Celebrated architect, Jean-Michel Gathy, shares his vision of the future of luxury hotels

In your opinion, what does the future hold for luxury hotels?

There are many definitions of luxury, though I would define luxury as “exclusiveness”. So, I think that in the years to come, luxury will be more and more finely tuned. Guests appreciate staying in hotels that stand out for offering a special identity to which they can relate. This can be the place where they are located, or the theme around which they evolve (an art form, a type of cuisine, a sport, a special kind of environment etc.). The most notable luxury hotels tend to offer these defining features.

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How do luxury hotels reinvent themselves?

People used to luxury have extremely specific expectations with regard to their free time. Luxury involves not only meeting the desires of one’s guests, but also paying very close attention to the tiniest details, even those that seem the least significant. It also means rousing emotions. To reinvent themselves, luxury hotels need to compose a score which can be likened to evolutions in the art of living. They must reflect their clients’ preferences, incorporate them, and then go even further by adjusting their own operations.

How should a luxury hotel adapt in order to attract and keep its clientele?

A hotel’s signature can attract and make loyal those clients who will identify with it. Each Maison Airelles has its own tale to tell, something which really appeals to guests. In Gordes, it is Provence in a 2CV, in Versailles, it’s the glamour of Marie-Antoinette! In this sense, I feel that the vision of luxury hotels conveyed by Airelles is totally valid: simplicity, authenticity and exclusiveness make each Maison unique. It is “homemade” luxury that expresses the spirit of each place.

The extraordinary Airelles Venezia will be the group’s first address outside France

Can you tell us more about the new Airelles hotel in Venice?

Venice is full of wonderful hotels, though none of them offer an especially peaceful setting in the city. With Airelles Venezia, on the island of La Giudecca, this is no longer the case: the hotel comprises a collection of five historic residences around an inner garden of about 2.5 acres. Beautifully romantic, the garden is an incredibly special feature of this magnificent project, which will offer a unique experience in Venice. The Airelles Collection is growing, and this exceptional hotel will be its first outside France.

How have you combined the Airelles spirit with the building's cultural heritage?

The watchwords are simplicity and authenticity. From the very start of the project, I wanted, at all costs, to retain the spirit reflecting the Airelles DNA, while respecting the history of the site. Once this is in place, it then gives space for each of the other Airelles teams to be be able to express their talent. Each of the buildings which encircle the garden, such as the Conventino or Monasterio, will therefore preserve its own identity bearing witness to its past. All together, the hotel will thus offer an exceptional setting worthy of the greatest theatrical decors.

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