“We’re very proud of those kinds of comments,” Franck Leloup said as he showed Delano his visitors’ book.
For the past six years, Leloup has been general manager of the Hotel Place d’Armes, a five-star hotel located in the heart of Luxembourg City.
He and his team agreed to give Delano a behind-the-scenes tour of their operations on 3 May 2017.
The hotel opened in April 2010, after nearly five years of construction. Since June 2016, it’s been owned by a group led by Jean-Michel Desnos, head of the company that started managing the hotel under contract in 2012, and then bought it out.
The facade of the Hotel Place d’Armes, located on the place d’Armes in Luxembourg City, is seen on 3 May 2017
Not every client is a movie star like Ray Liotta or a visiting cabinet minister.
During the week, most overnight guests are businessmen, many of them regulars, who “leave early and arrive late”, stated Jessica Cogoni, the hotel’s marketing manager. Weekends and holidays, the hotel gets tourists who generally stay one or two nights.
A buffet table is seen towards the end of breakfast service inside Plëss, one of three restaurants at the Hotel Place d’Armes, on 3 May 2017. A total of three staff members work the breakfast service at Plëss. A fourth arrives to help clear the breakfast buffet and prepare for lunch service. Image: LaLa La Photo
In total, they have 28 guest rooms, including 12 suites.
But a big part of the hotel’s business are its three restaurants: the Michelin-starred Cristallerie; an upscale brasserie, Plëss; and the more informal Café de Paris.
Nora, a housekeeper and valet at the Hotel Place d’Armes, speaks with Delano in the laundry room on 3 May 2017. Image: LaLa La Photo
Sales at the three restaurants have flipped the normal revenue model, according to Leloup. Hotels usually earn about 70% of their revenue on the room side and 30% on food & beverages.
However, at the Hotel Place d’Armes it’s totally reversed: they make 30% on rooms and 70% from food & beverage.
Olivier Schanne, sommelier at the Hotel Place d’Armes, says the hotel, which includes three restaurants, sells around 60-70 bottles each day. Typically, they sell more bottles in summer and fewer in winter. Image: LaLa La Photo
This is reflected in its staffing numbers: collectively the food & beverage side makes up roughly two-thirds of permanent employees. Across all three restaurants and its catering operations, the kitchen staff numbers 25; the restaurant service staff is approximately 30 people.
Altogether the hotel employs around 80 year-round, and about 100 during the summer, when its terraces are packed.
Keven Erickson of LaLa La Photo takes pictures of Pascale Vidal, head of housekeeping at the Hotel Place d’Armes in Luxembourg City, as she prepares one of five “executive rooms”. The rack rate for type of room is €530 per night. The hotel gave Delano a behind-the scenes tour on 3 May 2017.
One of the first things Cogoni told Delano is that she came from Paris to work at the hotel on a six-week project. That was one-and-half years ago. “You get attached” to the “beautiful house” and “big but small” team, she said.
Separately, Leloup said employees were “kind of like a big family”. At least, “that’s the ambiance we want to create. It makes guests comfortable.”
Franck Leloup, general manager of the Hotel Place d’Armes, shows the note left by Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, in the hotel’s guest book. Branson wrote: “Thank you magical people”. Image: LaLa La Photo
Leloup said that he liked the variety of working in a hotel. “Every day is different” in the hospitality industry, since the work touches disciplines from food service to finance. “You can’t get ‘used’ to your job; no way.”
The hotel structure is made up of seven buildings that were joined together, the oldest dating from the 18th century. However, some of the stones in the cellar date to around the year 1000 AD.
A stairway leading to guestrooms at the Hotel Place d’Armes is seen during a tour of the hotel given to Delano on 3 May 2017. Image: LaLa La Photo
It’s an impressive site (see more pictures below).
Members of the public, if they need an excuse to stop by, can visit the hotel during a public exhibition of works by the French photographer Jean-Daniel Lorieux. The show runs between 11 May and 15 July, and is open between 9am and 9pm.