'The magnificent seven' hotels see return of the super-rich

Crisis? What crisis? Judging by the flood of super-rich foreign tourists into France this summer, the recession is over, at least for some.

The top Paris hotels have long regarded themselves as a leading indicator of the financial health of the world's estimated 10 million millionaires, and in 2008, after the start of the world banking crisis, they feared the worst as occupancy slumped, with some suites standing empty for days at a time. Even the super-wealthy contented themselves with an "ordinary" room at the Ritz or George V at about €700 (£575) a night.

Bookings recovered only partially last year. But now things appear to be changing. The seven top hotels in Paris – the "magnificent seven" – have been virtually fully booked since the beginning of July at an average room rate of more than €900 a night. Much the same story is reported from the Côte d'Azur and Biarritz.

"July was exceptional. Things could hardly be better," said Didier Le Calvez, director general of the Bristol, a few steps from the Elysées Palace and the Parisian hotel of choice for Middle Eastern princes and Hollywood film stars.

On the other side of the Champs Elysées, the Hotel George V is also chock full with wealthy Russians, Brazilians, Indians and Middle Eastern minor royalty. The hotel's director, Marc-Oliver Raffray, says that all 60 suites – at prices ranging from €13,000 to €3,000 a night – have been booked for the whole summer. The five other five-star hotels in Paris – the Ritz, Crillon, Meurice, Plaza-Athénée and Fouquet's Barrière – report more than 90 per cent occupancy from all over the world.

"Now the economy seems to be booming in Brazil and Asia," said Mr Calvez at the Bristol. "We are also getting lots of American and Australian dollars. Middle Eastern clients are back. It is a special moment when all our markets are buzzing at once."

And although Middle Eastern visitors are thinning out a little, with the beginning of this year's early Ramadan religious festival, wealthy Russians, Indians and Brazilians are taking their places. At Biarritz, at the foot of France's Atlantic coast, the Hotel du Palais, dominating the main beach, is fully booked for August at an average room rent of €500 a night. Jean-Louis Leimbacher, the director general of the hotel, said that 60 per cent of his clients were foreign, the majority of them Russian.

Vanguelis Panayotis, development director at the hotel and leisure group MKG, said that the occupancy rate at top hotels in France was back to pre-crisis levels. France was benefiting, in part, from the relative weakness of the euro against the dollar and other currencies, he said, but there also seemed to be no shortage of money among the elites of Asia (other than Japan), Russia and South America.

The lower reaches of the French tourism market are also enjoying a relative boom this year, after a poor 2009. The fall in the value of the euro has brought back visitors from Britain and the United States. The Germans, Dutch and Belgians are choosing to stay close to home rather than book expensive holidays on the other side of the world. "For them nearer to home means France," said Didier Arino, director of the study group Protourisme.

There had been an increase of up to 10 per cent in European visitors to France this summer, he said. The average price of a hotel room had increased by 10 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices Simon Usborne: It's not about political correctness. It's about decency
Sport
Wojciech Szczesny watches the ball cross the line as Garath McCleary scores for Reading
football All the latest from Wembley as Gunners face Reading in semi-final
Life and Style
health
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...