When the doors open on the Ritz Paris in March after a three-and-a half-year restoration, sighs of relief will be heard from discriminating travelers around the world that the grand dame of Parisian luxury hotels is back.
Those worried that the 114-year-old hotel might suffer the modernization indignations of other five-star Paris properties, Ritz general manager Christian Boyens offers au contraire.
"Most important, the Ritz will stay the Ritz . . . but behind the walls, you will find a hotel that is totally 2016," he told CultureMap during a select media lunch at Tony's.
Restoration by the numbers:
* The original 160 rooms reduced to 71 rooms and 71 suites, 15 of those one-of-a-kind Prestige Suites
* All closets and bathrooms enlarged
* 124 containers of antiques restored
* 1,200 workers on site every day to reach completion, with 550 staff now back on the payroll, 620 staff when the hotel opens
* 40,000 bottles of wine, including cognacs from the 1800s, moving back to the hotel
* Six designer stores in the hotel's luxe arcade
"It really was a passionate project," Boyens said. "A lot of passionate people were involved."
Architect designer Thierry W Despont was responsible for the restoration of the historic grand hotel with the assigned goal of preserving its opulent classicism and Empire style while growing in sync with the 21st century. Boyens describes the new rooms as "your little Parisian apartment in the heart of Paris with rich residential fabrics and fine finishes." That includes the iconic gold-plated swan fixtures in the bathrooms.
With the renovation several additions have been made, including a tunnel connecting the Place Vendome with the hotel's underground garage, offering guests complete privacy. A retractable roof has been added to the interior winter garden making it a year-round leafy green setting.
Boyens shared that as part of the project, Ritz owner billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased a bank building next door to the hotel for an expansion that includes a Chanel spa and a large garden designed like a private park.
When the hotel closed in the summer of 2012 for a then-estimated two year refurbishment, estimates were that the project would cost 200 million euros. One can only imagine the final tally.
According to the hotel website, lowest room ratees typically range from 1,100 euros ($1,110) to 2,900 euros ($3,167) a night depending on dates.