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Local Matters / Architecture & Landmarks

Historical Paris Ritz reopens after 4 years of renovations

Paris Ritz

One of Paris most famous and luxurious hotels, the Ritz reopened last month after four years or renovation work and a major fire in January. Located on the Place Vendôme, the establishment is owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed.

The Parisian Ritz closed on August 1, 2012 for important works to be carried out. Its reopening, originally scheduled for December 2015, was postponed to March 2016 due to delays in the works. A major fire which occurred in mid-January extended the deadline.

The freshly restored Ritz reopened on Monday June 6, and now contains 142 rooms and suites against 159 previously. While the last of the works are carried out, the hotel will temporarily be operating just 86 rooms and suites.

The latest major renovation the establishment had undergone dated back to 1979, the year it was bought by Al Fayed. At that time the works were spread over 10 years and the hotel remained open throughout.

The palatial accommodation ranks among the most prestigious hotels in the world and is a member of the “Leading Hotels of the World” consortium, which contains 375 hotels and resorts across 75 countries.

It was founded in 1898 by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, in collaboration with chef Auguste Escoffier, and was reportedly the first in Europe to provide an en suite bathroom, a telephone and electricity in every room.

During the Second World War, the hotel was taken over by the occupying Germans and used as the local headquarters of the Luftwaffe, the German Wehrmacht’s air force at the time. In August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Al-Fayed’s son Dodi dined in the hotel’s Imperial Suite before their fatal car crash.

By virtue of its rich history and status as a symbol of high society and luxury, the hotel has featured in a number of novels and films, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night and Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon.

Famed personalities who have stayed there include Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel, Colette, Jean Cocteau, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ernest Hemingway, among others, with these great literary and cultural figures honored by the institution by suites, lounges or luxurious bars named after them. Indeed, the hotel features the “Hemingway Bar” and the “Chanel Spa.”

Considered “dusty” when it closed in 2012, the renovated hotel now boasts a summer restaurant under a mobile canopy, an expanded ballroom and the integration of the latest technologies in all its rooms and suites, noting that “we wanted to retain the spirit of the Ritz, which is so dear to our customers,” which was done by keeping and refreshing “80% of the hotel’s former furniture, chairs, sofas and even nightstands.”

The renovation was reportedly undertaken in a — successful — effort to receive the “Palatial distinction,” a title awarded by the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment only to hotels complying with an ultimate level of luxury, service and quality.

Construction cost an initial investment of 140 million euros and employed 800 builders and craftsmen from 45 different trades — including stonemasons and gold engravers, with no detail skimped on. The Ritz now employs nearly 600 employees, with 55% of the hotel’s 2012 workforce having returned.

The renovated Ritz now contains 71 rooms for €1,000 each a night and 71 suites — including 15 “prestige” suites costing up to €28,000 per night.

Photo credit: Wikimedia / Moonik

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