I cover UHNWIs, celebrities, luxury travel, technology, and lifestyle.
How One Monaco Hotel Is Experiencing a Surge in American Guests.
THERE’S SPENDING POWER and then there’s Monaco, where, according to Wealth-X, one out of 56 people has assets totaling at least $30 million.
The attitude here is luxury, but not merely the kind you drive or wear.
In Deloitte’s 2017 survey on the Global Powers of Luxury Goods, the annual report focused on engaging with the new luxury consumer “to move the conversation on from price and status, to a deeper connection focused on experiences and the feelings that luxury products can evoke in their purchasers.”
Luc Pettavino, former CEO and shareholder of the Monaco Yacht Show and founder of Only Watch, clearly understands the value of experiential luxury. Last year at the 7th edition of his biennial charity auction of unique timepieces in Geneva, experiences were added to several of the lots. As an example, the TAG Heuer Luxury Kit “Only Watch” Special Edition included lunch for up to four people with TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver.
For your eyes only: Unrivaled views of the Casino can be found from the Metropole’s $10,000-a-night penthouse.
Pettavino, who lives in Monaco, tells me that watches coupled with experiences allowed Only Watch to broaden its international audience by including a layer of “lifestyle” contributors to the charity auction, in addition to watch collectors or the usual sponsors.
“We wanted to offer a moment that stays with you long after you’ve returned home,” he explains, “like spending time with Usain Bolt, enjoying a Formula One weekend with a racing team, attending a Chanel fashion show as a VIP or privatizing the Hermès rooftop of their flagship store in Paris for a romantic dinner.”
Combining “a beautiful object with a beautiful moment” was a hit. The 50 lots at Christie’s Only Watch auction last November raised $10,822,580 (CHF 10,776,500) for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
High-end hotels are equally trying to redefine the customer experience within the luxury market, a market Deloitte declared “bounced back from economic uncertainty and geopolitical crises, edging closer to annual sales of US $1 trillion at the end of 2017.”
The Metropole’s coveted piece of land just steps from Casino Square was once owned by Pope Leo XIII before being acquired in 1886 by the Monte-Carlo Hotel Company Ltd. and turned into a hotel three years later that would welcome an elite clientele. In fact, The House of Mirth, written in 1905 by American novelist and playwrightEdith Wharton, was partially set in Monte Carlo, and its reference to the Garden of Eden is believed to be the hotel’s landscaped gardens still found today.
During the 1980s, Lebanese developer Nabil Boustany bought and restored the property, renaming it Metropole Palace.
In the fall of 2003, the hotel was once again renovated, this time under the direction of French designer Jacques Garcia (La Reserve, Paris; NoMad, New York; L’Oscar, London), who transformed it into 126 rooms and 64 suites designed in an opulent Mediterranean-style. The new five-star establishment re-opened in the summer of 2004 as Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo.
Today the luxury establishment provides three restaurants: the two-Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo; the Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Yoshi; and Odyssey, next to the Karl Lagerfeld designed pool space portraying Ulysses’ journey.
One trend top hotels are pursuing is an in-room cocktail service, which, as reported by Bloomberg, “means dispatching a bartender for in-person service; at other times, it’s about making a room’s minibar feel more like a home bar.” At the Darcy Washington DC, a cocktail butler “will spend 30 minutes customizing the property’s signature drinks in your room” ($17 per drink, plus a 50% service charge).
The Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, owned by brothers Fadi and Majid Boustany, adds a personalized spin on the luxury experience, from decorating a suite with family photos prior to check in to laying fresh grass on the 110-square-meter terrace of the penthouse Carré d’Or Suite to accommodate a guest’s beloved pooch.
THE SECRET TO ELEGANCE
“The secret to elegance is being yourself,” reflected Hubert de Givenchy. And apparently there’s no better place to be you than at the Metropole’s Spa by Givenchy.
The Global Wellness Institute valued the international spa market at $98.6 billion in 2015, an increase of $2.6 billion from 2013. This makes the announcement of Spa by Givenchy winning Monaco’s Best Hotel Spa 2018 by World Spa Award even more impressive, considering it opened its doors in April 2017. There are only three Spa by Givenchy—in Morocco, Switzerland and Monaco, where the “Signature” Metropole Treatment by Givenchy, a 90-minute bespoke face and body ritual, will set you back $350/€300.
A favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow is the spa’s Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez, which offers a 90-minute Ultimate Pedicure Monte Carlo ($290/€250).
Unsurprisingly, Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2018 voted the five-star hotel Top Hotel in France and Monaco.
“We are extremely proud for the recognition of over 429,000 Condé Nast Traveller readers,” Serge Ethuin, the hotel’s General Manager since 2015, shares with me. “My team and I do everything possible to ensure that our guests leave with unforgettable memories.”
Americans make up 15% of the Hotel Metropole’s annual guests, a higher frequentation than other hotels in Monaco. This can be put down, in part, to a recent campaign in the U.S. to build the hotel’s brand, as well as the service and attitude of the staff “who strive on a daily basis to anticipate and exceed our guests’ expectations unnoticeably.”
Ethuin, who spent 30 years with the Hilton Group, is clear: “A luxury hotel does not sell a product, but provides wonderful and emotional experiences.”
For the Metropole Monte- Carlo this includes “Just for You,” a range of one-on-one experiences, from a Michelin- star Chef Academy to a Sleigh Ride Adventure in the Alps. However, hands down in the Only Possible in Monaco category is the $12,500 Golden Eye Experience, a tribute to the 1995 James Bond film shot partly in the Principality.
Arrive by helicopter for a private tour of the Casino, drive along the French Riviera in an Aston Martin and finish the afternoon with in-room couples massages—and martinis “shaken, not stirred” at the bar. Throw on a tux and a designer gown (provided) for a candlelit Michelin-star dinner on the terrace of the Carré d’Or penthouse, and gaze out at the Casino, where you’ll later hit the gaming tables. A butler is at your service, providing a cigar and gaming chips at the end of dinner. Whatever time you stumble back to the hotel, champagne and rose petals will be awaiting in your room.
No wonder in Monaco You Only Live Twice.
Nancy Heslin Editor
Nancy (Wilson) Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.