News: Paris update

The French capital has become used, sadly, to public demonstrations. First the Yellow Vests and now, well, more or less anyone. The current disruptions started Thursday 5th December and no-one knows how long they will go on for – though it is probably certain that the demonstrators will take their own Christmas break. (LTE tip, the period over 25th December could be a great time to take a Paris mini-break!)

Richard Launay retired from Sofitel Santa Clara, Cartagena, Colombia – but was enticed to Paris two months ago as interim GM of The Royal Monceau Raffles Paris. He says ‘Paris and France on strike and a hotel with full occupancy … an intricate challenge where employees play a one-man show while demanding guests remain spectators of a street chaos without imagining the internal turbulence within the property!

‘A good exercise of anticipation: staff planning, transportation , supplies and amenities, deliveries…The show must go on! The positive aspect of it is the incredible response of the hotel team, their willingness to exceed expectations and the pride to deliver the impossible! The best possible team building!’

Allowing team members to experience staying in the hotel is also a feature at Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris, a few metres from the Elysée Palace at rue d’Anjou. ‘Last night, five rooms were occupied by F&B and Housekeeping staff’, said GM Gerald Van Reck today, Thursday 12th December. Team members also organise taxi-sharing within the Paris area.

François Delahaye is COO of The Dorchester Collection and hands-on GM of the glorious 188-key Hôtel Plaza-Athenée. Speaking late Wednesday 11th December, on his return from a dinner at The Vatican, he admitted that rooms business is slightly down but he is using those rooms to accommodate his own staff. (This gives them the opportunity to experience their own hotel: all Dorchester Collection staff, after six months’ tenure, can, worldwide and at any time space permitting, stay up to three nights, breakfast for two included, but in any Dorchester Collection hotel other their own.)

The Michelin three-star Alain Ducasse at Plaza-Athenée has been full every night and, overall, restaurants and bars have not suffered, says Delahaye. Banquetting is seeing, on average, 20 percent of guests not turning up.

But it does seem that good hoteliers in Paris can cope yet again. At Le Grand InterContinental, indeed, GM Christophe Laure’s ongoing topic of conversation is operatic enthusiasm for his sumptuous new rooms, including a Champagne-hued Garnier Suite, all part of designer Pierre-Yves Rochon’s new look. This is, demonstrations permitting, enabling the 456-key hotel, next to Opera Garnier, already on form to achieve its desired €150 hike to ADR.

Perhaps a key to success at this time is shared by Franka Holtmann, GM Hôtel le Meurice: ‘Keep calm and don’t forget your walking shoes! The show goes on!’ she said after treking to work today, Thursday 12th December – again.

– Mary Gostelow

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