(eTN) - Europe is in the doldrums.
Spain and Britain have plunged back to recession status, and Greece is teetering on default. Walking down the Champs-ĂlysĂ©es or window shopping along Paris' elegant Faubourg St. Honore street, you could never tell that France may revert to a socialist president next week. Judging from the vast numbers of people in the streets, sitting in cafes and eating their foie gras and salad nicoise on any available table, recession was something that could never happen here. Could it be that it is shop till you drop mentality which prevails? Or is it a mix of a few wealthy Parisians and many more visitors from Asia? Particularly China, with big bucks (oops, I mean euros) to spend. On closer examination, I think the latter theory is a more accurate assessment.
Where to put all these wealthy Asian tourists? Asian hotel groups have taken up the slack and are moving in with a vengeance. Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental was one of the first to embark on a worldwide expansionist strategy, opening hotels in North America and now Europe to compliment its many successful Asian properties and offer their elite a bed in New York, London, and now Paris.
Recently Paris has seen something of a âLuxury Brand Asian invasion.â The Shangri-la Group spent millions on refurbishing an elegant townhouse on the right bank, and the Peninsula Group is to open its doors in 2013 in an historic palace on the Avenue Kleber.
Mandarin Oriental snuck in between the two and has managed to eke out a favorable place for itself on the Rue St. Honore - Paris' famed shopping street and just a few blocks from the Champs-ĂlysĂ©es.
The strategy here is in positioning Mandarin Oriental as one of the leading luxury hotel brands. With London, Milan, and other European destinations up and running, now comes the Parisian version of Mandarin Oriental.
According to General Manager, Philippe Leboeuf, the hotel is a cross between French style and Asian hospitality. Architecturally it is stunning and service is stylishly impeccable.
A recent tongue-in-cheek article on Hotel Chatter, was in awe of the hotel and stated âJust when we thought the new Mandarin Oriental Paris with its pretty rooms and its own cake shop in the lobby, couldn't get any âsuiterâ (play on the word suite) the hotel has just opened 39 new suites, including seven duplex suites located on the seventh and eight floors of the hotel. The top floor suites combined with the Royale Orientale suite can be connected to create the largest suite in Paris at 10,764 square meters.
Of course, all of these hotels have, or will have, their fine dining restaurants, but perhaps no one chef shines more than Thierry Marx and his restaurant âSur Mesureâ at the Mandarin Oriental. The renowned Michelin Guide, France's bible to haute cuisine, just recently awarded the restaurant a two-star rating, quite a feat after only after having been open six months. General Manager Philippe Leboeuf,was quite naturally pleased and said, âI am delighted to celebrate this fantastic culinary award with Thierry Marx and his team. Thierry Marx possesses great humility, energy, and style.â
Looking into the future, as close as next week, the final round in the French presidential elections, we will have a better picture of whether those Parisian rooms will only be full of Asians and the cafĂ© tables will have less people speaking French while sipping a glass of rose wine. A bientot (soon).