In an exclusive interview to CPP-LUXURY.COM, Michael Smithuis, General Manager of Le Montreux Palace Fairmont Hotel in Montreux (Switzerland) has spoken about the unique features of his property and how the legendary hotel remains a top choice for some of the finest corporate, private and entertainment events in Europe.
Le Montreux Palace Fairmont is one of the heritage luxury hotels in Europe with the largest and more diverse conferences and banqueting facilities. Which type of events you host most regularly?
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is the ideal place to organize conferences, seminars, exhibitions, product launches, workshops, gala events, weddings and incentive from 5 to 900 people. Our meeting and banquet rooms range from the belle époque style to modern space and include features such as natural daylight, air conditioning, windows that can be opened for fresh air, high ceilings, suspension points, easy access, ISDN facilities, wireless LAN connection and the latest equipment.
What do you propose for weddings and private events? Why would guests choose your hotel for such events?
The magic and memories of a wedding will last a lifetime. A fairytale wedding from an intimate ceremony to a more opulent reception, Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is a perfect setting with the beauty of its surroundings. Our wedding coordinator will take care of every little detail. We are capable of meeting all expectations. Additionally guests attending can extend and visit everything Switzerland has to offer whether it be the famous Chillon Castle, Gruyères village, the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, part of the UNESCO World Heritage, Glacier 3000, etc. etc.
Such vast and sophisticated spaces, including a ballroom with its own stage theatre, give way to imagination. What were the most extravagant events you ever hosted?
– At the occasion of the famous “Panda Ball” from WWF we had the honor to welcome Queen Noor of Jordan and Prince Albert of Monaco
– The XIII Summit of the Francophonie was held in Montreux in October 2010. More than 30 head of States, including Nicolas Sarkozy stayed at the Montreux Palace during this important summit.
– And a very important historical event: on 20th July 1936, the important Dardanelles treaty (a peace pact between Greece, Turkey, England, France and Russia), better known as the “Montreux Convention” was signed at the Montreux Palace in the Salle des Fêtes. 500 diplomats invited by the Turkish Republic arrived at the Palace on 23rd June 1936. The conference should have lasted a week but lasted over a month. The pact was finally signed on 20th of July at 10pm
Which was the most expensive private event / corporate event you hosted?
Well the three events that come to mind is a wedding of a big family in Kuwait where a whole truck load of peach and white roses were brought in to decorate the whole hotel, there were roses everywhere and the whole event was out of this world with the lavish food and star entertainment. For the other we built a beautiful tent in the gardens which was open to the lake with the breathtaking views under the 1001 night theme all in white!
We also hosted a 50th birthday of a Russia Oligarch, they built up a beautiful water fountain and flew in a container of art pieces, vodka and caviar straight from Moscow as well as a whole orchestra
Is there an special event you would wish to bring to life?
We strive to be challenged and the more crazy the idea is the more excited we are to make a dream come true!
Do you have specific target markets for private events such as weddings? What is the percentage of local/Swiss?
We are a preferred location for Swiss weddings and have been for years where more than 60% of our business comes from. We have Russian and Middle Eastern weddings yearly as well. For the last two years the focus has been on the Indian and Brazilian wedding markets which has brought it’s fruit with a few exceptional events.
Such extensive and complex spaces come with many operational challenges. Tell us more. What is the secret behind your reputed consistent service in C&B?
It requires a lot of organization and planning as well as extensive training of the staff to meet the guests high expectations.
Do you do any outside catering? What are your competitive advantages?
Absolutely we cater all over the region and have events at the convention center and the Chateau de Chillon on a weekly basis almost. Our competitive advantage is our service quality with highly trained staff and the food quality and consistency we provide where ever we operate whether for a small intimate event in a lake side villa or for 1500 people for congresses. Our gardens are turned into the VIP village during the Montreux Jazz Festival every year, where we serve a few thousand meals a day to VIP guests of sponsors and artists.
Next year, you are planning to reopen your fine dining restaurant. Tell us more
We are currently working on a new restaurant & bar concept on the 1st floor overlooking the lake and the alps to extend our current Food & Beverage offer
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