Our CEO, Charles de L’Arbre, recently traveled to Paris for the 2016 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event, for what he considers to be “the most remarkable week of travel in my 42 year career in the travel industry.” From a river cruise on the Seine, to lunch and a visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation, to dinner at Four Seasons Hotel Georges V, to a tour of the Palace of Versailles, to a perfect stay at Le Bristol, our Virtuoso partners have the best recommendations.
Upon exiting the plane, Charles and his wife, Barbara, were met by a representative of “Decouvertes” (“Discoveries” for you non French-speakers), which is one of the premier French destination management companies. They were greeted on the jetway outside of the door of the plane, and 6 minutes later, they were through a special line at Passport Control, at baggage claim, and 10 minutes later were in the back of a Mercedes being whisked in to the center of Paris. Soon enough, they were stepping in to the lobby of Le Bristol Hotel on the Faubourg St. Honore in the First Arrondissement of Paris, 2 blocks from the Presidential Palace.
The attendees of the Virtuoso Chairmen’s Event stayed either at Le Bristol, Plaza Athénée or the Four Seasons Hotel. Other hotels participated, hosting events throughout the week, including The Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, The Intercontinental Grand Hotel, and The Ritz.
There is nothing like coming back to a hotel which truly feels like home. For Charles and Barbara, that is the Bristol. “Laure and Louise at the front desk; Olivier who greets us every morning at breakfast at the Epicurean Restaurant; my friend Matthias Obresser in sales and a host of other friends who all greeted us by name as we walked in to the hotel. After a full day of work, a drive to LAX on a Friday evening, and a 12 hour flight, the delight of walking in to an environment which was familiar, warm, and the epitome of French refinement and luxury was one of indescribable joy,” shared Charles. Le Bristol is a Virtuoso property and offers Santa Barbara Travel Bureau highly preferential rates, time of booking upgrades, breakfast (85 euro per person value), as well as a special amenity.
The Virtuoso Event included a show at the Paris Opera House, where several ballets by Balanchine were performed. After the event Barbara and Charles walked over to The Ritz for a late dinner at the Hemingway Bar, which Charles tells us “is fabulous and has to be the best bar in Paris.” Before that, they had been at the Picasso Museum and met the grandson of Picasso.
A new “must” when in Paris is a visit to the new Frank Gehry building located in Greater Paris, at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, where Paris meets Neuilly-sur-Seine. The building is incredible– a feat of modern architecture composed of 12 “sails” composed of 3,600 panels of curved glass, cut to the nearest millimeter. The futuristic building is a reflection of the unique, creative and innovative project of the Louis Vuitton Fondation. The Cheval Blanc Hotel Group hosted a lovely lunch for the Virtuoso Event.
“To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing.” -Frank Gehry
One must visit the Palace of Versailles at least once in their lifetime! The Garden of Versailles is where fruits and vegetables were raised specifically to feed the king and his family. A tour from the head gardener was very informative, and the most interesting part of the garden was was how the fruit trees were espaliered.
The final day of the trip included a reception at City Hall, hosted by the Mayor of Paris and the Minister of Tourism. Dinner was hosted on a Batau Mouch or the “fly boat” which cruised up the Seine. After dinner, the group received a “salute” of flashing lights from the Eiffel Tower as they passed. With Virtuoso, they know who to call.
Santa Barbara Travel is a member of the by-invitation-only, luxury travel network, Virtuoso – an organization of the top travel agencies, travel providers and destinations worldwide. Our membership in Virtuoso brings a host of unique travel opportunities and exclusive values to our clients as well as access to the world’s best travel companies, hotels, and cruise lines. For travelers who depend on experts to reduce complexity and ensure smart choices, your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor will design customized travel experiences using the resources and relationships available exclusively through network membership.
A frequent traveler to Paris, Charles would be happy to share his experiences. Please call or email to talk about your trip to Paris.
Charles de L’Arbre
Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
1485 East Valley Road #9
Montecito, CA 93108
Direct Dial: 805.869.1128