Updated: 2011-03-26 08:47
By Sun Li (China Daily)
Most of the suites in Shangri-La Paris offer unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine. Provided to China Daily
Hotel profile | Paris
Shangri-La Paris is a high-profile addition to the French capital's luxury hotel scene. Sun Li reports
It is not easy for a hotel brand to stand out in Paris' large and fabulous cluster of five-star establishments.
But with its rich history, an exceptional location and legendary hospitality, Shangri-La Hotel Paris has made itself a high-profile addition to the French capital's luxury hotel scene.
Opened at the end of 2010, the property also marks the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts debut in the European market.
"Shangri-La Paris is a historic place," says Alain Borgers, its general manager.
The hotel is housed in the 1896 home of Prince Roland Bonaparte - Napoleon Bonaparte's grandnephew.
According to Borgers, the landmark building was painstakingly renovated over four years.
"To restore a 19th-century building to its erstwhile splendor, original wood floors were individually numbered, removed slat by slat, refurbished, and reassembled one by one," Borgers says.
The meticulous efforts paid off when a magnificent glass-and-steel structure embedded in the rooftop of a conference room was discovered, and exquisitely carved battle arms and military trophies were found in the arches above some of the doors.
In addition to the hotel's heritage, what is equally impressive is its location.
Nestled in the elegant 16th Arrondissement of Paris, a premier residential district, the hotel is located in an area that boasts one of the highest concentrations of museums in Europe. Guests can enjoy the treasures of renowned art centers, such as the Palais Galliera, the Guimet Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, all within walking distance.
The hotel offers 81 rooms, including 27 suites. South-facing and bathed in natural light, 40 percent of the rooms and 60 percent of the suites offer unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, and nearly half come with balconies or terraces.
"In Shangri-La's Parisian residence, what we want to bring to guests is a chance to experience French art de vivre," Borgers says. "As Paris is one of the world's capitals of fashion and art, most of our customers are people who travel purely for leisure and pleasure, rather than for business.
"To ensure their leisure and pleasure, we rely on our high-end service. Our hearty hospitality is Shangri-la's consistent trait enabling us to outstrip other hotels," he adds.
At Shangri-La Paris, guests can enjoy personal round-the-clock butlery service. Also, its efficient concierge service means after-hours boutique shopping or even a private visit to Louis Vuitton Museum can be arranged on short notice.
Guests can pamper themselves not only in a luxurious 16-by-5-meter swimming pool, located in the prince's former imperial stables, but also enjoy European-style massages in the privacy of their rooms and suites.
"Basically, we're ready to do everything a guest expects or asks," Borgers says.
In keeping with the Shangri-la tradition, a subtle touch of Asia can be seen everywhere in the hotel.
Two Ming Dynasty-inspired vases flank the entrance. Almost every room and suite is decorated in shades of blue, white and ecru. And most staff members are clad in mandarin-collar shirts or the very Chinese qi pao.
They have been hired from the Chinese mainland and are fluent in Mandarin, English and French, with some even comfortable in Japanese, Thai and Korean.
Asian influences are also evident in the dining options. The airy La Bauhinia restaurant serves both French and Southeast Asian fare, while the Michelin one-star Shang Palace, or Summer Palace, Shangri-La's signature Cantonese restaurant, focuses on authentic Cantonese food served in an elegant setting.
"At the moment, Chinese customers only account for about 5 percent of the market, but we are not worried about it," Borgers says.
With more Asian tourists, especially Chinese, traveling to Europe, "I'm confident that in a year from now, this figure would have drastically increased", he says.
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