The Small Luxury Hotels of the World brand kept its first place status, winning number one for the second year in a row in the fourth Luxury Brand Status Index, LBSI, a survey released from the New York City-based Luxury Institute. The survey polls wealthy Americans.RockResorts took to second, while Peninsula and Ritz-Carlton tied for third. Last year, Club Med was first, Conrad Hotels & Resorts second, and Crillon Hotels third. In April of 2006, however, Ritz-Carlton was first, Peninsula was second, and Small Luxury Hotels and Four Seasons tied for third. “To score high in this category is like a double win, if you will.; it’s significant because it is such a competitive category, where lots of companies deliver at very high levels,” Milton Pedraza (pictured, CEO of Luxury Institute, told CPN. “When you see that a Small Luxury Hotels or a Rock Resort is coming out in first and second place, it means that consumers are looking for exclusivity and local flavor. These smaller hotels are unique and very much in line with what the local ambience, Padraza points out. They typically fit into their environment more than larger, more standardized, hotels. “These are boutique hotels, independently owned and very individual,” he notes. What the survey suggests, he observed, is that wealthy consumers value intimacy and local flavor, and they want a very personalized experience. The top ten in order were: Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Rock Resorts, Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Hotel, Orient Express, St. Regis, Four Seasons, Leading Hotels of the World, and the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Other small luxury hotels included in the survey were, in alphabetical order: Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Club Med, Crillon Hotels, Fairmont, InterContinental, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Loews, Park Hyatt, Regent, Rosewood, Sofitel, and W. Hotels. The national survey for 2008 was sent online to 1,642 Americans with an average net worth of $3.7 million, and an average income of $348,000. Fifty-one percent of those polled were female, with an average income of $1.1 million. The index includes questions in four major categories: quality, exclusivity, social status and self-enhancement. One new question this year was: If you had the power to change just one thing about this particular brand, what would that be? the most interesting response to that new question was (in reference to a hotel not mentioned above) according to Pedraza: “Stop trying to be so hip. Get decent illumination in the lobby and reasonable music. Have staff be more attentive to guests and less dedicated to being “cool.” The Luxury Institute is a research organization about the wealthy, targeting information and marketing strategies that concern the top 10 percent of America’s most affluent. Besides its surveys, it also holds conferences. The next one, in New York this June, concerns e-commerce and online strategies.