The Metropole Hotel has swung open its doors in spectacular style with a picture-perfect floral installation that immerses guests in the vibrance and beauty of spring. Monaco Life was there for a sneak peak of the lobby’s new showpiece ahead of the hotel reopening on Wednesday.
After closing for a major backhouse renovation in late 2020, the Metropole Hotel reopened its revolving doors on Wednesday with a stunning celebration of the season – a floral scene that is designed to mesmerise guests but which also, perhaps unwittingly, represents the new life that is being breathed into the 135-year-old hotel.
“We have just reopened the hotel after the first of three renovations, which took place completely in the back of house,” Managing Director Serge Ethuin told Monaco Life. “There is nothing new to show our guests who have been anxiously awaiting our reopening, so it was incredibly important that our artistic directors create something very strong, where our guests can feel part of the mood we are trying to evoke, that they become immersed in the decoration. And I think we have reached our objective.”
The display begins in the entrance hall where, below the hotel’s elegant chandelier, a flower-laden wooden window frames the lobby like a scene straight out of a Disney fairy tale.
The lobby itself is an explosion of colour, with cherry blossoms, orchids and hydrangeas delicately embracing a wooden swing upon which guests can sit and snap their perfect Instagram pic.
The story continues on the backwall, with a forest of green and pink. It is an oasis of tranquillity and is, arguably, the hotel’s finest floral installation to date.
A family passion
The display was created by Monegasque company Roni, a family business of four generations whose works are commissioned for celebrity events, luxury hotels and exclusive restaurants throughout the world.
Passion, creativity and an eye for detail have been handed down the generations to Nicolas Barelier, who serves as Artistic Director, alongside his siblings Emmanuel, Jean-Marie and Audrey.
The installation at the Metropole Hotel is a seamless blend of fresh and silk flowers, which were handmade especially for this project. Remarkably, it took just three days to complete the display.
“We are honoured to return to the Metropole Hotel,” Nicolas Barelier told Monaco Life. “They are the only ones who really let us imagine what we want, which is very important. The concept this year is clearly spring, but we want it to say: ‘Welcome to the Hotel Metropole. Take a seat, and have your picture taken.”
The extravagant display will not only be admired by hotel guests but also customers who have eagerly awaited the reopening of Michelin-starred restaurant Yoshi.
“I have guests who love Yoshi so much they have booked the restaurant three times for the next week or so,” revealed Serge Ethuin. “We are delighted, because in these first days, when our international and French customers cannot come to eat in Monegasque restaurants, we can welcome our regulars, our locals… so we are reopening almost for the family. It’s fantastic.”
In addition to the award-winning Japanese restaurant, the hotel’s bar and its terrace have also reopened, as well as room service for hotel guests. However, the French restaurant and the Odyssey restaurant surrounding the pool will remain closed because of health restrictions.
Behind closed doors
The five-month renovation has completely revamped the kitchens of the hotel, reinvigorating Chef Christophe Cussac and his team.
“People do not see what has been done in the back of house, but it is a revolution for our teams, it is so exciting,” Chef Cussac told Monaco Life, adding that guests can expect some new dishes among the tried-and-tested signature plates of the restaurant because, “our customers who come regularly will have missed our dishes.”
After securing their dream kitchens, Chef Cussac and his team are now anxiously awaiting the second phase of renovation which will reconceptualise all of the restaurants.
“We know that there are still two phases coming, especially in the restaurants and guest rooms, and I am already projecting myself there,” said the chef. “Then we will do something different, a completely different concept with the restaurant itself.”
Opening at half capacity
As one of only a handful of palaces in Monaco, the intimate Metropole Hotel should be reopening to a full list of bookings during the event-heavy month of May. However, with travel restrictions still in place and audience numbers heavily reduced, the hotel’s figures have been drastically reduced.
“We are more than 60% behind the number of bookings of the last Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, which was three years ago,” said the hotel managing director. “But we are happy because our opening is good for the destination, for the image of Monaco, and it is good for us.”
For the fast-approaching Monaco Grand Prix in late May, Mr Ethuin says the hotel is 40% booked. “We have adjusted our strategy to allow people to stay for a shorter period as opposed to the four-day minimum. So, we may be full on the Saturday and Sunday, and at least that is good news.”
The original plan was to close the hotel again in October 2021 for phase two of the renovation, the largest stage that would tackle all of the bedrooms, the creation of new exceptional suites, and the refurbishment of restaurants, the lobby bar and banqueting rooms over a period of six months.
However, because of the Covid epidemic, the strategy has changed.
“We will not close at all this year anymore,” revealed Mr Ethuin. “We are reducing the second closure as much as possible to perhaps only the month of January or February. As a result, we might have to close for a third time, but again it will be for a very short period of time with as few disruptions to our guests as possible. Our strategy is changing, but fundamentally we want to stay in business as much as possible for our local and international market.”
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