Dominique Loiseau was re-elected Vice-President of the Relais & Châteaux Association in 2009.
This fine association is an exclusive collection of around 500 of the finest charming hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries.
Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character.
Furthermore, Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share a passion for and a personal commitment to ensuring their guests are privy to moments of exceptional harmony, an unforgettable celebration of the senses.
From the vineyards in Napa valley to the beaches in Bali, from the olive trees in Provence to the lodges in South Africa, Relais & Châteaux offers all the stops on the finest route for discovering each special place and country.
The Relais & Châteaux signature reflects this ambition: “ALL AROUND THE WORLD, UNIQUE IN THE WORLD”.
YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX COMMUNICATIONS TASK FORCE.
WHAT IS THE IMAGE YOU SEEK TO PROJECT?
Dominique Loiseau: What is special about Relais & Châteaux is the fact that it is unique. It is not a homogenised chain, but rather a collection of the finest charming hotels and gourmet restaurants in the world. Indeed, we must be careful not to use the word ‘chain’. We do not simply offer rooms and meals – we offer whole experiences and the chance to enjoy a moment of happiness. Our properties are distinguished by their own personality and sense of place which offer an entry into their history, region, culture, terroir, cuisine and architecture. Our new slogan is: ‘All around the world, unique in the world’. We are all very different one from another, but we share the same ideals. At the same time, I try to ensure that we do not lose the association’s French spirit.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX?
Dominique Loiseau: It goes back to 1954, when an association of French innkeepers set up the first ‘Relais de campagne’, with eight properties located along the route from Paris to Nice. Then, in 1974, there was an important merger between these ‘Relais de campagne’ and Châteaux-hôtels, which created Relais & Châteaux. Today, our association has 500 properties in 60 countries, with about one third in France, a third in the rest of Europe and the final third in the rest of the world.
HOW DO YOU BECOME A MEMBER OF RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX?
Dominique Loiseau: There are obviously standards of quality and professionnalism, and then there are the famous ‘5Cs’: charm, character, cuisine, calm, courtesy. However, recently our association has tried to re-define our deep roots in terms of shared ideals. We do not want to be a homogenised chain, or offer ostentatious luxury. We see ourselves as a big family, with strong personalities and a shared passion –we offer experiences, and a certain state of mind.
WHAT ARE THESE IDEALS?
Dominique Loiseau: First of all there is the ‘soul of the innkepeper’. That’s an expression of which I am particularly fond, because Bernard always said that he was, first and foremost, an innkeeper. So every Relais & Châteaux must be run by someone who embodies the property itself. Indeed, we prefer to speak of the Maître de Maison, rather than the general manager. In my own property, I am very fortunate to have secured the loyalty of my ‘pillars’, who have been with us for between twenty and thirty years. The life of the innkeeper is intimately bound up with that of his or her property. That is why I spend most of my time in Saulieu.
Dominique Loiseau: The second very important ideal is what we call the ‘sense of place’ which is expressed through a particular kind of architecture, décor, cuisine, gardens, fine old stones, excursions into the surrounding area, etc. The third ideal is to do with the ‘celebration of the senses’ whereby everything should be in harmony and fill guests with emotions and wellbeing. That might sound a little ambitious, but we do our utmost to ensure that our guests are privy to moments of exceptional happiness. Finally, there is one last ideal relating to the ‘family spirit’ of our properties, which we are very keen to preserve despite our growth on an international level. Relais & Châteaux are properties with extremely different personalities, indeed each is unique, spread out across the globe, and they are all united by these very ideals!
Further information : www.relaischateaux.com
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