In a city of Paris with tourist activity still weakened by the health crisis, a new luxury hotel with plunging views over the Seine opens Tuesday, owned by the LVMH group, which wants to renew the offer of Parisian palaces.
The establishment, 26 rooms and 46 suites, decorated with numerous works of art, is attached to the La Samaritaine department store, a jewel of Art Nouveau and Art Deco also owned by LVMH, which reopened its doors there. two and a half months, after 16 years and 750 million euros of work.
“We are going to have a very good start, we are very happy,” said Olivier Lefebvre, CEO of Cheval Blanc, the hotel brand of LVMH, already established in Courchevel, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Tropez and the Maldives, before praising “a fairly unique location […] close to the Marais as well as to Place Vendôme and Saint-Germain-des-Prés” “.
Designed by architects Peter Marino and Edouard François, the 16,000 m² hotel relies on a service provided by 400 employees. It has a spa and four restaurants with chef Arnaud Donckele, three Michelin stars for La Vague d´Or, the restaurant at the Cheval Blanc Saint-Tropez, in the kitchen of the Plénitude gourmet restaurant.
“It is decisive for us to be very attractive to all Parisians,” says Mr. Lefebvre. Some of them will be able to come and sip a 20-euro cocktail on the brasserie terrace, with a view of Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
The establishment opens its doors in the still desolate landscape of “the upscale Parisian hotel industry, which suffers from 18 months of Covid-19: one in two hotels remained closed in July and two in three in August”, for lack of wealthy clients from Asia, the Middle East or the United States, underlines Jean-Virgile Crance, president of the National Group of Hotel Chains (GNC).
But this Cheval Blanc establishment, which “defines new codes in relation to luxury hotels, if only by its location outside the ‘premium’ zone near the Champs-Élysées”, could be more resilient, believes Vanguélis Panayotis, president of the specialist firm MKG Consulting.
“He will take advantage of the range of 600 La Samaritaine brands and will target European customers who are less at risk in the short term,” he said. In addition, it “will not have 200 rooms to sell every evening, it remains a niche, atypical offer”, which moves away from “the traditional luxury hotel industry, embodied by the George V, the Plaza Athénée, the hotel Meurice”.
Adapt or close
These historic palaces must adapt, the expert judges, in the face of establishments with “less restrictive operating costs” and innovative offers, such as the one available around a spa at the La Réserve hotel, including the 40 suites. and rooms were acclaimed this summer.
Thus this summer the Shangri-La has definitively closed L’Abeille, its two-star restaurant in the Michelin Guide, and kept Shang Palace, its one-star Chinese restaurant, while offering a new catering offer in other areas. : garden terrace, open-air bar, etc.
As for the departure of multi-starred chef Alain Ducasse, after 20 years in the kitchen of the Plaza Athénée restaurant, and his replacement by Jean Imbert, winner of the Top Chef show in 2012 and close to Hollywood stars, he was seen as a small revolution and the sign that some palaces wish to move towards less expensive models and attract new customers.