The story behind the closure of the Hôtel Métropole

One of Monaco’s finest palaces, the Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, has closed its gilded doors. But do not fret. The luxurious hideaway has not fallen because of Covid. In fact, it will awaken even more spectacular than before. Managing Director Serge Ethuin tells us more.

When the Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo was created in 1886, it was born out of the euphoria and prosperity of the Belle Epoque era, established on land that once belonged to Pope Leo XIII.

The international elite have always been attracted to its promises of excellence, luxury, and the art of living, as well as its positioning just metres from the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.

Together with the Hôtel de Paris and the Hôtel Hermitage, the Hôtel Métropole forms an illustrious triangle of stunning palaces that are the ultimate symbols of luxury and charm.

Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo

Like its magnificent neighbours, the Hôtel Metropole has undergone a number of upgrades over the past 130 years, most significantly in 2003-2004, when the hotel blossomed into what we know and love today.

“The vision at that time was to associate the hotel with the best names in their respective fields – Joël Robuchon for the restaurant, Jacques Garcia for the design of the hotel, Karl Lagerfeld’s design of the pool area and, more recently, a spa by Givenchy,” Managing Director Serge Ethuin tells Monaco Life. “So, it was a structural transformation of the building which clearly is different to what will happen with the hotel in the next 18 months.”

On Monday 30th November, the Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo closed its doors to embark on a major renovation that has been in the pipeline for two years.

“We did not decide to close recently,” reveals Mr Ethuin. “We have, of course, decided that the current international climate is a further stimulation to anticipate what we wanted to do for 2021, 2022, and 2023.”

Managing Director Serge Ethuin

The renovation is set to take place in three stages. From now until mid-April 2021, the “back-end” of the hotel will be tackled – those crucial areas that guests never normally see but impact heavily on their experience. Most notably, the kitchens will be completely demolished and rebuilt.

“Renovation is very noisy. We decided to close the hotel because we didn’t want to affect that amazing experience that we are trying to give our guests,” says Serge Ethuin.

If all goes to schedule, the hotel will reopen in mid-April 2021 until the end of September 2021. “There will be no major changes from a customer point of view. But we decided that we should not penalise the Principality of Monaco by having one of its luxury hotels closed during what will hopefully be the high season of next year.”

“Soft” renovations will continue throughout this time, “but only things that will not disturb the customer experience,” assures the managing director.

The most significant part of the renovation comes in phase three, starting on 1st October 2021, when the hotel will be closed for another six months.

Restaurant du Métropole Monte-Carlo / B.Touillon

“During this phase, we will tackle all the bedrooms – soft and heavy refurbishments – and we will create new exceptional suites,” says Mr Ethuin enthusiastically. “We are going to re-do the gastronomic restaurant completely, we are adding an extension to the Lobby Bar, and we are going to redo the Salon Mediterraneé, which is one of our two meeting and banqueting rooms.”

Once again, if all goes to plan, a refreshed Hôtel Métropole will reopen in April 2022, just in time for the commencement of the Principality’s major events.

“We hope to surprise our new and existing customers with a totally revamped product, but one that still retains the DNA of the hotel,” says Mr Ethuin. “We want to keep the same atmosphere, the same level of service and warmth, which has been part of the Métropole’s reputation.”

The designer responsible for that undeniable warmth and atmosphere is Jacques Garcia, who is charged with outfitting some of the world’s most treasured buildings. Seventeen years after he helped to reinvent the Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, Garcia is returning to carry out this vast new project.

Suite Carré d’Or at the Hôtel Métropole / Studio Phenix

“The good news is that whoever loved Garcia’s design then, will hopefully love his next instalment, because it will retain that amazing Garcia signature,” Mr Ethuin tells Monaco Life. “This will be Jacques of the 2020s versus Jacques of the early 2000s.”

The managing director assures us that the warm, Mediterranean vibe of the hotel and its rooms will not be compromised, adding, “It is going to be surprising, fresh, new… but it will still be Garcia.”

Apart from the décor, another significant difference will be the addition of more luxury suites, reducing the number of rooms from 125 to 116.

The popular Lobby Bar will be extended, capitalising on a growing appreciation for the restaurant element of the hotel, which has seen an uptake in revenue of over 35% in recent years.

Lobby Bar

A new terrace will be added to the bar, capping off what Mr Ethuin promises will be an incredible new experience for guests. “I don’t want to give away too many details, but I can say that the bar extension is an amazing design – I have never have seen anything like this before.”

Regrettably, the hotel will be closing its spa, lobby, bar and restaurants during renovation, including the two Michelin starred Métropole Monte-Carlo, and one Michelin starred Yoshi.

“We fully understand that people will be disappointed, but our philosophy is that the Métropole is offering a global emotional experience, so we decided when we close, we will close everything, and when we reopen it will be with a global excellent experience again.”

There is one element of the hotel that will remain open however – the Met Café in the Métropole Shopping centre, which will come as welcome news to busy holiday shoppers.

Dinner Suite Carré d’Or at the Hotel Metropole © Jérémy Jakubowicz

Managing Director Serge Ethuin is also very proud of the fact that all 213 long-term staff at the Hôtel Métropole will keep their jobs during both closures, maintaining 75% of their gross salary with the support of the Monaco Government and the hotel’s holding company.

“It takes so much time to recruit talent and train them to the level we want to achieve; it would have been extremely difficult for us to furlough our staff, so I say clearly and loudly: there will be no layoffs or retirements,” says Mr Ethuin.

When the Hôtel Métropole does reawaken in April, it will hopefully be to a new world, one where vaccines have allowed travel to recommence and large events like the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters tennis tournament and the Monaco Grand Prix to go ahead.

“We believe a vaccine will restore confidence, and as soon as confidence is restored and travel restrictions are partially lifted, we strongly believe our individual customers from around the globe will be in desperate need of travel,” reflects the managing director. “We don’t expect next year to be completely normal, but if we reach 70-80% capacity of a normal year, then it will be a good reason to reopen for the high season.”

In the meantime, we bid you farewell Hôtel Métropole, and wish you good luck for your “behind-the-scenes” make-over.

This story was originally published on 2nd December 2020.

Photos provided by Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo

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