Luxury is when the emotion surpasses the beauty of the place
General Manager of Fauchon l'Hôtel Paris, a 5-star establishment located on Place de la Madeleine, Jérôme Montantème began his brilliant career in the restaurant business after a BTS in hotel management and a specialization in tableware. "Life is a story of encounters, a human adventure, and my career illustrates this well. It led me to meet fabulous people who gave me my chance."
One of those crucial encounters was a traineeship with Alain Solivérès, Chef of the Bastide de Gordes in the Lubéron, "four crucial months for my career". An outstanding personality whom he met again a few months later as Maître d'hôtel in his 2-star restaurant - Les Elysées - in the heart of the Hôtel Vernet.
Jérôme Montantème also obtained, between the two periods and thanks to a meeting with a Burgundian senator, the opportunity to follow most of his national service as Maître d'hôtel to François Léotard, then Minister of Defence.
In 1999, at only 28 years of age, he met Pier Silly, General Manager of the Royal Monceau, who entrusted him with the management of the Palace's starred restaurant (Le Jardin).
This led to a rich and varied series of adventures and experiences, including the opening of the Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice as Catering Director (2003) and - more recently - the general management of the Tiara Yaktsa & Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa in Théoule-sur-Mer.
His arrival at the head of Fauchon l'Hôtel Paris, in 2017, allows him to combine his experiences with the ambition "to combine hotel excellence with French gastronomy" thanks to his last big meeting with Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, CEO of Fauchon Hospitality. "We are the first to open a luxury gourmet hotel that is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and despite all the ups and downs since the opening of the establishment (Yellow Vests, Strikes, Covid-19), we have not stopped thinking intensely - with enthusiasm - about our next reopening in order to re-enchant our customers once again, with the guarantee of optimal health and safety, with the full commitment of our staff".
Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Jérôme Montantème: Luxury is when the emotion exceeds the beauty of the place. Human values sublimate this emotion that we share with our clients as soon as they walk through the door of our establishments. Women and men are creators of emotion and bring an extra touch of soul to luxury hotels and restaurants.
BI: Does French luxury exist and what would its characteristics be?
JM: French luxury is the right gesture, the right word, and the right tone, at the right time, in the right place. It is not an ostentatious luxury but a seduction operation with a sincere listening and a particular attention to arouse surprise. French-style luxury is above all about pleasing people. It means being able to ask the right questions to charm and delight the client.
BI: How are luxury hotels stand out?
JM: What makes the difference is their ability to offer clients personalised and tailor-made support from the moment they are welcomed, throughout their stay, and right up until their departure. Despite technological advances and the digital age, the luxury hotel industry relies on human values and the ability of women and men to make people vibrate.
BI: Which leader are you? What principles guide your professional life?
JM: I strive to involve my employees and the artisans of Fauchon in the challenges and success of our establishment. I establish team spirit as an essential principle for our daily success. We all work with passion, commitment, and vigilance at all times. It is therefore essential for me not to let down any of our employees who do a job that is both beautiful and difficult.
BI: What requirements does the management of a luxury hotel require?
JM: My job is my raison d'être and I consider my work as important as my personal life. I lead these two aspects of my life with the same conviction and the same desire to succeed. I'm an all-rounder, passionate, to see my commitments and missions through to the end because I feel I'm spoiled by life.
BI: What quality do we require from teams?
JM: Passion. It is what makes us all advance in this noble profession.
BI: What fault inspires you the most leniency?
JM: The beginner's mistake without which no one would learn. My friend Erik Perey, the founder of E.comme, recently said to me on this subject: "Maybe think about giving only your collaborators the possibility or the right to succeed!" (laughs)
BI: How important is it to train your teams to service excellence?
JM: It is essential to train all teams to create emotions that can mask a service error. In fact, I will always value a service with a small error and a lot of emotion rather than a perfect service without emotion.
BI: Even as CEO, do we continue to learn a little more about luxury, its codes and its many ways to embody it?
JM: Every day is different because each client has his own approach and vision of luxury.
BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?
JM: Be committed and persevere. Never set yourself any limit in what you can offer and give to a client. And above all, love what you do and do what you love.
BI: What do you recommend for men: neat beard or close shave?
JM: Beard cared for in normal circumstances. But a close shave in these times of health crisis!
BI: For women: for or against red polish?
JM: It may depend on the position held by our employees. But if not, yes for the Rose Fauchon! (laughs)
BI: If luxury hotels were a color, what would it be?
JM: Rose Fauchon.
BI: An animal?
JM: An Irish cocker spaniel, which can be just as sweet as milk soup. Like me... (laughs)
BI: An adjective?
BI: An emotion?
JM: Pleasure and surprise.
BI: An object? / A work of art?
JM: A Hermes bag and a Roman statue.
BI: A motto?
JM: "The beautiful gesture is the one that is so absolutely right, so precise, so perfect, that one thinks it's easy, forgetting the amount of practice, knowledge and intuition of which it is the sign." Motto borrowed from Vanessa Gault, Clinical Psychologist and Sophrologist.
BI: A virtue?
BI: A historical figure?
JM: Princess Lady Di. The sublime of elegance and an immense personality who has always known how to defend her convictions sometimes taking the opposite side of the established order.