PARIS – After four years of refurbishment work costing 430 million euros, the Peninsula Paris hotel opens its doors on Friday, promising prince-like treatment to well-heeled visitors to the French capital.
It is part of a battle to attract Asia’s new class of super-rich that not only pits the world’s top hotel groups against each other but also cities such as Paris, New York and London.
For the Peninsula team, it is a long-term investment, piggybacking on Paris’s efforts to woo the Chinese in particular over the past decade – yet it comes as the luxury industry in France is feeling the pinch from a drop in traffic from Russian, Indonesian and Japanese tourists.
Even spending by the Chinese, the world’s No. 1 shoppers, only rose 14 percent in France in the first six months of the year, after rising by more than 20 percent and higher in the past few years, according to VAT-refund company Global Blue.
Such projects are important for the government too. France is seeking to exploit its position as the world’s most visited country to boost the trade balance and stimulate the euro zone’s flatlining second economy by convincing tourists to spend more.
Located in a 1908 building a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees, the hotel will offer rooms starting at just over 1,000 euros a night and rising to 25,000 euros for a penthouse suite with its own roof-top garden.
Each of the 200 rooms allows guests to make free phone calls anywhere in the world and is fitted with a printer, coffee machine, a nail polish-dryer and a tablet centralising all functions from dimming lights to ordering breakfast.
A fleet of BMWs, Mini Coopers, two Rolls-Royces together with 600 staff, including masseuses and cigar connoisseurs, are on hand to cater to every whim of its guests.
The Peninsula will need to spare no effort to stand out against other newcomers such as the Mandarin Oriental, the Shangri-La and the Royal Monceau operated by the Singapore hotel group Raffles which opened their doors in recent years.
Once the refurbished Ritz and Crillon hotels re-open next year, Paris will have increased by over 50 percent its number of five-star beds to over 2,000 in little over a decade.
“There may be some over-capacity in the short term but for me it is not a problem as it will be absorbed and these new hotels will reinforce Paris’ image as a luxury destination,” said Georges Panayotis of hotel and tourism consultancy MKG.
Indeed, analysts say it will take at least 25 years if not more to get a return on an investment the size of the Peninsula Paris, or an estimated 750 million euros (1 billion dollars), when including the cost of acquiring the building. — Reuters
New Paris hotel joins race to pamper the super rich