In September 2012, the Hilton Arc de Triomphe in Paris was reflagged as the Hotel du Collectionneur. Two months later, it was awarded five stars by Atout France, the country’s tourism agency, making it the largest independent five-star hotel in France with 478 rooms.
The man behind the buzz is Bruno Chiaruttini, who, as GM starting in November 2012, has guided the property’s rebranding in the highly competitive luxury hotel market of Paris. Chiaruttini was recruited from Preferred Hotels & Resorts, where he served as managing director continental Europe. During a recent interview in Paris, Chiaruttini spoke with Hotel Management about his repositioning strategy.
“Previously there were a lot of clients redeeming Hilton HHonors points, as this was the only Hilton in Paris, so it’s where they stayed,” he said. “We are now looking for the right client, targeting the right customers. The first thing I did was build an entire sales and marketing team from scratch.”
The Société Immobilière et Hôtelière du Parc Monceau (SIHPM) first opened the purpose-built hotel on rue de Courcelles in 2004. After eight years under Hilton management, SIHPM decided to take the reins and manage its own property with a focus on art and culture. The hotel’s new name recalls Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s famous pavilion, L’Hôtel du Collectionneur, at the 1925 Paris Exposition, which first launched the Art Deco movement internationally. It’s quite fitting, as the hotel’s design—by prominent interior decorator Jacques Garcia—pays homage to Art Deco, inspired by the 1930s transatlantic oceanliners.
Today, the hotel has cultivated relationships with international embassies, and the VIP guest list reflects this. (Secretary of State John Kerry, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and world leaders stayed here for the celebrations in Normandy marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.) It’s also the hotel of choice for professional sports teams, and Usain Bolt recently spent a night. Almost 20,000 square feet of meeting and conference rooms help it attract a sizable number of conventions (like Jaguar), and river cruise companies such as Viking choose the hotel as their base in Paris. The American clientele continues to be the number-one market for the hotel.
“My objective was for the Hotel du Collectionneur to become one of the best five-star hotels, just behind the “palace” hotels. We’re not trying to be a palace hotel, as we’re not playing the same game as ultra-luxury Parisian properties like Le Bristol,” Chiaruttini said.
The challenge is to keep the high standards of an upscale, five-star hotel, despite the large number of guestrooms. “I’ve sought to achieve this with staff training, improving the service and how staff engages with customers. It’s also important to maintain a certain number of staff per guestroom. The main difference between four- and five-star hotels is service. We have four Clef d’or concierges, including the head concierge from the Hotel de Crillon [closed for renovation].”
Chiaruttini has also concentrated on maintenance, launching a refurbishment of 250 guestrooms over a period of one-and-a-half years. The polished facilities were then showcased to millions of TV viewers in summer 2014 when the Hotel du Collectionneur hosted the finale of the popular show, “Qui sera le prochain grand patissier?” (“Who will be the next grand pastry chef?,” which is akin to “Top Chef”).
Another focus is food and beverage. Last winter, an inflatable bubble was assembled over the hotel’s courtyard garden, where you could sip Moët & Chandon and nibble on couture-style éclairs by one of the hottest pastry chefs in town. (Celebrity Chef Christophe Adam created a limited-edition Art Deco éclair exclusively for the hotel.) During the World Cup, the terrace was a happening spot to watch the soccer matches with caïpirinhas and World Cup-themed cocktails. And this September, the hotel debuted a new restaurant menu from Michelin-starred Chef François Gagnaire, who was recruited from central France to oversee the hotel’s restaurant operations.
As Chiaruttini has led a staff of 300 employees to implement five-star hotel standards, he has also sought new distribution channels. “The number-one channel is the hotel’s new website, and we recently hired a dedicated person who handles social media and the Web. To encourage direct bookings, we promote a special offer on the website that includes breakfast and access to the Spa Mosaïc.”
Before working for Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Chiaruttini was responsible for the successful rebranding of the Hotel Majestic Barcelona into a luxury five-star destination. As the director of sales at the Majestic Hotel Group from 2003 to 2009, he oversaw the expansion of the family-owned company, doubling its number of hotels. Prior to that, he served as the director of sales for Le Méridien in France. This experience has proved invaluable as he transforms the Hotel du Collectionneur into a sought-after Parisian destination.
Hotel du Collectionneur
Opening date: Rebranded in September 2012
Number of guestrooms: 478
Owner: Société Immobilière et Hôtelière du Parc Monceau
Management company: Self-managed under Gate Collection