Over the past 20 years, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has grown to include 34 hotels and 28 restaurants in San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Denver and Aspen, Colo.; Chicago; Salt Lake City; Washington, D.C.; Whistler and Vancouver in British Columbia.

In each location, the combination of boutique, four-star service and adjacent destination restaurant has proven to be a great success.

Bill Kimpton, the man credited with this concept, laid a strong foundation for focusing on his guests' comfort, first and foremost. Combining this philosophy with his financial acumen, he launched a powerful combination. "My theory is, no matter how much money people have to spend on big, fancy hotels, they're still intimidated and unsettled when they arrive," Kimpton often said. "So, the psychology of how you build restaurants and hotels is very important. You put a fireplace in the lobby and create a warm, friendly restaurant and the guest will feel safe."

Affordability is another key to Kimpton Hotels' success. Room rates range from under $100 - $195, single or double -- 25 to 30 percent lower than comparable hotels in the respective markets.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is able to offer such affordable rates by keeping the investment cost per room low. Following Bill's lead, the company negotiates a good deal on a sound older building and then renovates it with the emphasis on guest room comfort rather than high overhead amenities such as fancy fountains or excessive "brass and glass."

Kimpton's imaginative approach to lodging stemmed from his own experience as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers (now Shearson Lehman Brothers, Inc.) In Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, he built his banking reputation by working with a number of emerging companies. For example, he helped Kentucky Fried Chicken expand from a $2 million operation to one eventually sold for $275 million. He was involved in the founding meetings for Hospital Corporation of America, which is now, 25 years later, a $6 billion company. When Harry Helmsley wanted $23 million to renovate New York's Palace Hotel, he contacted Bill Kimpton, who raised the money in $1 million increments -- an achievement unprecedented then and still remarkable today. Kimpton also handled the financing for the exclusive Kapalua Bay resort Hotel in Maui and brought in the Rockefeller family's RockResorts to manage the property.

Kimpton's properties reflect their founder's personal style. Like the trademark multi-color sweaters he always wore, each of the hotels and the restaurants is warm and inviting with a distinct theme and personality of their own. Hotel lobbies are furnished with the emphasis on comfort, not waiting. The trademark cozy fireplaces and plushly furnished conversation areas make Kimpton's lobbies a favorite gathering place for guests, especially since complimentary wine is served there each evening. The first-class guest rooms are stylishly decorated in cheerful colors. Elegant bedspreads and drapes, thick carpeting and handsome furniture make them feel like a guest room at a friend's home instead of a generic room. All have such convenient amenities as stocked honor bar/refrigerators, writing desks with good lighting, direct dial, two-line telephones, and color TV.

A high degree of personalized service and numerous complimentary amenities are also hallmarks of Kimpton's hotels. For example, the hotels feature some or all of the following complimentary services, depending on location: limousine to the financial district, evening wine served in the lobby, continental breakfast, coffee and tea available throughout the day. Most hotels also offer same-day valet laundry service, room service, express check-out and on-site parking.

One of the most notable feature of Kimpton's hotels are their restaurants. Most of the hotels are paired with an adjacent destination restaurant or are within close walking distance of a Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants restaurant.

"Our restaurants are run by restaurateurs," explains Niki Leondakis, Senior Vice President, Restaurants. "We provide service to the hotel, but our restaurants are more than a food and beverage outlet. We are a profitable, independent, and separate business."

The proof of the restaurant division's success is evidenced by the fact that several restaurants have been opened as "free-standing" properties, i.e., that are not connected to a hotel. "We started out as a hotel company that had great restaurants," Kimpton liked to note. "Now, the popularity of our restaurants stands on its own."

Each restaurant is individually themed and features a variety of food styles, price ranges and ambiances. From a sidewalk trattoria to a fine-dining French restaurant, the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants restaurants offer diners value and quality. Many of the restaurants feature exhibition kitchens with counter seating -- the perfect alternative for guests who are dining alone. The restaurants repeatedly win praise from locals and food critics alike.

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