Hote­liers aim for high-net­worth guests in Paris

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By ANIA NUSS­BAUM and FRAN­COIS DE BEAUPUY Bloomberg News

A stone’s throw from the Arc de Tri­om­phe, in a build­ing where Ge­orge Gersh­win com­posed “An Amer­i­can in Paris” in 1928, the Penin­sula opened its doors on Aug 1, be­com­ing the French cap­i­tal’s lat­est five-star ho­tel.

Qatar’s Katara Hos­pi­tal­ity and The Hongkong and Shang­hai Ho­tels spent $1 bil­lion on the project, buy­ing the build­ing from the French For­eign Min­istry, which had taken it over af­ter World War II, when it had served as the Ger­man army head­quar­ters.

The Penin­sula’s open­ing co­in­cided with the re­open­ing of another lux­ury ho­tel in the city, the Plaza Athe­nee, which had been closed for sev­eral months for re­fur­bish­ment, in­creas­ing su­per-high-end lodg­ing op­tions for the world’s rich. While Paris — one of the world’s mostvis­ited cities — has fewer five-star ho­tels than New York or Lon­don, the mar­ket’s heat­ing up with sev­eral new and ren­o­vated ho­tels set to come on stream by 2016.

“I think the com­pe­ti­tion in 2016 will be in­tensely tough,” Ni­co­las Beliard, gen­eral man­ager of the Penin­sula Paris, says.

For now, Paris’s ho­tel mar­ket re­mains at­trac­tive as the French cap­i­tal con­tin­ues to lure an in­creas­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors, es­pe­cially newly wealthy ones from emerg­ing mar­kets.

About 30 mil­lion tourists vis­ited Paris last year, with 40 per­cent of them com­ing from over­seas.

Although the large ma­jor­ity of clients of lux­ury ho­tels are still Amer­i­can, Bri­tish or Ja­panese, since a grow­ing num­ber of them are com­ing from coun­tries such as China, ho­tel chains are tak­ing note.

“Twenty years ago, all ho­tels had the same code,” Vanguelis Panay­otis, direc­tor of devel­op­ment at Paris­based MKG Hos­pi­tal­ity, an in­dus­try anal­y­sis group, says.

“Now, they spe­cial­ize to ap­peal to par­tic­u­lar clients. The Penin­sula is a bit os­ten­ta­tious com­pared to what tra­di­tional clients seek. Western­ers want a more au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.”

At the Penin­sula, Chi­nese lion sculp­tures greet vis­i­tors at the en­trance and it has a Can­tonese res­tau­rant — one of the ho­tel’s six eater­ies — a re­minder of its Hong Kong con­nec­tion.

Its other res­tau­rant L’Oiseau Blanc, or the White Bird, has a minia­ture of the French bi­plane by the same name that dis­ap­peared over the At­lantic in 1927.

The ho­tel’s Kle­ber bar is at the site where for­mer US Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger ne­go­ti­ated the peace agree­ment that ended the Viet­nam War. The talks took place at the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence cen­ter that emerged from the con­ver­sion of the Ho­tel Ma­jes­tic, which the Ger­mans had taken over dur­ing the war — like they did sev­eral oth­ers dur­ing their oc­cu­pa­tion of the cap­i­tal.

With 200 rooms in­clud­ing suites with rooftop gar­dens, a spa, and the Penin­sula’s sig­na­ture Rolls-Royce li­mou­sine ser­vice, the ho­tel has in­tro­duc­tory rates from 695 eu­ros ($933) to 25,000 eu­ros ($33,500) a night for the most ex­pen­sive suite. It also boasts an in-house de­vel­oped tablet ap­pli­ca­tion to man­age the tem­per­a­ture and the lights of each room.

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