ift shops make a nice addition to hotels
to sell food & beverage-related souvenirs
as mementos. In many cases, they help
extend the hotel’s brand identity
because gift shops are often more accessible
to the general public than the property itself.
The Inn Shops, housed in a restored 1740s tavern
across the street from the 16-room Inn at Little
Washington in Washington, Virginia, contains a
suite of five interconnected shops themed around
jewelry and accessories; art; cigars and wine accoutrements;
china and glassware; and food and clothing.
Rachel Hayden, marketing manager, says chef
and owner Patrick O’Connell’s two cookbooks are
top sellers at the gift shop. “The recipes in them are
really approachable. People come and spend the
night or have dinner, then take a cookbook home
and recreate some of the things that they enjoyed
while they were here.”
Recently, the inn began selling its house-made
jams, which guests experience as part of the breakfast
service. Diners at the inn, which was just rated
the #1 hotel restaurant in the country by Zagat, leave
with a tiny “picnic basket” filled with cookies and
chocolates. The gift shop sells two items out of that
basket—candied grapefruit rind and almonds coated
in caramel and chocolate. So even if one can’t afford
the inn’s least expensive room ($395 off peak) or
least expensive meal ($138 per person, before tax
and tip), one can venture into the gift shop, buy a
jar of jam or bag of almonds, and dream.
The gift shop also sells oatmeal cookies sprinkled
with fleur de sel, O’Connell’s favorite muffins—
carrot with a cream cheese center— and a currant
rye bread. “The cookies and muffins fly out the
door. We bake them twice a day to keep up with
Not only are the shops frequented by guests, but
it is a favorite pit stop for locals, tourists on their
way to the nearby Shenandoah National Park, and
those who merely want to see what the renowned
inn is about.
The idea behind selling so much food started,
says Hayden, when guests began asking if they could
have things like granola or the bar nuts shipped to
them. The nuts are so popular that even though
there’s a recipe for them in the cookbook, the gift
shop sells the spice mix because many feel they can’t
The gift shop also sells a lot of china. “Patrick
has an eclectic collection of tastes,” says Hayden.“When you have dinner here, you have many different
patterns that come through. He likes to change
things and mix new funky Bernadaud-type styles
with classic old Wedgwood patterns.” Hayden says
the breakfast china from Bernadaud is a top seller.
“It’s beautiful and sweet. People often fall in love
with it and buy a setting for six.” Another top seller
is the chef gear printed with the inn’s signature
SLEEP & SHOP
Anyone who makes it to the town of Fort Davis,
population 1,100, located in the southwest part of
Texas and 170 miles from a commercial airport,
would surely be compelled to stop at the 41-room
Hotel Limpia, one of the town’s major points of
interest. Next to the hotel is Hotel Limpia Gifts and
right across the street is another hotel-owned gift
shop, Javelinas and Hollyhocks.
The Limpia shares the same ownership as
Hotel Paisano, 22 miles away in the town of
Marfa. The Paisano also has its own gift shop, and
Diane Moore, buyer and retail manager for all the
shops, says the challenge in running three shops
is making each one feel distinct as well as selecting
items “people won’t see everywhere else.”
Hotel Limpia Gifts, the largest of the shops at
around 3,000 square feet, sells lots of cookbooks,
especially those featuring Texas cuisine. But the
best seller is the hotel’s own cookbook where purchasers
can find the recipe for the hotel’s famed
honey buttermilk biscuits. The shop sells private
label jams, preserves, honeys, and hot sauces.
Anything from Texas is a hit, says Moore, such as
Aunt Aggie De’s pralines made in Sinton and candies
from the Davis Mountain Nut Company.
Javelinas and Hollyhocks is much smaller and is
great for children and nature lovers, offering games
and hiking accessories. The Paisano gift shop is
more high end and sells some home furnishings.
“The gift shops are a great profit center for the
hotel,” says Moore and it’s not uncommon for
entire busloads of tourists to descend on them.
Hotel Limpia Gifts also gets many local shoppers
because it’s the go-to place in Fort Davis for
bridal registry and baby showers.
About 50 percent of shoppers at the Hotel del
Coronado in San Diego are day visitors intrigued
by its National Historic Landmark status. The
hotel has 20 shops, including Babcock and Story
Emporium, named after the founders of the
hotel. Valerie Willis, retail director, describes
Babcock and Story as a “California lifestyle store”
that sells home accessories and gourmet foods,
mostly from Stonewall Kitchens. Popular items
include the dishes, glasses, and silverware used in
the restaurant as well as a chocolate bar molded
in the shape of the hotel’s “iconic” turret.
Unlike the Inn at Little Washington, the
Limpia Hotel, and the “Hotel Del,” the Post
Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, is a private compound,
and, therefore, its 450-square foot gift
shop is strictly for guests, says GM Dan Priano.
The gift shop sells the furnishings, bedding,
robes, and spa treatments featured at the inn. A top
seller is a cookbook featuring the recipes of Craig
von Foerster, chef at the Inn’s restaurant, Sierra Mar.
The inn makes its own granola and jams, which,
after an expansion, may be added to the gift shop,
At the Post Ranch Inn, where the least expensive
room starts at $550 a night and tops out at
$2,400, most are only able to press their nose
against the glass of their car windows and sigh in
envy as they drive by. But now, thanks to the
Internet, outsiders can press their nose against the
glass of their computer screens as they order from
the inn’s website (www.postranchmercantile.com
which “offers the opportunity for you to have, or
to share with someone special, some of the tangible
things our guests enjoy at Post Ranch Inn.
Beth Rogers is a frequent contributor to HOTEL F&B.