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Closing up the Ritz


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#1 Rail Paul

Rail Paul

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 12:20 AM

Elaine Sciolino has an article about the upcoming close of the Ritz Hotel for much needed improvements. Once considered the apex of Parisian establishments, the hotel has been surpassed (in the view of some observers) by several newer properties.

The plan is to close the hotel for more than two years as improvements are made to the rooms, public spaces, and amenities. The article notes that the French tourism ministry recently identified "palace level" establishments in Paris, and included only Plaza-Athénée, the Meurice, the Bristol and the Park Hyatt Vendôme. The George V was added to the list following its protest about being left off.

The brutal reality is that the Paris grande dames, no matter how good their bone structures, have not aged well, and younger beauties are invading their turf. Le Royal Monceau, just off the Champs-Élysées, opened a year ago after a basement-to-roof renovation by Philippe Starck that added an art gallery and cinema. The Shangri-La opened last December in a building that housed the grand-nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. Forty percent of the rooms and 60 percent of the suites look right at the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, and nearly half have balconies and terraces.

The Mandarin Oriental, which opened in June behind an Art Deco-inspired facade on the Rue Saint Honoré, has rooms with neutral tones and sleek furnishings; animated floral graphics over the swimming pool; a 10,000-square-foot spa; a restaurant run by the Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx; and a vast courtyard garden. In 2013, Peninsula Hotels will open its first outpost in Europe in what used to be the Hotel Majestic, near the Arc de Triomphe. And a year later, LVMH is slated to unveil its redo of the old, Seine-facing Samaritaine department store, which will become the 80-room Cheval Blanc hotel (with its own Vuitton store).


Designer Thierry W. Despont will supervise the restoration of the hotel, but

Some things he will barely be allowed to touch: the building facade, the Art Deco bas-reliefs and wood paneling in the Imperial suite and the allegorical ceiling and 18th-century marquetry floors of the Chopin suite are classified as historic monuments. The wood-paneled Hemingway bar will stay, but the Vendôme Bar will be enlarged and fully renovated with the addition of a glass roof. There will be new suites with their own terraces overlooking the garden. But the rest remains a secret. One consultant said the plans include direct underground access to a parking garage so celebrities can come and go unnoticed (so far unheard of in Paris), a new soundproofing system between rooms and floors, a new set of suites overlooking the gardens, bathtubs that will fill up in 10 seconds.


The comments to the article are revealing. People describing romantic visits, other people discussing the accommodations of "the 1%", etc. The usual mix of snarky and bragging comments.

Putting on the Ritz

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