In celebration of International Women’s Day, BHN spoke to Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, president and CEO of FAUCHON Hospitality, about how the FAUCHON L’Hôtel brand was created and designed in sync with the needs of women.
FAUCHON is a 130-year-old, family-owned company established in France in 1886. With its roots in luxury gastronomy, FAUCHON opened its first boutique hotel in September 2018. FAUCHON L’Hôtel Paris is situated on the Place de la Madeleine, and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
Centred around the four pillars of GLAM (gourmet, location, art and mesdames), FAUCHON embodies and epitomises feminine luxury. From distinct yet discreet design features such as the angle of the shower head (so as not get the hair wet if desired), to transforming the physical space of the bedroom to a private and comfortable dining destination, the FAUCHON L’Hôtel brand is incredibly mindful of the female character.
How does the FAUCHON brand align itself with women?
FAUCHON is a very feminine brand, which has always targeted the sophisticated female client through its colour palette, bold attitude, and quest for pleasure and indulgence. As one of France’s most well known gourmet food provider and finest patisserie, we have always offered luscious, innovative pastries and desserts in a variety of unique styles and flavour profiles (think the “Bisou Bisou”), which provide a stunning aesthetic in terms of design as well as flavour.
Therefore, when it came time to create a domain for a guest to “live the FAUCHON brand” day and night, it was the perfect opportunity for us to appeal to the feminine essence in a wide variety of ways that seductively go far beyond the obvious. The word “glamour” brilliantly defines the basis for the concept of the FAUCHON L’Hotel and our guest rooms and suites. We created the perfect Paris pied-a-terre — the apartment every sophisticated woman wishes she had in Paris that is stylish, seductive, and the ultimate haven for intimacy and privacy. And now she does at the FAUCHON L’Hotel Paris and soon in Kyoto, plus other cosmopolitan cities in the world.
By attracting and appealing to a specific demographic, some would argue there’s an element of risk in doing so. What steps were taken to ensure that FAUCHON met the needs of a female traveller?
The FAUCHON brand has always been a risk taker. We always push the envelope just a bit in our food product by using time-honoured French recipes and then applying some sort of twist or innovation – either in the ingredients we use, during the preparation, or in the final design style.
The disruptors are those who often achieve incredible success and transform an industry as a whole and yes, there really isn’t anyone in the hospitality industry currently who has designed a hotel product so much in tune with women. But, rest assured, we have done so with in-depth research conducted with our target audience of affluent women.
We have identified what it is we need to do to establish the perception of luxury and also exceed the wishes women have for ultimate comfort, style, and intimacy. We have really delved down deeply into the underlying aesthetic of a woman and what she needs and desires, which includes:
– Special wooden floors that are quite pleasant for a woman to walk on with her bare feet.
– A transparent wardrobe cleverly backlit so a woman can see her clothing at a glance and be proud of her style and accessories.
– Special lighting in the bathroom inspired by a TV studio for precise and successful makeup application.
– Exceptional bathroom amenities from Carita (L’Oreal).
– Incredibly upgraded tools to assist a woman in her beauty regimen including the Dyson blow dryer encased in its sexy pink box for safe keeping, as well as bathrobes that are appropriately sized for a woman so she doesn’t have to make do with oversized men’s bathrobes.
In our custom-made furnishings and décor, our thought process went far beyond just being appealing to the eye. Materials were chosen for their contact (soft, sweet, smooth, velvety and sometimes with a little ruggedness) to make sure our guest would feel inspired and enhanced — just like when they drink a glass of champagne: smooth and sparkling at the same time. Carpets, bed linens, tables and armchairs are all a representation of those choices. The thought process overall went much deeper than something pleasant to the eye.
What were the reasons for appealing to the female taste?
We believe a woman, more so than a man, experiences things holistically or with her whole person. Therefore we have designed an overall FAUCHON experience engaging the guest on a variety of levels including physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual in order to resonate with them and forge a much deeper and impactful connection. Women, for the most part, also have much higher levels of expectation than men in all aspects including service, quality of products, design, etc., and therefore by setting a bar for a higher level of quality throughout, we are offering a guest stay experience which everyone will benefit from.
Additionally, we also feel that if it pleases a woman, it will be pleasing to a man as well.
From your experience, how has the requirements of a female traveller changed? And how will this likely to evolve in the coming years?
The female traveller — both for business and pleasure — has come into her own in recent years. No longer just a guest of a male traveler, women executives travel on their own for business, or on their own for pleasure, and they are much more confident in communicating their opinions, likes, dislikes, needs, wants, etc.
As a result, women don’t have the patience any longer to accept hotel rooms designed for men — which they need to learn to acclimatise to, like shaving mirrors positioned at a taller height than they can use, for example. They also want a 360-degree sensorial in-room experience through scent, music, quality of fabrics and materials, beauty products, and more — more holistic.
Our research has shown us that women want authenticity and a sense of place. They want a feeling of intimacy and safety. They want a place they can just be themselves and not worry about what others think. They also want a hotel experience, which will somehow let them leave feeling better than when they arrived on a deeper level. An experiential stay, which has enriched them, improved the quality of their life in some way, and enabled them to feel better about themselves and how they see the world. It’s not just about luxury and nice things — it is about designing a positive, enriching, and desirable experience overall. And this will continue to be prevalent in the coming years.
You mentioned that FAUCHON L’Hôtel rooms evoke a sense of protection and comfort, which can allude to the solo female traveller. What can hospitality businesses do to better cater to those travelling independently?
Hotels today don’t take into account the mindset of some female travellers. Many brands believe the young Millennial audience wants to network and connect in public places and therefore everything about the guest experience is centred upon that. Many properties have done away with room service — or a good quality room service — and have opted for grab-and-go options and gatherings in hotel bars and lounges. It’s often difficult to get good quality food delivered in the room.
But our research has shown that many guests — particularly solo female travellers — often crave the opportunity to let their hair down, if you will, in their own guest room and relax and enjoy the quiet and solitude. Therefore we have made every aspect of the in-room experience superlative.
This starts with making room service a great experience with our FAUCHON in-room Chef Service. Upon placing the order for a meal — anything that is available in The Grand Café FAUCHON — the meal is then delivered course by course, not all at once — and the person setting up the meal engages with the guest to determine how they want the experience to go, to interact with them, tell them about the ingredients in the dishes they have ordered, gain their feedback, make suggestions, etc.
FAUCHON’S iconic Gourmet Bar also provides an entertaining and fun experience for the guest in the room — immediately upon arrival you have fresh macarons and then a stunning armoire brimming with FAUCHON goodies which are customised to the guest’s wishes (salty, sweet, or a combination). So if someone — particularly a solo female traveller — wants to sit in her room or suite and snack on FAUCHON goodies with a glass of champagne to treat herself, she can do that, no questions asked, with no eyes looking at her.
Tech-savvy guests also appreciate the in-room entertainment with the e-tablet offering curated content, which also connects to all departments, as well as our other services like jogging with our hotel’s jogging coach (quite often the general manager) so she can be enjoying a tour of Paris while jogging with a local and not alone.
Our wide variety of services include a personal shopper who can make recommendations or selections for the guest on where to shop, or curate a selection of items based upon the guest’s preferences, and more.
Overall, the FAUCHON guest experience is curated, welcoming, and indulgent and our guest rooms are easy to operate and live in. The perfect Paris pied-a-terre if only for a few nights.
Hospitality businesses today need to recognise there is not a “one size fits all” approach and be willing to invest in curating a customised high-quality experience designed to meet a guest’s individual preferences.