift shops of the 1990s, which were stacked with things that you would never buy or necessities such as sun cream,” says Mitsakos. “We have moved through a number of different phases since then. For a while, hotel boutiques didn’t exist, then the big brands came in and started renting the retail space. Today we’re returning to authenticity.”

What does authenticity look like when it comes to resort retail? “Items that have a sense of place, are exclusive to the area and tell a story of local craft,” says Mitsakos. She recently moved to her native Athens from the US and opened her by-appointment showroom, Anthologist. The shop is brimming with such products: think leather and brass belts for cinching caftans, gold and blue enamel jewellery paying homage to the Aegean sea, vintage textiles, komboloi bracelets handmade using glass beads and customised stationery. 

This summer, Mitsakos will take Anthologist on the road with a boutique at Cosme hotel on Paros, hoping to meet travellers who share her passion for artisanal fashion. “People aren’t looking to buy the same items that they can purchase at home,” she says. “In summer resorts in particular, purchases are driven by emotion.”

Sunny table on the Aegean coast
Striking gold
Waiter at the Cosme Paros
Exterior of the Cosme
Andria Mitsakos
Artisanal finds
Crocheted bag by Anthologist
A more intimate retail experience

Cosme is located in Naoussa, a village at the heart of the island. Mitsakos’s space is in the middle of the lobby. “It’s completely open, with no lock and key, and no opening hours,” she says. “You just pass through, rather than having to open a door and commit to spending time inside.” She points to a new trend in hotel retail that is all about creating more inviting shopping spaces. “It’s like being in someone’s closet. As you walk past, you might try on a blouse or pick up a beautiful bracelet. It’s a poetic approach that takes me back to the era of the grand hotel.” 

Because it’s in a summer outpost, the shop’s selection naturally caters for hot weather but Mitsakos also sprinkles in home decor pieces such as hand-blown vases or year-round fashion items such as kimonos to ensure that customers will still use these purchases long after they fly home with them.

Even as resort retail evolves, established luxury names will always dominate a part of the market, says Mitsakos. “Travel is aspirational. People want to spend while they’re on holiday, so this is an easy way for the big brands to gain access to a new clientele.” Yet people are now seeking out intimate experiences, creating more space for concepts such as Anthologist to pop up. “Ours is a very romantic approach to retail,” says Mitsakos. “I picture someone coming in, buying stationery and a beautiful pen, writing a letter and tucking it into their lover’s bag before leaving for the airport.”

Bringing it all back home

Few things can bring back memories like a holiday purchase, however small – even a T-shirt or a cap picked up on your travels can revive moments spent in the sun if they feature, say, the logo of your favourite summer resort. “Hotel merchandise is so popular because it represents an experience,” says Francesco Sersale, head of business development and marketing at the family-run Le Sirenuse hotel on the Amalfi Coast. “It’s a marker of having been somewhere.” Given their limited availability, items such as a graphic T-shirt from Positano seafood restaurant Da Adolfo, featuring its widely recognised fish motif, or a tote bag from Les Roches Rouges hotel on the Côte d’Azur could be considered more exclusive than many designer accessories. Here are three must-have items from the Mediterranean.

Float from Hotel du Cap, Antibes
Trinket tray from Le Sirenuse
T-shirt from Da Adolfo, Positano

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