We’ve all heard about luxury hotels offering five- or six-star accommodation. No problem if you’ve got the spending power to afford the sky-high rates. Now, a certain tier of hotels exist where even having the money doesn’t guarantee you’ll be granted a stay. If you haven’t been invited or approved by hotel management, there’s no room at the inn.
They’re the preserve of the superclass – special VIPs, celebrities and royalty who move in exclusive circles and, as it turns out, stay in hotels that the rest of us cannot.
“It’s a money-can’t-buy-experience that we’re offering,” says a spokesman for Hotel du Marc, the private hotel owned by French Champagne house Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France.
“People often ask how we choose which guests get invited to stay. It’s all to do with the relationships that we establish over time between the house and specific people. It usually comes up in a conversation where we say, ‘oh, well you must come and visit us next time you’re in France at Hotel du Marc’, that’s how it works.” If you are one of the special VIPs, celebrities or heads of state invited to stay at Hotel du Marc then, according to Veuve Clicquot, “a world of dreams” awaits you.
“For our guests, the hotel becomes theirs for the evening,” the Hotel du Marc says.
“We have the library, the living room, two dining rooms – one that seats 20 people which is an epic regency-style dining room.” It’s in this lavish dining room that guests are treated to a gala dinner by the hotel’s two full-time chefs, who create seasonal and weekly menus. “Our aim is to give guests an understanding of the history of Veuve Clicquot, as well as having a tasting and gastronomical experience that’s the same level of excellence that we’re known for.”
In The Caribbean, the aptly named Paradise Ridge at St Lucia’s five-star Ladera Resort offers paradise at a high price, meaning you need an invite to stay.
“The villas are by invitation only, but the other units can be booked by the public,” says Olivier Bottois, vice-president of operations. The 32-suite resort sits on the former Rabot Estate, which was one of Soufrière’s oldest cocoa plantations.
“The two Paradise villas are assigned to celebrities or rented by the month with butler service,” Bottois says.
“All villas welcome a private jet and yachting clientele looking for luxury experiential hospitality.”
The villas are left unoccupied if notable guests aren’t staying. The resort is not concerned about fluctuating occupancy or the hit their profits might take. “Since we repositioned Ladera as an exclusive luxury resort, the overall revenue per available room has improved, resulting in a record financial year in 2014. We will beat last year in 2015,” Bottois says. “I am focused on the big picture and not concerned if occupancy fluctuates between suite categories. We are a small resort and should not approach statistics like a 500-room chain hotel. Overall revenue growth is my focus.”
It’s a similar story at Laucala Island in Fiji. Owned by the billionaire co-founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, a stay in the resort’s most exclusive private hilltop estate requires prior approval. The nightly rate is US$44,000, before tax, for a minimum of four nights.
“For us it is important who will rent it. We will do our research on whoever is interested in renting the estate because it’s such an exclusive venue and it is not a place that can accommodate everyone,” says general manager Christoph Ganster. Described as “a resort within a resort”, the private hilltop estate offers panoramic views along with 11,000 sq ft of luxury, and a private cook, chauffeur, nanny and access to a private airstrip.
“The private hilltop estate was built and designed for the island’s owner,” Ganster says. “When he’s not there he would like to share it with a few fortunate people.”
It has recently served as the paradise retreat for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Elle Macpherson.
“I have worked in some stunning properties, the leading resorts in the world,” Ganster says. “However, I have never seen somewhere like Laucala before. It’s really out of this world – impossible to describe in words.”
Located on Sentosa Island, Crockfords Tower at Resorts World Sentosa offers guests lavish furnishings and amenities, including 24- hour butler and room service, in-room wine cellars and private dining.
Bathrooms inside the hotel tower boast marble flooring, a personal steam room and a “magic TV” – a screen that doubles as a mirror when not in use.
“To cater to the CIPs [commercially important people] and VIPs that visit the resort, our rooms include Crockfords Tower, which is an allsuite by-invitation-only hotel,” says Lavinia Cheng of Resorts World Sentosa. The hotel charges nearly US$9,000 a night for its suites.
There are just a handful of invitation-only hotels throughout the world. However, with pressure to raise luxury and exclusivity levels, they could soon be on the increase.
“The model of by-invitation hotels may evolve, but it looks like it is here to stay as guests at our hotel arrive looking for an ultraexclusive and luxurious hospitality experience,” Cheng says.
“By the looks of things, this could be a model that other hotels would want to emulate.”