French luxury is solid, reassuring, inspiring
With great experience in the high-end hotel industry, Pierre-Louis Renou is an expert and a recognized leader in the world luxury hospitality industry.
Since November 2020, he has been appointed Managing Director of the Fairmont Monte Carlo and Regional Vice President of Accor luxury hotels in Spain, Portugal and Italy.
A reflection of the elegance and refinement that have made the Principality of Monaco the meeting point of the international elite, the Fairmont Monte Carlo is for real set on pilotis and offers the wide vision of the Mediterranean sea with 596 rooms and suites. It features a range of exceptional amenities and services: 4 restaurants and bars with the famous Nobu restaurant, the Horizon Rooftop and its Mediterranean cuisine, the trendy Nikki Beach club and the classics from French tradition at Saphir bistro lounge & bar .
Before joining the Fairmont Monte Carlo, Pierre-Louis Renou developed extensive experience in hotel’s leader brands as Concorde Hotels, Hilton, Sofitel and the Barrière Group, in Europe and North America. In 2013, he was appointed General Manager of the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic & the Gray d'Albion in Cannes, and supervised the opening of the Carl Gustaf in Saint-Barthélemy. Graduated from the Glion Institute in Switzerland, he also completed a leadership program at Harvard Business School in 2012.
In June 2021, the Fairmont Monte Carlo asked for Bureau d'Image expertise. For a week, the Image Bureau trainers developed managers in grooming management as well as individual image modules for all teams. At the end of all the training sessions, each employee received Trousseau d'Image, a grooming kit, the first professional and high-end kit to care for and perfect their individuall image at work.
Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Pierre-Louis Renou: In my opinion, luxury is characterized by freedom. Freedom gives us the power of choosing the right time, the right place, the right product to create and guarantee the exceptional.
BI: Does French luxury exist and What would be its characteristics?
PLR: Without being too chauvinistic, there is no doubt French luxury exists. It comes from a long tradition inherited from French aristocracy and its palaces, which have inspired a lot from architecture, gastronomy, oenology, perfumes, fashion... Nowadays, French luxury is far more subtle, a mix between tradition and contemporaneity fueled by diversity. French luxury is solid, reassuring and inspiring. It runs many people around the world.
BI: What have been the major developments in the luxury hotel industry in the past decades? What will the luxury hotel industry of the future look like?
PLR: The most tangible evolution is the mix: the combination of know-how and brands. In the hotel industry, we assume that we are not necessarily good at or experts in all fields but we know how to partner with best. That’s true for gastronomy, at least, but also for everything related to well-being, design, fashion, etc.
In the coming years, and already by now, hotel industry will be back with less standardized actions and more natural emotions. To understand the our guest’s needs, we need emotional intelligence. Our customers are looking for truth, authenticity and social bond. The venues have to be connected with the local vibe and history of the destination. Staffing should be local as well.
BI: How do luxury hotels stand out?
PLR: By being consistent with the brand promise. Marketing strategies are constantly evolving and improving, but it is a risk for high-end hotels to jeopardize their DNA. Brands could evolve very quickly but must balance heritage and contemporaneity need as they have a responsibility to perpetuate tradition.
BI : How would you describe a successful customer experience in a shop, in a hotel or while traveling? What are the key factors to delight and retain customers?
PLR: A successful experience is all about an emotion and not a transaction. The X factor is to create the bond, and the feeling of being recognized associated.. My shoemaker, for example, knows my foot but he also knows my head, my heart and therefore my wallet. When a bond is created, the client becomes loyal.
BI: Are you observing a sociological shift in the luxury clientele?
PLR: Now our guests travel low-cost and book a suite in a Palace! The same clientele can alternate an easy going pizzeria or a fine dining during the same trip. Luxury customers do not only consume luxury. Now, we can touch luxury experiences specifically in the hotel industry with new adapted offers, such as spas, bars, teatime... It is also a way to retain locals and create an encounter with travelers.
BI: Does the luxury consumption and sophistication change you from appreciating simpler things?
PLR: Not at all, I far prefer good quality simple objects than one too sophisticated. Luxury is much more about precision than sophistication. During my career at Glion, we had a credo: "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well".
BI: What do you remember about your first stay in a luxury hotel?
PLR: My mother's joy.
BI: What is your greatest memory in a luxury hotel?
PLR: When my kids understood the privilege and uniqueness of those type of experiences.
BI: What is your biggest regret? Your worst experience?
PLR: I have no regret at the moment. For the bad ones, are places where I won’t return.
BI: What is your favorite hotel or palace?
PLR: La Mamounia, in Marrakech, is my favorite Palace for the best clay court among other beautiful things…. The Dolce Notte in Saint-Florent in Corsica, is my favorite family hotel.
BI: What is the most luxurious gift you made?
PLR: A tree.
BI: What kind of leader are you? What principles guide your professional life and what requirements does the management of a luxury hotel require?
PLR: I am at the service of my teams to offer them conditions that are conducive to their development, their motivation, the expression of their personality and the development of their know-how. On a personal level, I keep my values and act with passion on daily basis: meetings, curiosity, the search for excellence, the joy of welcoming people... I am fortunate that my career path has always led me to places where all of this can be found.
BI: What is the most important quality you require from your team?
PLR: Common sense and humility.
BI: What fault inspires you the most leniency?
PLR: The one we recognize.
BI: Why is it key to train your teams to a high standard of service?
PLR: Training is a common thread in all luxury hotels to offer the best quality of service and to ensure that each employee follows a common course. Training is a backbone: both hard, so that the hotel can keep its promises to its customers, and flexible to leave a free hand to create emotions.
BI: Do you give particular importance to the posture and interpersonal skills of employees in the luxury industry?
PLR: Posture and interpersonal skills are very important because they allow setting a course corresponding to the DNA of an hotel and its environment. However, it is necessary to find a good balance with the specific style of each collaborator.
BI: Even as General Manager, do we continue to learn a little more about luxury, its codes, and its many ways to embody it?
PLR: I hope so ! Nothing can be taken for granted in luxury as in all other sectors. I check a lot what is done elsewhere, in other cultures, in other countries, with competitors ... I also listen to my teams a lot because the strategy of a hotel does not fall from the sky, it is born from exchanges constant with his teams and his entourage.
BI: What advice could you give to young professionals?
PLR: A little elbow grease, curiosity and common sense.
BI: What do you preconize for men? Trimmed beard or clean shaven? For women: for or against red nail polish?
PLR: I have no preferences or prohibitions but I believe that the style should be in harmony with the personality of the individual but also with the history, image and location of the establishment.
BI: If luxury hotel industry were a color, what would it be?
PLR: Mediterranean blue.
BI: An animal?
PLR: The dog, for his loyalty and his flair.
BI: An adjective?
BI: An emotion?
BI: An object? An artwork?
PLR: A watch / Eugène Delacroix's painting "Liberty Leading the People".
BI: A motto?
PLR: "Only the paranoid survive"
BI: A virtue?
PLR: The respect.
BI: A historical figure?
PLR: Napoleon and his period at the Château de Malmaison.