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Didier Le Calvez

Le Bristol, a World of Luxury in an Oasis of Refinement


didier-le-calvezDidier Le Calvez has enjoyed an exceptional international career at some of the finest hotels in the world. He spent ten years in Asia perfecting his craft and 16 in the United States. He began his rise in the Philippines, at the Manila Hotel, then as Manager of the Plaza in New York, followed by a ten-year tenure as CEO at the Pierre up the block and then back to Asia at the Regent in Singapore. Along the way he also found himself at the Shangri La in Hong Kong before taking charge of the George V in Paris from 1999 to 2006. Under his skillful stewardship, the George V was awarded the title of “best hotel in the world” several times. So he brings to his position as CEO of Le Bristol a broad international perspective and an impressive record of success.

Karen Archer recently met with the gracious and imposing hôtelier who was pleased to speak of his and Le Bristol’s special relationship with French Heritage Society. Participants in the association’s 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Royals level will have the pleasure of staying at Le Bristol in October 2012.

CEO of Le Bristol

Located on the fashionable rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Le Bristol is truly unlike any other hotel in Paris. From international businessmen to celebrities and France’s political and cultural élite, the hotel holds a special distinction as a meeting place for the influential and powerful due to its proximity to the Elysée Palace and the Ministry of the Interior.

“My duty as the CEO of Le Bristol is to basically make sure that all renovation works take place, to make sure that the property is always very well kept, this is an hotel with 570 employees, 180 keys, 85 suites.” Not to mention its celebrated swimming pool on the 7th floor overlooking the heart of the city’s corridor of power and prestige. But Le Calvez chooses to stress another quality about Le Bristol, which “is the only family-owned palace in Paris. We have had two families owning the property for the last 90 years. A French family, the Jammets, and a German family, the Oetkers, since 1978”.

Le Bristol, officially opened in 1925 during the Roaring 20s. It is named after the Count of Bristol, a British traveler infatuated with luxury. The Jammets continued to manage the hotel and in 1975 Josephine Baker celebrated her 50th birthday at Le Bristol along with 250 guests. This proved to be the last big party of the Jammet Era. The Oetkers added the swimming pool and the French garden to the iconic property in 1979.

Le Bristol becomes a Palace

Le Calvez was proud to speak of the recent distinction of Palace which was awarded to Le Bristol. “The recognition, the distinction of ‘palace’, is quite important for us because this is done by the French Ministry. We, the Bristol, were the first to receive it through the Minister of Tourism. It is quite important for the customers from the standpoint that it recognizes a hotel that is very well maintained with a very high level of service and something that is above five-stars so it is a very good credit to the owners, to the employees, to the guests of the hotel. From the customers’ standpoint it is a guarantee that the hotel is one of the finest in France.”

Le Bristol and French Heritage Society

One of the true pleasures for French Heritage Society members traveling to France is to feel the warm hospitality of the association’s entire network, from châteaux owners, wine producers or overseers of the country’s finest hotels “We have a great collaboration with French Heritage Society. As you know, I’m from Ile-de-Ré, where we are the only island in France with a statue of George Washington. George Washington’s ancestor, a French ancestor, was born in the Ile-de-Ré. So that is really when I discovered French Heritage Society (during its 25th Anniversary Celebrations). I am very fond myself of historical buildings, again being from Ile-de-Ré we have beautiful fortifications from Vauban and, like many French people, I enjoy the beautiful patrimony we have in this country.”

Clearly content to collaborate with the association, Le Calvez displays genuine grace and enthusiasm as he adds, “so what French Heritage Society does, I think, is absolutely fantastic, great for the country and a great cooperation. It’s really wonderful to be able to participate in events together with you such as the Thanksgiving Dinner and your Anniversary Celebration. It’s very rewarding, so thank you very much.”