The Business Times

Paris luxury hotels are hiking prices by 5,000 euros a night on some suites

Published Wed, Sep 21, 2022 · 01:47 PM

One of Paris’ most expensive hotel suites just got even pricier. A night in the top suite at the Bristol, one of the city’s famed palace hotels, has risen by 5,000 euros (S$7,035) as American tourists, travelling with their strong dollars, have returned en masse to the French capital.

Le Bristol, a 3-minute walk from the presidential Élysée Palace residence, increased all its room rates following a summer season that broke records in terms of occupancy and average rates, says Catherine Hodoul-Baudry, the hotel’s commercial and marketing director. She expects the high-end hotel to have its best year ever.

The Bristol’s top Imperial suite went up to 30,000 euros a night during the week of Aug 29, says Hodoul-Baudry, a 20 per cent increase. The price for the hotel’s entry-level rooms has also increased – by 300 euros, to 2,290 euros –following a jump in demand since May.

It’s common in the hotel industry to charge rates that vary from the official ones, depending on demand, discounts provided by tour operators, loyalty, as well as the duration of a customer’s stay.

The 3,475-square-foot, 3-room suite overlooks its French-style garden and boasts a dining area that can accommodate as many as 12 guests, according to the hotel’s description. It tends to be favoured by official delegations because of its size, the director says.

“There’s no price resistance” from our customers, Hodoul-Baudry says. “Paris is benefiting from a strong demand, so we took advantage of it after years of suffering”, from lockdowns but also terror attacks and protests. The rise in input costs for staff wages, food and energy has also prompted the Bristol to increase its rates, she adds.

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Hodoul-Baudry thinks a Netflix series may have helped, too. “Emily in Paris, while full of clichés, probably gave Americans the desire to return, thanks to its beautiful portrayal” of the city. The show, which premiered 2 years ago during the autumn of Covid-19 lockdowns, also ignited interest in those now-ubiquitous immersive Van Gogh exhibits. Americans are particularly fond of the Bristol’s Paris suite, whose rate has risen by 1,000 euros, to 12,000 euros a night, she says. The suite is temporarily displaying a Marc Chagall masterpiece, Les Mariés au coq.

Paris’ top luxury hotels are having to make do without Chinese tourists, still stuck at home, and without Russians since the end of February following the country’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions.

The Plaza Athénée, another palace hotel, which is a cut above 5-star status, also had a record summer helped by the euro-dollar parity, according to Francois Delahaye, the general manager. Americans now represent 45 per cent of its customers, up from about a quarter pre-pandemic. “They’re also staying longer,” he adds. Russians accounted for 9 per cent of the hotel’s clientele before the war.

“Money isn’t an issue” for clients, Delahaye says, adding that more are coming via private jet to avoid potential commercial airline disruptions. Staff have noticed this, he says, since they’ve been booking more limousine pickups at Le Bourget Airport, which caters to business and private clients, rather than at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Both managers say September and October are on track to be excellent months for luxury hotels, with Paris Fashion Week kicking off on Sep 26 and Paris+ par Art Basel, formerly known as the Fiac show, starting on Oct 20. This event typically attracts contemporary art collectors from the world over. But Delahaye and Hodoul-Baudry both remain cautious in predicting trends for next year amid the economic and financial uncertainties.

Newcomer Cheval Blanc has also done better than expected since the luxury hotel opened a year ago next to the Samaritaine shopping center, with rooms now starting at 1,250 euros.

It’s hoping to get palace status, which would bring the number of such hotels in the French capital to 13. Atout France, the agency charged with promoting the country as a tourism destination abroad, awards this title. Cheval Blanc charges 55,000 euros a night for a stay in its 10,780-square-foot apartment, which includes its own private elevator and swimming pool, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman declined to comment.

“Our first year went beyond our hopes,” says Olivier Lefebvre, chief executive of the LVMH luxury hotel brand. He declined to provide numbers, as the Louis Vuitton owner doesn’t break down figures by brand. “As of today, if we didn’t have these prophets of doom, I’d tell you that we’ll have a totally exceptional 2022,” he says cautiously, referring to gloomy economic forecasts.

But so far this year, customers have aimed “to enjoy themselves. Grandparents are inviting parents and grandchildren, we’re noticing many multigenerational trips, people are thinking they could die soon and they haven’t made the trip they wanted to make,” says Hodoul-Baudry. “It’s been all about revenge travel” in 2022. BLOOMBERG

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