“Although it is a small brand, it is our fifth hotel, the strength of Cheval Blanc is to benefit from all the know-how of the group”, declares Olivier Lefebvre, CEO of Cheval Blanc. Vogue Business.
“Our job is experiences. The hotel industry is in a way a laboratory at the service of luxury, ”explains Lefebvre. (For 72 rooms and suites, four restaurants and a spa, Cheval Blanc Paris employs 400.) “The talent of our teams is to personalize and detect the expectations and desires of our guests in terms of speed of service, level of formality. Training is essential. We have teams from other Cheval Blanc hotels here.
Cheval Blanc is part of the “other activities” division of LVMH, alongside hotelier Cipriani Belmond Last year, Andrea Guerra was appointed CEO of a new entity within the LVMH Hospitality Excellence conglomerate, which oversees Cheval Blanc and Belmond.
“[Belmond]the heritage of, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurial spirit resonate well with the values of the group and are complementary to our own Cheval Blanc houses and the activities of Bulgari hotels ”, declared Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH at the time of the acquisition. announced in December 2018. (A Bulgari hotel will open on Avenue George V in Paris.)
The justification for investing in experiential luxury is still relevant despite the difficult tourist landscape according to Mario Ortelli, CEO of Ortelli & Co, a strategy consulting firm for luxury products. This week, the EU recommended its member states to ban non-essential visitors from the United States following an increase in Covid-19 cases in the country. American customers are a key market for Cheval Blanc, particularly in Saint Barthélemy and St Tropez. It is also betting on American visitors to Paris. “The growth in demand for experiential luxury is a secular trend, driven by the new generation. In my opinion, when the Covid restrictions go away, spending will rebound dramatically, ”Ortelli said. “We have already seen this summer, when the restrictions were lifted in high-end locations, the best hotels sold with very high net per diems. Bernard Arnault never bets on next week. He is betting on the long term. I think experiential luxury is a good bet for him and his investors.
The occupancy rate of Parisian luxury hotels in the first seven months of 2021 was 14.3%, down sharply from 72.8% in 2019, according to MKG data; July saw a rise to 43 percent. August was also a strong month, according to François Delahaye, general manager of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, carried by the Middle East and the Americans. Tourist flows from the United States and the Middle East are expected to fully recover by 2023, according to Anita Balchandani, partner of McKinsey & Company EMEA and leader in apparel, fashion and luxury goods. She predicts that China, a generally important tourist region for France, remains a challenge, with flows to and from China expected to return to 80% of 2019 levels by 2024.