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Kimpton's Travel Groupies Don't Want to Stay at Holiday Inn

The sale of the Kimpton boutique hotel chain to a global behemoth stirs anger and grief among some of the company's fans
A leopard print bath robe in a suite at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco in San Francisco.

A leopard print bath robe in a suite at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco in San Francisco.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants Group has the kind of engaged fan base that notices when a more generic lodging behemoth such as InterContinental Hotels Group swoops in. The prompt backlash to IHG's $430 million cash deal for the boutique chain shows just how effectively Kimpton had cultivated customer loyalty. Many travelers were quick to assume that their beloved collection of 62 quirky properties, where pets are welcome and leopard print robes hang in the closets ,will soon be corporatized into homogeneity by the parent company of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza. Kimpton has 16 additional hotels opening through 2018, and the takeover is designed to help Kimpton expand beyond the U.S.

"This is like if you found out your favorite burger joint is being taken over by McDonald's," says Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco. "I think it shows that there's great affection from the traveling public for Kimpton and its brand." His view was echoed on social media.