PARIS -- In a city packed with four- and five-star properties, it's
difficult for a luxury hotel to stand out based on perks and
So the Hotel Crillon here -- while investing $21 million in
infrastructure upgrades and guest-room renovations -- also is
devising unusual guest programs and packages to lure more high-end
"We've noticed that most of our customers on the high end have
all the material comforts at home -- marble baths, gold fixtures --
and what's considered 'luxury' more and more is the human-relations
aspect of travel," said Philippe Krenzer, general manager at the
Crillon, a Concorde Hotels property.
"Travel to Paris is supposed to be nice, but we want our guests
to say 'Wow, this is really great,' when they start to interact
with Parisian people."
To that end, the hotel hired a four-person guest-relations
staff, known as the "Crillon Angels"; instituted new pet-stay and
child-care programs, and became the new home to L'Ecole des Fleurs,
the famed Parisian floral-arrange-ment academy.
"This is about addressing what the guest needs and providing
those with kids and pets what they need to really enjoy their
stays," said Krenzer. "We're reinventing the hotel by really
listening to our clients."
Angels, pets, kids
At the Crillon, traditional concierges handle restaurant and
theater reservations, while the team of "angels" works to plan
Paris stays to perfection.
"They sit down over a cup of coffee with guests to determine
what they want to do," said Krenzer. "Then they can personally take
you to, say, the Cartier shop around the corner to meet the
Meanwhile, with the pet-stay program, guests "don't have to hide
their dogs, as is the case at many hotels," he said.
Instead, pets -- which stay free -- get souvenir collars and
name tags, dog-specific menus and welcome mats and place cards in
their owners' rooms.
The hotel also is making an effort to project a more
"There's a preconceived idea that the Crillon's not for kids,
but we want to tell parents they can bring their children and, once
they're here, we'll help entertain them," said Krenzer.
To back that claim, the Crillon provides special bath products,
gifts and beds for children and infants, and arranges on-site and
citywide activities for its tiniest guests.
The on-site L'Ecole des Fleurs in January began offering 24
flower-arranging courses, for groups of up to 10 students.
Guests can choose from 90-minute "Discovery" classes led by
apprentices (priced at about $107) or two-hour "Master" classes
($267 to $321) taught by six leading florists, including Christian
Tortu, the renowned Parisian floral stylist and artistic director
of the school.
"It's a great way to get to do something lasting that you can
bring back home," Tortu said.
The hotel created a package that includes one night in a deluxe
room, breakfast for two, taxes and fees, and a one-hour
flower-arranging class, for about $674, double; additional nights,
with breakfast, cost $641 each.
The same plan is available with junior suite accommodations for
about $995, double; extra nights run around $962 each.
Room to grow
The Hotel Crillon -- a member of the Leading Hotels of the World
and the Virtuoso consortium -- is updating its aging physical
plant, as well.
Guest-room renovations that began two years ago soon will wrap
up, with the final 75 rooms completed by May.
The hotel is modernizing all plumbing and electrical systems in
its 245-year-old structure and lending a lighter touch to its
trademark 18th century decor.
New room innovations include seven-foot beds in half the 147
All the effort adds up to a drive to increase bookings this year
in an uncertain travel climate; although business reservations from
the U.S. are fine, leisure is slow, said Krenzer.
"January and February were better than expected, better than in
2002," he added. "But for March and April, we're suffering from
That's a problem, as U.S. visitors account for up to 40% of the
Crillon's leisure clientele.
The Hotel Crillon, which pays travel agents 10% commission,
hopes retailers can help.
"Agents are critical to us," said Krenzer. "We try to maintain
good relations with all agents because in the leisure segment,
we're totally reliant on them."
For more information, call (800) 888-4747 or visit www.crillon.com.