27 Jul Paris 2015
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Paris is still in the midst of recovery from the terror attacks. I have brought together the top General Managers of the most prestigious hotels in Paris to give insight into how the tourism industry has been affected and what security measures were taken.
They were gracious enough to share their candid thoughts, how they are moving forward and what some of their favorite things in Paris are.
Their resilience, grace and hospitality will resonate in years to come.
Following is an excerpt of the responses from the esteemed panel I had the honor to interview:
Franka Holtmann, Le Meurice Paris
Frédéric Picard, La Réserve Paris
Philippe Leboeuf, Mandarin Oriental Paris
Nicolas Béliard, The Peninsula Paris
Christian Boyens, Ritz Paris
JB: What security measures did your hotel take for the guests and staff in the aftermath of the attack?
Didier Le Calvez (DLC): We have closed all annex doors and left only the main entrance available for guests to come in. All bags were also systematically checked when entering the hotel and the restaurants.
We are quite fortunate to be located next to Place Bauveau and the Élysée Palace, which makes us probably the most secure hotel in Paris. We benefit from all the security procedures in place to protect the road. For this reason, we didn’t put any extravagant security procedures in place.
Nicolas Béliard (NB): The safety of our guests and employees is our utmost priority and the hotel’s management team is taking every possible precaution to ensure their security. Following the attacks, a range of enhanced measures have been put in place including security checks when entering the hotel and around the building.
Philippe Leboeuf (PL): We already had a demanding security policy, but we needed to take extra measures like backpack searches to all guests and staff coming inside the hotel, add security agents, identifications of all luggage, etc.
Christian Boyens (CB): Paris was shaken up by the attacks of November 13th but the culture of the Parisians can’t be changed. Today, the bistros and cafes are once again filled and the terraces packed. There is clearly an immediate impact on the hotels and its staff members as many visitors cancelled or delayed their trip into the City of Lights. Security measures are being reviewed and staff properly trained.
Frédéric Picard (FP): We have increased the level of security by adding additional security guards. Having said that, we are a stone’s throw from the Élysée Palace (our French White house) and, therefore, the area is very well secured.
JB: How is business now and, moving forward, what are you doing to give clients a comfort level?
PL: The attacks were a shock and we had immediate cancellations. Paris’s occupancy rate fell by 20 percent on Saturday, November 14 from Friday and an additional 20 percent on Sunday, November 15 the most recent days for which figures were available.
COP 21(Paris Climate Conference) helped us to move forward with a good occupancy rate. This international event has given a very positive sign and showed how Paris was able to welcome an international event and hundreds of statesmen without any security problem.
DLC: Of course, business has been down since the terrible event for hotels in Paris which amount to a loss of about 25% so far. However, the COP 21 summit that was held this month has been a success in terms of security. Seeing the Head of States from all around the world staying in Paris has sent a very positive message to the entire world. The city is now back on its feet, Parisians are going out and getting back to their daily routine, preparing for the festive season with shopping and night outs in bars and bistros around town.
NB: Business is doing well since Paris hosted the COP 21 conference and the festive season is starting. We are fortunate to have sophisticated technology and CCTV features and a very well trained team of security officers.
JB: What is the current mood in Paris right now?
Franka Holtmann(FH): We still have the energy to fight and to do our utmost to take the best care of those clients who are staying with us in order to make sure they have a memorable visit.
NB: Christmas is just around the corner and life goes on. As a matter of fact, you do not really feel anything different; all stores and streets are brightened up with Christmas decorations and lighting and Parisians do their Christmas shopping and prepare to celebrate with their loved ones. Surveillance has been reinforced, but is scarcely perceptible though omnipresent. You can feel that people are enjoying the festive season. You can feel that everyone is full of anticipation and there is a strong sense of community.
CB: Paris is Paris and will also rebound after these most unfortunate incidents. There is a great sense of community among the Parisians to weather the storm.
DLC: There is definitely a sense of defiance; Parisians are committed to not let themselves get intimidated. Terror and terrorists are everywhere in the world and can be anywhere. What we notice since the attack is a great sense of nationalism with people buying the French flags more and singing La Marseillaise at any public event and gatherings. They pride themselves to be the keeper of Western customs and lifestyle.
PL: People are moving forward. The festive season will, hopefully, help people to forget their fears.
FP: We have to face the challenging time and we all stand up and return to business. Paris is a great city and all efforts from all of us in the hospitality business is to reinforce our position.
JB: What is your favorite thing to do in Paris?
DLC: I love spending time with my children and strolling around Paris’ gardens. I do think that Paris is a very child-friendly city with many public and open spaces for kids to discover. I like to discover museums and exhibitions that come to the capital and, of course, sitting in a bistro with my family.
NB: The simplest things are often the nicest. I very much like going for a Sunday family walk in Paris enjoying the Seine River and the beautiful Parisian monuments. Going for an early morning run when the city is still sleeping is something I am very much taking delight in, feeling privileged to have Paris to myself.
PL: A long walk taking in the Tuileries gardens, and the grounds of the Louvre which are a few steps away from the Mandarin Oriental Paris. I then like to walk along the Seine to Notre Dame and then up the Left Bank and across Pont Alexandre III. Walking along the river is the best way to take in the beauty of Paris. Even if it rains, it is still romantic. Paris is all about romance!
FP: Going to the Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées, running on the Seine Bank in the evening and enjoying the City of Lights.
CB: Musée Jacquemart-André (8ieme) is one of the most underrated museum in Paris and one that I enjoy visiting.
JB: What is one of your favorite restaurants in Paris?
FP: My favorite restaurant? Difficult to answer because there are plenty of them from bistros to 3 star Michelin. I would recommend the brunch at Mama Shelter with the family because the atmosphere is great and the food is casual, but exactly what you need during family time.
CB: Soma, Septime and Verjus are 3 of my favorites.
NB: Atelier Vivanda for its traditional French bistro atmosphere.
JB: Anything new and exciting in the hotel?
DLC: In 2016, we will entirely refurbish the lobby bar, Le Jardin Francais,into a lovely tea room and lounge for the guests to enjoy a peaceful and refined moment with us. For gastronomy and wine aficionados, Wine Mondays will be held at the 1 Michelin star brasserie 114 Faubourgoffering guests the exclusivity to discover a French winemaker recommended by Le Bristol’s head sommelier, Marco Pelletier.
NB: True to the tradition of the Peninsula Hotels, the team has started working on the celebration of the Chinese New Year in February. This is a rather important event for the hotel and we are working on a lion dance with traditional music and dancers plus a unique menu for our Cantonese restaurant, LiLi.
FP: We have created with Patrick Roger (the best chocolate maker in France) our Christmas log based on the Christmas baubles at La Réserve Paris. This coming year, we are going to provide a fantastic calendar of events called ACE based on Art, Culture and Emotion and every month we will bring together events based on these 3 elements.
PL: The Cake Shop at the Mandarin Oriental Paris has been redesigned by French artist, Mambo. The new visual identity was revealed last September together with limited-edition pastry boxes, bags and cups created by the artist. In March 2016, Guerlain will redesign one of our 7 spa suites and we also plan to install a kitchen garden on the roof offering dining experiences.
CB: As you know, we are taking reservations now at the Ritz Paris for the March 14, 2016 opening. We will have heated terraces, the first ever Chanel au Ritz Paris Spa, the Ritz Escoffier cooking school with 3 training kitchens and retractable roofs for our outdoor restaurants.
FH: Since Le Meurice Paris is very much into the arts, we have taken advantage of the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderneand created a ‘Pope of Pop’ special pop art menu in honor of this U.S. artist. On the menu is the traditional hamburger with new ‘energy’ and choux pastries in a range of disco colors.
JB: What Christmas gift would you like to receive?
PL: Books! I love books (literature, biographies, etc.).
FP: A cruise in Antarctica with my family.
NB: It would be great to spend more time with my family.
DLC: Win the lottery!
To my extraordinary partners, merci beaucoup!
Please contact Jody Bear for exclusive promotions and activities at these iconic hotels.
Vive le France!
|Top row: Didier Le Calvez and Steven Bear (co-president of Bear & Bear Travel), Franka Holtmann and Jody, Frederic Picard and Jody.
Bottom row: Phillipe Leboeuf and Jody, Nicolas Beliard and Jody, Christian Boyens and Jody.