After a 4-year renovation and a delayed opening due to fire, the Ritz Paris has finally opened its doors once again.
It is what dreams are made of.
Paris. The most romantic city, perhaps, in the world. And it most definitely qualifies as a “Dream Vacation.”
The Paris Ritz is currently owned by Mohamed al-Fayed, an Egyptian businessman, who bought the property from the Ritz family in 1979. In 2012, he decided to shutter it for the first time, to conduct a makeover that would bring it back to its former glory. “Closing down the hotel was not an easy decision to make, but it was necessary to maintain the pre-eminent position of the Ritz Paris,” he said in an email to The New York Times.
On June 6, 2016, it reopened its door and began once again taking reservations.
Newly Re-Opened and Updated Ritz Paris Hotel
After a renovation that kept its doors shut for nearly four years, the Ritz Paris reopened June 6, 2016, a few days and 118 years after its original June 1, 1898, opening.
When the Swiss hotelier César Ritz bought the property, then the Hôtel de Lazun but originally a private palace constructed in the early 18th century that was home to several noble families, he did so with visions of opening the most luxurious hotel in the world. It should have, he is said to have declared, “all the refinement that a prince could desire in his own home.”
After a nearly $220 million renovation, the legendary hotel has reopened and is beginning the next chapter in its rich history. Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel once called the Ritz home, Sophia Loren considered it “the most romantic hotel in the world,” and the Nazis took over several floors when they occupied Paris during World War II.
The hotel was supposed to have re-opened in March but an electrical-related fire ravaged a section of the building in January, delaying the plans.
The Ritz, situated on the swanky Place Vendome, now only has 142 rooms and suites, compared to 159 previously, but not all of them will be immediately available as final touches are still taking place.
Aesthetically, the hotel still has the traditional 18th-century French décor that its guests are familiar with, but the difference now, according to the architect is that there is a lighter, fresher feel throughout.
Christian Boyens, general manager, says the plan was to “preserve the hotel’s DNA”. Each room still houses pastel hues, fine woodwork, silks, antiques and art but has been equipped with up-to-date technologies, including new heating and cooling systems.
“It needed a redo, but maintaining its essence and strong identity was essential, and my vision was to keep the Ritz exactly as it was but better,” said Thierry W. Despont, the New York-based French architect and designer.
“Many of the changes are subtle,” Mr. Despont said. “We don’t want to say ‘Look at what we did.’”
There are now 142 rooms instead of 159, the old number, and 71 are suites (because of the fire, only 90 rooms are currently available to book). The furniture in all the rooms including two of the most prized before the renovation — the Imperial Suite and the Coco Chanel Suite — is a mix of restored pieces, newly acquired antiques and replicas.
The project cost €400m (NZ$600m), well over the initial estimate of €140m (NZ$ 220m). The hotel now features the world’s first Chanel branded spa; an underground swimming pool with 800,000 mosaic tiles, and a revamp of the interior detailing that is iconic to the Ritz: delicate silks, draped curtains and gilded mirrors.
The hotel closed for refurbishment in July 2012 after it failed to win coveted ‘Palace’ status – an award for the finest of five-star hotels in France.
Bar Hemingway, author Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering hole, was named after him in 1994. In the newly renovated restaurant, his bronze bust is intact, and the new green carpet resembles the old one, but the space is now awash with freshly sourced Hemingway memorabilia like his fishing rods and original passport photos.
“The Ritz Paris reopens this month, with rooms beginning at $1,500 a night and more than $30,000 for the Imperial Suite, which is registered a national monument. The hotel will include a Chanel Spa, an Escoffier cooking school, the Salon Proust and, of course, the Bar Hemingway. In other words, it’s ritzier” (Forbes).
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