In the luxury hotel industry in France, only a few five-star hotels can aspire to the Palace distinction, a guarantee of unparalleled quality of service. We explain how some establishments were able to obtain the precious Sesam.
The “5 star” category and the Palace distinction did not exist until the law of July 22, 2009, when a reform of hotel classification was implemented. This reform focused on two main themes: the modernization of classification criteria and the overhaul of the procedure for obtaining the “new stars”.
Five-star hotels were created as a result of this reform, and are the flagship of the French hotel industry. However, among the five-star hotels, a handful must be distinguished for their exceptional characteristics. This is why the Palace distinction was created as part of this reform.
“The palace distinction should enable these establishments to be recognized on the international scene in the face of an increasingly large number of competitors. More generally, it should contribute to the influence of French culture and the attractiveness of France as a destination,” explains Atout France, the French tourism development agency responsible for classifying tourist hotels.
What are the criteria for a five-star hotel to be awarded the Palace distinction?
First of all, the Palace distinction is exclusively reserved for five-star hotels offering the highest levels of service to their clients.
It is awarded to a hotel for a period of five years, and for this, two phases are necessary: a first phase of instruction and a second phase of analysis by a commission.
The first phase is based on objective eligibility criteria derived from the five-star classification, such as the existence of a fitness center, a spa, a multilingual team, a concierge service, and many others, which become mandatory. However, meeting all of these criteria is not enough to be accepted.
In addition to these hundreds of objective criteria, there are more subjective criteria that will be observed by a commission composed of qualified personalities during the second phase of analysis: location, aesthetics, history of the premises, the personality of the establishment, the involvement of the teams in the search for excellence, the gastronomic restaurant, the policy of respect for the environment…
And for good reason, the history of the establishment plays an essential role in the decision of the jury, which believes that a Palace must have its share of myth in the collective unconscious.
Today, among the 300 five-star hotels, only 31 have the Palace distinction in France, including thirteen Parisian Palaces, six in the Alps, nine on the French Riviera, three in the southwest and one in the Caribbean.
The Cheval Blanc (Courchevel), the Four Seasons Hotel George V (Paris), the Château de la Messardière (Saint Tropez) and the Hôtel du Palais (Biarritz) are among those that contribute to the international reputation of tourism in France.
Featured photo: © Le Meurice
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