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Can glamour still make up for true luxury in CANNES?

Mostly associated with the famous Film Festival which takes places yearly every May, Cannes has become in the past decade a two faceted destination, an overrated artificial glamour entertainment and shopping destination for Russians and Middle Easterners during summers and a conventions destination during the Fall and Winter season. 

Imagine there would be one season all year round, what do you actually find in Cannes? Take away the glamour, very much associated with the most tasteless show off (either through a tuned luxury car which one could barely recognize from the original or running up and down the Croisette with designer shopping bags) and you are left with half a dozen five star hotels and with a large number of luxury designer boutiques.

Looking closer and going through the many boutiques, I realized that with the exception of Gucci, Chanel, Celine and Prada, which have proper representation, both in terms of size and store concept, most of the other luxury brands a merely mini-boutiques, most displaying an out-dated store concept (interior design and facade) and with a very limited range of products.

No wonder, shopping is mostly about the large bags than actually about finding a wide selection of products. In the off season, expect from shop to shop to have different opening hours, so shoppers could get completely confused. I would also like to stress that when I mean representation, I am mostly referring to a good selection of the products from the respective reason.

Then, there are the fabulous luxury hotels! With best available rates in the off season starting at 600 euros for a standard room up to 1.400 euros in the peak season, one would expect the best of luxury hospitality. Indeed, one can find that! but only looking at the facade of the impressive buildings or if one is enough to be allocated a renovated room (usually more than 80% of the five star hotel rooms inventory have not been renovated in more than a decade). And this, despite the fact that some hotels proudly show on their official websites photos of the very few renovated rooms, in some cases by a very famous interior designer.

With the exception of Five Hotel (opened less than 6 months ago and recently rated 5 star) and Gray D’Albion (beautifully renovated 4 star which deserves 6 stars if compared to all the other major 5 star hotels),  most of the other luxury hotels have the most tired rooms one could ever imagine. I believe that regardless of location, seasonality or even huge occupancy, any hotel which claims to be luxury positioned should either shut down for a full renovation or should only operate with the renovated inventory of rooms.

However difficult this decision might be from a purely business perspective, I believe that, in the long run, even the ”emerging markets” consumers will get ”tired” with the product they are paying huge amounts of money. Many would argue service can make up for an older, un-renovated room. I beg to differ! Even if one would close his or her eyes and keep repeating ”I am in Cannes, the most fabulous destination”, the smell of the old carpet and old curtains, not to mention leaking bathroom fixtures will most surely be a shivering wake up call.

Can the efficiency and kind manner of a housekeeping staff make up for the old, used and sometimes torn towels?!? I would sometimes wonder what must go through the minds of the staff of such a hotel. On many occasions, I was shocked to see the state of their back rooms – they looked dirty and derelict. What about the very slow speed of the internet for which you have to pay at least 25 euros per day or the noisy air-conditioning system?

All in all, I believe that the time will come for guests, regardless of nationality or connoisseur-ship to stand up and claim firmly to be treated honestly. Cannes is a blessed destination which deserves to keep its magic throughout the entire year, beyond The Film Festival, beyond stars rating, fake or real glamour. And one day that magic will be back, through RESPECT !

Oliver Petcu

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