Signature Hotel Experience – The Ritz Paris

Hello, I’m John Burgess and I’m the manager of the leisure travel department for Preferred Travel and one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is staying in and inspecting grand hotels throughout the world.  I spent a lot of time speaking with general managers and director of sales, so that when we book a hotel, it’s a personal booking.  It’s a face to face, I know who that is and it gives us a lot of power in trying to get upgrades and additional amenities and what have you for our clients.

The one I want to talk about today is the Ritz, Paris.  Probably one of the most iconic hotels in the world.  Cesar Ritz was responsible for three hotels: The Ritz, Paris, which was opened in 1898, the Ritz, London, which opened in 1905 and the Ritz, Madrid, which opened in 1906.  Now, before I go any further, these are not to be confused with in any way by the Ritz-Carlton hotels chain that is a completely different operation.

The Ritz, Paris was actually bought by Cesar Ritz.  It had been a palace, a private palace to a number of royal families in Paris prior to becoming a hotel.  So, five years ago the Ritz closed because as in any property that age, the mechanics that operate that hotel needed to be addressed, along with the décor, the paint and the carpeting etc. etc.  So, closed five years ago and there was great trepidation in the industry when it reopened, it would never be quite the same, it would never be as grand, never as elegant, never as memorable as the old Ritz.  Well, absolutely false.

The night before it closed, we happened to be in the Hemmingway bar, iconically the most famous bar in Paris and talking to Colin who has been the head of the bar, the head bar man for over 40 years.  He has stories you wouldn’t believe.  Later that evening, certainly by chance, we happened to meet a gentleman from Florida as well who’s company was hired to photograph every room, photograph every article in each room, catalog, document and barcode every single item for storage.

The storage was in 57 cargo containers, the kind you see on cargo ships.  They were absolutely enormous that were somewhere outside of Paris in a heavily secret and heavily guarded place.

So, we went back to Paris to see the new Ritz and it was beyond belief.  We were back in the Hemmingway bar when it opened at 6 o’clock.  And I should explain that the Hemmingway bar is very small, maybe only 40 people maximum so if you’re not there at 6 o’clock you’re not getting in and once again, there was Collin.  So, we were talking with him about having met the guy who was in charge of storing everything and Collin said, “let me tell you something.” Not everything here is property of the Ritz.  Some of these artifacts are mine and I wouldn’t allow them to be stored with everything else.  They came to my home where I took care of them until the Ritz reopened.  I brought them back and put them where they belonged.  So, we walked around the bar with Colin as he pointed out every item that was his, the history behind it and what have you.

We then did an inspection of the rooms, which are absolutely magnificent.  The suites include one where the duke and duchess of Windsor.  It was their official address after he abdicated the British throne and he moved there with his wife Wallis Simpson.  They lived in the Ritz for many years.  It was also the official residence for Coco Chanel.  So, these are grand suites and the rooms are absolutely magnificent.  So after replacing all of the wiring, all of the electrical wiring for smoke detectors, security cameras, lighting, all the air conditioning, the heating, all the plumbing, everything that you can’t see behind the walls.  The hotel was then rebuilt.  The original furnishings, paintings, objects of art, china, silverware and glassware were all returned where it belonged.  Any restoration that was needed was done prior to it being put back in its original location.  The hotel itself was absolutely mind-boggling.  It is one of the grandest hotels if not the grandest in the world.

So, if you are considering a trip to Paris for a special occasion in particular, the Ritz isn’t cheap it was never meant to be, but it will be a stay that you will never forget for the rest of your life.  Ernest Hemmingway had one little quote, he wrote to a friend was, “When I dream about afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in heaven.”  Couldn’t say it better than myself.

If any of you are interested in the Ritz, any of its history or interested in booking it, feel free to call any of us at Preferred Travel at 239.261.1177 or visit our website

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