How Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme disrupted its lobby design

GOSTELOW REPORT—“I may not be an architect but after 45 years in the hotel business, I think I have knowledge as well as a passion for design,” says Claudio Ceccherelli, general manager of the 156-room Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, in the center of Paris.

“I have had the rare opportunity of working with Ed Tuttle, the Seattle-born designer who created masterpiece interiors for such hotels as Park Hyatt Milano, which I opened, and here, at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. We are all mourning the news that he passed away last Sunday, 21st June 2020, aged only 75,” he shared in an atypically sad moment.  

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, a conversion of the 1891 palace built for fashion designer Jeanne Paquin, 1869-1936, and today owned by Hyatt, re-opens 1st September. “There is no point opening earlier as main markets for Parisian palaces – USA, Middle East, Japan, China – won’t yet travel back to Paris,” he explained.

Claudio Ceccherelli considers flowers for his new-look lobby-lounge-bar.
Claudio Ceccherelli considers flowers for his new-look lobby-lounge-bar.

Regulars returning will, after coming in a mere 60 feet in from the hotel’s main entrance on Rue de la Paix, see a design change, led by the GM.

“We will have a new free-flow lobby concept. Until now the total space, which is about 2,000 square feet in all, had sitting areas and a casual dining area that served breakfast and lunch but closed at 3 p.m. The space fortunately has a two-way log-look fireplace that previously separated the dining area from the lounge area.”

The traditional concept of a hotel, a bar, a lounge and a restaurant with set mealtimes is being intentionally disrupted. “We are now looking for the proper name to explain our new concept and philosophy. It will offer eat anywhere, any time of day or evening. We will identify best-sellers over the last few years and have menus that are immediately popular. The central buffet station, mirrored to allow unusual views of the space, will be replaced by a bar counter with the same design but the concept will forever be a monument to Ed Tuttle.”

One feature of Paris palaces is a central courtyard, and Ceccherelli designs this, too – generally twice a year. “Usually, right through to fall, we would have our courtyard themed for al fresco outdoor eating. This year, this is not happening, but we are already planning what to do for summer 2021, and, meanwhile, we are working hard on the courtyard’s winter-long wood chalet which has, since 2015, been serving cold-weather goodies, say hot gluhwein and raclette,” this enthusiast continued.

How will disruption affect loyal local diners and regular hotel guests? They will still find the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, the Michelin-starred Pur’Grill, which will, apart from social distancing of tables, be unchanged. Ceccherelli will leave this operation, whose success he says is guaranteed, to its chef, Jean-François Rouquette, and the F&B team. His current creativity can go into the new-look free-flow.

“Use of space is so strategic and determinant for the success of any hotel or outlet; when I was working in Monte-Carlo, we put in the tunnel that connects Hôtel de Paris and its sibling, Hôtel Hermitage, to Les Thermes Marins wellness. Later, at Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy, we constructed a tunnel from the main hotel to the wellness there,” Ceccherelli explained.

There is neither need, nor opportunity, for a tunnel at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. He knows his challenge here is making the first-floor space innovative and even more appealing. “With new tabletop and flowers that change with the season, we will continue an association with beauty, instilled by Ed Tuttle, that goes way back to the days of Mme Paquin,” he promised.