The luxury Interview of...

Philippe LEBOEUF
General Manager - Mandarin Oriental, Paris

For me attitude prevails over aptitude

General manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris since 2010, Philippe Leboeuf is also the regional vice president in charge of operations (Paris, Geneva and Marrakech). Administrator from 1999 to 2004 within The Leading Hotels of the World group, a consortium of 375 luxury hotels in 75 countries around the world, he also managed Le Crillon (1995 to 2001), Concorde Hotels & Resorts, Louvre Hotels Group and the Claridge’s in London. For this eminent professional and ambassador of the luxury hotels, the smallest detail counts. Since the pre-opening of the Palace in 2011, Bureau d’Image supports towards the Mandarin Oriental, Paris for grooming training of every collaborators, with innovation devices and custom made modules.

Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?

Philippe Leboeuf: More than ever, it is the time we grant to our clients and the way we give our emotions for them to live an amazing moment, unique. Luxury nowadays also needs to come with social and environmental responsibilities.


BI: Does French luxury exist and what would its characteristics be?

PL: The art of living like a French is always very well-known and respected. At the Mandarin Oriental, Paris, the art of receiving like a French is very important and we attach great importance to this French mark.


BI: What have been the major developments in luxury hotels in recent decades?

PL: Other than the rapid change of service, the digital innovations and new gastronomy trends, luxury hotels is conceived and built more and more around well-being, spas being a big part in high end establishments.


BI: How are luxury hotels stand out?

PL: Beyond technical aspects, like the size of the rooms, the presence of a spa and an exceptional service, the difference touches the emotional aspect which is difficult to define. Palaces are distinguished by a supplement of soul, something new, and a big capacity of living a unique experience.


BI: Which leader are you? What principles guide your professional life?

PL: My office is always open, next to the bar to be available and the closest to employees and clients. I am committed to constantly placing my team upstream of the strategy and our actions because it’s together that we are more performant and passionate. I am passion of luxury hotels et continues to learn new jobs.


BI: What requirements does the management of a luxury hotel require?

PL: It is important to be in the heart of the action to have a panoramic view. Staying in your office or only leading strategic meetings are forbidden. For a longtime, the managers of Palace came from the restauration but more and more, they come from human resources. Runing a luxury hotel need to know well the commercial, the HR, the digital job and the catering nowadays is not the same as 10 years ago…


BI: What quality do we require from teams?

PL: I do not watch the technical aspects and favor attitude from aptitude. The smile, the look and the open mind are essentials.


BI: What fault inspires you the most leniency?

PL: We are all humans and all in different situations. When we don’t meet our needs, it is important to know why to be able to fix it nest time. It is not good to make the same mistake twice. There is a mistake for which I do not compromise, however, it is when it’s about sexism. I have for ambition to be feminist. My daughter, by the way, teaches feminism. It is a subject that means a lot to me and I show that I am very protective.


BI: How important is it to train your teams to service excellence?

PL: This is a serious and capital subject. The training is the heart of our job and inside the Mandarin Oriantal’s DNA. All of our collaborators follow a full and personalize program. This is why they are joining us. You cannot progress within a Groupe if you don’t have a minimum of training. If you are n°2 and want to be general manager, there is a training module of 6 months within a special academy. Before being promoted n°2, you need to pass a 14 months program that allows you to open your expertise domains and develop a way of business to be ready to face any challenges within the hotel.


BI: Even as CEO, do we continue to learn a little more about luxury, its codes and its many ways to embody it?

PL: Absolutely because codes evolve very quickly and what is good today won’t probably be two years. We need to listen very closely to our clients because we are working with precision, in search of permanent quality.


BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?

PL: To be open minded, to work a couple of year abroad and speak many languages and to be sensitive to sustainable development.


BI: What do you recommend for men: neat beard or close shave?

PL: Today I accept the well-groomed beard, but not in any restaurant for sanitary reasons. I have reviewed all my standard for personal grooming, especially for the beard, because it was very outdated! Remind ourselves that 85% of men had a beard before the year 1912 and 1913. But to put on their gas mask, they were constraint to shave…

At the beginning of my career, I was against having a beard because it wasn’t “standard”


BI: If luxury hotels were a color, what would it be?

PL: Red, the color of China who will have a big impact on luxury in a near future.


BI: An animal?

PL: An Irish Greyhound. The dog the most solid and can run after a wolf and face him.


BI: An adjective?

PL: Beautiful.


BI: An emotion?

PL: Loving.


BI: An object ? A work of art ?

PL: Impressionism, pointillism.


BI: A motto?

PL: "Alone we go faster, together we go further."


BI: A virtue ?

PL: Patience.


BI: A historical figure ?

PL: Soeur Emmanuelle.

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