Relais and Châteaux on the Next 70 Years of Luxury Hotels

Casa Chameleon Hotels is honored to be featured in Relais & Châteaux's vision for the next 70 years of luxury hospitality shared in an interview of Relais and Châteaux president Laurent Gardinier to Globetrender Magazine!

After 70 years in operation, how is Relais and Châteaux evolving as a luxury hotel collection?

“Each of our 580 member hotels and standalone restaurants never stop evolving, meeting the new expectations of customers and reacting to new trends.

“The way we evolve is in the way we accept properties, and ask properties to leave. We have about 500 applications to join Relais and Châteaux per year. And we accept about 15 or 20. So it’s very, very selective. We have a quality control department with a lot of anonymous inspectors.”

“If everything is perfect, this is quite easy to check and to monitor but what is very difficult is to find the spirit, the mindset of the property and to assess that you need to have inspectors who are fully aligned with what it is.”

What are you looking for in a member hotel?

“I would say the DNA of Relais and Châteaux is found in properties that are connected with their community, culture, local gastronomy and history. Everything has to be aligned with where it is located. It’s also about the art of welcoming, which is totally different in a Japanese ryokan or a country house hotel in France.”


What does luxury mean to Relais and Châteaux?

“Luxury means doesn’t mean gold and marble – no, luxury means space. Luxury means connection at the highest level. Luxury can mean being a beautiful. Of course we are expensive. Of course we are a premium brand, but where luxury is is in the level of service and the level of the experience.”

“If you stay in an international high-end hotel chain, as a guest, what you’re going to expect is to have is the same standard of service wherever you are in the world because you are just relying on one brand.

“With Relais and Châteaux it is absolutely the contrary. Each of our properties is different. So the level of service, the way it’s decorated, you don’t have a single rule. It’s a different way of considering luxury.

“I feel that luxury service has, in many destinations, become less formal and a bit more personal. For me, this is the experience of what is luxury. If have a very formal service it means that you have people that are really well trained but have maybe a little difficulty to adapt.”

Who is a typical guest?

“We have about 1.5 million customers yearly and among them 50 per cent are American. France, the UK and Ireland are our other key source markets. Our top destination markets are the US and Canada, France and Italy but we have properties in 65 countries.

“Our guests often want a connection with smaller property, to be close to nature, to be travelling with friends, families, or couples. They want to discover nicely and peacefully, the local culture of the country that they are visiting.”