[INTERVIEW] Vincent Billiard: Hôtel de Crillon, bringing the art of entertaining to a luxury hotel

Vincent Billiard, General Manager of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, was one of the guest speakers at the “L’Art de Recevoir” evening organized by LUXUS PLUS. During a press conference, Vincent Billiard spoke about his vocation, his vision of the art of hospitality, and his role at the helm of one of the most beautiful palaces in Paris.


A graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Vincent Billiard joined the Ritz-Carlton group in 2003. For 15 years, he progressed within the group through various positions in the United States, the Cayman Islands, Tokyo, and Osaka. In 2013, he notably made history by becoming the youngest general manager ever appointed, at the age of 32. His return to Paris marks a new chapter in his career as he joins the Rosewood group as General Manager of the Hôtel de Crillon in January 2020. Under his leadership, the prestigious Parisian palace expanded its offerings and emphasized the art of French living, joining the selection of the “World’s 50 Best Hotels” in 2023.


LUXUS PLUS: What was the trigger for your vocation in the world of hospitality?

Vincent Billiard: When I was young, my father worked in the tourism sector. Often traveling, he would take me along and show me what his work entailed. I realized that a job like his combined a commercial aspect with a relational part, as well as another dedicated to management – all in beautiful environments. My passion for hotels also began thanks to him and the opportunity he gave me to travel to magnificent establishments. Then one day, around the age of 8, I told my family, “I want to be the general manager of one of the world’s most beautiful palaces.” Today, I am fortunate to lead the Hôtel de Crillon.


L+: How would you describe the art of hospitality in a palace like the Hôtel de Crillon today?

VB: To me, the art of hospitality is primarily based on relationships and how we take care of our employees. In the Rosewood group, we have a philosophy called “The Calling.” If our employees do this job, it is out of a vocation to welcome and take good care of the people who visit us, making them feel at home, or even better. For this reason, I make a point of meeting every potential employee and can tell in a few minutes if they have the passion that will make the hotel shine.


L+: What are the themes of your discussions with them?

VB: I make it clear that we hire them for their talents, not necessarily for their experience, but for their ability to take care of people. I then explain that our philosophy is primarily based on respecting French traditions and culture. At the Hôtel de Crillon, we ask them to bring the hotel to life, to introduce guests to the essence of the place, and to give them an experience that resonates with our heritage.


L+: The Crillon is a symbol of the French art of living. How do you bring it to life and embody it?

VB: I try above all to convey the heritage that characterizes this iconic establishment. When a guest arrives for check-in, they do not stand at a reception counter but sit at a desk, which adds a warmer touch. Then, a butler welcomes the guest, and one of the first things we show is the deed of sale of the hotel signed by Louis XV when he transferred the building to the Crillon family. We then immerse the guest in an experience: crossing the small corridor, they arrive at the Ambassador’s bar, a unique and mythical place that reflects all the craftsmanship and French history. We continue to the winter garden where there is a fresco with a quote from King Henry IV, taken from a conversation with the Crillon family. A little further on is the Marie-Antoinette salon, where the queen herself took piano lessons. These historical moments, we try to bring them to life for guests from around the world to experience something similar. And suddenly, a connection is established between the employee, the guest, the history, and the French heritage.


L+: Although a majority of your clientele is foreign, you make a point of ensuring that the dining area is also frequented by Parisians. What specific measures do you take to make local clientele feel at ease?

VB: Indeed, our restaurants and spa are designed to welcome local customers. We recently developed a restaurant concept with Paul Pairet, called Nonos, which presents itself as a very affordable and accessible brasserie with a good price-quality ratio. Our strategy is therefore to offer reasonable prices, moving away from palace codes, with a “cool” chef who provides a relaxed image of the luxury hotel.


L+: How do you engage your teams in the long run, on the art of hospitality and this diversity of clients?

VB: The first thing is to make them interested in the history of the place where they work. But for me, the core of their training lies in empowerment. This means giving our employees a sense of responsibility, allowing them to make decisions without necessarily referring to their manager. I encourage my teams to take risks to find the small detail that will please the guests and make their stay memorable and above all personalized.


L+: The Hôtel de Crillon is located on the Place de la Concorde, which will be a landmark throughout the Olympic Games. Will this lead to specific actions for your clientele?

VB: Place de la Concorde will indeed be an Olympic site, which will make things a bit more complicated than usual. Many of our clients come for the Olympic Games, and given the significant attendance expected at the hotel during this period, we will first ensure that everything is done properly. Our teams will be fully mobilized to facilitate the movement of our clientele. Secondly, we have just launched since June 18th, a partnership with a company called THE SKATEROOM for an exhibition around skateboarding, featuring very well-known artists whose works we will display throughout our establishment.



Featured Image: © Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel

Picture of Charline Point
Charline Point
Passionate about art in all its forms, Charline Point is a young journalist driven by fierce curiosity and a keen appetite for culture. After several years in press relations, Charline decided to take up a career in journalism. Her favorite subjects are travel, gastronomy, cinema and fashion.

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