Q. Given Le Bristol Paris' long history and the emphasis Parisians put on tradition and exclusivity, how have you balanced these values with the modern traveller's need for prevalent technology and accessibility? How has Le Bristol Paris carved out a place for itself in the city when hotels such as Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental have introduced branches there?
A. Every hotel has to find its own identity. There are an increasing number of contemporary hotels in Paris now and, while I won't speak ill of the other hotels, we're one of the few classical hotels in the city, and we're doing very well. Classical décor and modern technology don't have to be mutually exclusive. We design our rooms around leisure. It is our belief that a significant percentage of people visit Paris for leisure, and while it's easy to do business in a leisure hotel, the reverse doesn't apply - you can't enjoy your honeymoon in a corporate hotel.
Q. What are you most proud of in recent years?
A. I spent the last five years and millions of euros on renovation - from the guestrooms to the public spaces of the hotel. I doubled the size of the spa reception, I created a restaurant with an overlooking garden, and I created a new bar. Most notably, we improved the layout. Before, people coming into the hotel would go directly to the restaurant without seeing much of the rest of the hotel. We've put a lot of work into the layout so that non-resident diners now see more of our hotel before they eat.
Q. What was one of your most inspired decisions?
A. I don't know if it's my most inspired, but I do like having the hotel cats around. They're beautiful, and since they've been here, they've never stepped outside the hotel, and they're well-loved by all, from the guests to the employees. The cats can make a hotel feel a lot like home. They may be dozing on the counters when you check-in, wandering around the lobby, or even perched on the bar when you have your glass of wine in the evening. It gives a sense of informality to what can be seen as a formal place.
Q. What's a trend that you've noticed in tourism and how have you addressed it?
A. People are becoming increasingly conscious of their well-being, and they are very specific and knowledgeable in their requests and concerns. We launched Villa Stephanie in January this year, the largest medical spa in Europe at 5,000 square metres, and an incredibly beautiful one. It's a complete detox and medical centre. We look at your profile in detail, and can accommodate requests such as offering a copper-lined room or one completely zinc-free, if you have that type of allergy. We also offer private exercise rooms to those who want to lose weight but are uncomfortable exercising in front of other people.
Q. As COO of Oetker Collection, what were some of the reasons behind curating those specific hotels within the collection? How has this established the collection's DNA and how has this made it stand out from other chain hotels?
A. We're getting more and more clients who demand modern authenticity … so we want every single one of our hotels to have a strong identity. We don't want to be like other chain hotels in that every branch looks the same - we want each hotel to retain a very distinct personality, that's our objective.