As applications for the 2009 Inc. 500 | 5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, go to One that caught our eye was San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group.

Investment banker Bill Kimpton started with one hotel in San Francisco in 1981 as a real estate investment; the company has since grown to 45 hotels across the United States, and one in Canada. Last year, the company ranked No. 1,260 on the Inc. 500|5000 list.

"We're known as the founder of the boutique segment of hotels," says COO Niki Leondakis. "Today, we're the largest boutique hotel operator in the United States."

The hotels boast highly personal care, award-winning restaurants, and "playful, lighthearted" environments by world-class designers—right down to the sleepwear.

"We have living room style lobbies in our hotels, with fireplaces that make you feel like you're a guest at a cocktail party at home, rather than staying in a hotel," says Leondakis. "And we're known for our luxurious animal-print robes."

The company, which manages hotels for third-party owners nationwide in addition to its own properties, also prides itself on its dedication to the environment as a leader in eco-friendly hotel management. The hotel line has made a lifelong commitment to environmental responsibility through its Earthcare program, which regulates eco-friendly practices and products in every one of its hotels.

"It's all about care," says Leondakis. "We care for our employees, who in turn genuinely care for our guests. We care for our investors, by doing a good job delivering on our financial commitments. We care for the environment by being a leader in eco-friendly hotel operations. And we care for our communities through a strong commitment to social responsibility in all of our hotels and restaurants across the brand."

For more information and to apply to the 2009 Inc. 500|5000, go to