Industry insiders are mourning the temporary loss of the Ritz Paris, where more than 60 firefighters and 15 fire trucks spent hours battling a devastating blaze that soared through the roof. In doing so, they caused extensive water damage to the iconic interior, just weeks before its scheduled reopening in March.
The five-star grande dame, hostess to the well-heeled for a hundred years, already was accepting reservations; it has been closed for an extensive renovation since 2012.
The Ritz is owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed; Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dined here before entering the car that crashed and took their lives in 1997. For years, Valentino staged his couture shows here; Coco Chanel and Marcel Proust lived here; Ernest Hemingway checked in so frequently that they named a bar for him. Even the cellar is special; it’s home to 40,000 bottles of wine, including rare cognacs and champagnes.
“The Ritz is Paris,” says its website, and many agree.
“I am devastated,” said Dan Beschloss, director of industry relations for Valerie Wilson Travel in New York. “Paris is one of Val’s favorite cities, and we are one of the top producers for the Ritz in Paris. We were so looking forward to selling it again to our original client base, and to introducing it to a new client base.”
“I’m very sorry to see its opening delayed,” agreed Norm Payne, owner of Customer Travel Solutions in Canada. “It’s a very historic hotel with a very strong American connection—and it is one of the best in Paris, one of the best in the world.”
Pic: Jaume Meneses