Japanese wake up to French private hotel group

10th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 10 (AFP) - Buoyed by an unexpected success in Japan, a French voluntary group of hotels offering a taste of Gallic charm is hoping to lure more Japanese tourists with specialised guides and a Japanese website.

PARIS, Feb 10 (AFP) - Buoyed by an unexpected success in Japan, a French voluntary group of hotels offering a taste of Gallic charm is hoping to lure more Japanese tourists with specialised guides and a Japanese website.

Chateaux and Hotels de France groups more than 500 private establishments ranging from simple farmhouses, to private castles and mansions, and top-of-the-range luxury hotels in Paris graded according to their level of comfort.

Owned by the Groupe Alain Ducasse, Chateaux and Hotels last year teamed up with Japan's Third Age Style, to promote its members among the Japanese and says that in just 12 months business has rocketed.

Now 20 percent of the business which is booked via agencies comes from Japan, representing roughly 480 reservations, most staying more than four nights and paying between EUR 200 to 300 (USD 260-390) for a room.

"It was the big surprise for us," said Xavier Labrousse, managing director of Chateaux and Hotels.

The group, which is just about to bring out its 2005 guide, will now publish two guides a year in Japanese to go on sale at newspaper kiosks to capitalise on the interest.

Each guide will focus on three regions in France, providing a selection of Chateaux and Hotels members plus information on what's on offer for sight-seers, including local architecture, handicrafts and produce.

In 2004, the group registered a turnover of EUR 600 million (USD 780 million), with 50 percent of reservations now made via the Internet after it invested heavily in updating its website and online services. Thirty percent of business came via travel agencies.

But Labrousse said the group had to stay on its toes.

"We are beginning to look at the Russian market, because we would be stupid not to. And we are watching what is happening in the Chinese market, but to be honest we remain above all a European group."

Virtually all the 523 establishments featured in the 2005 guide are in France, with honourable mentions for two hotels in Belgium, one in Luxembourg and two in Switzerland.

But the Groupe Alain Ducasse, headed by France's top chef of the same name, is no stranger to Japan.

In December it opened a restaurant in Tokyo, "Beige" installed within the Chanel building in the Japanese capital, which now has a two-month waiting list for its traditional French cuisine with a contemporary Ducasse twist.

Now another restaurant is planned for Tokyo and will open within the coming months. But its concept remains, for the time being, under wraps.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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