Putting on the Ritz…in Paris!

Cynthia Bartlett in front of the new Ritz Carlton in Paris, France
Body: 
This morning I awoke trying to remember my dream, piecing it together to keep the memory alive. I remember the door of my limousine opened by a white-gloved attendant in a royal blue uniform and billed cap, detailed in buttons of shimmering gold. Stepping out of the car, I faced No. 15 Place Vendome, the address of Hôtel Ritz Paris, the world’s greatest hotel, at least that was Cesar Ritz’ intention when he unveiled his “piece de résistance “in 1898. Following in the footsteps of heads of state, celebrities and royalty, I was ushered onto the Ritzy red carpet, hoping that my tiara would not slip while being greeted by the well-trained, friendly, yet regal staff.
 
It still feels like a dream, but I am pinching myself because this palace of elegance was my reality recently, as I had the privilege to stay at the newly reopened Hôtel Ritz Paris, after having been closed for a long four-year renovation. Of course, reality also means that I wasn’t wearing a tiara (maybe my next life!), but the staff is trained to give their guests the royal treatment, and that began the moment we stepped off the plane and out of the jet bridge!
 
The Ritz Paris is part of TravelStore's Signature Hotel and Resorts program, which extends our guests special amenities. We deplaned and walked right into our first TravelStore-provided Signature amenity; we were greeted by a friendly Ritz staff member who swiftly ushered us through immigration, customs, baggage claim and into an air-conditioned limousine on the hottest day in Paris’ recorded history, at 96F. As we were in the good hands, we were not going to complain about the weather!
 
Once we arrived at 15, Place Vendôme, Helene greeted us and smoothly checked us in. Our room was not quite ready, so we were indulged in an enthusiastic tour of the property. The majestic, original red carpet (as in the first red carpet in the world) leads to the newly upgraded 142 rooms and 71 suites, the Salon Proust tearoom, two restaurants including L’Espadon, a Michelin star-bound Paris addition, and the iconic Bar Hemingway. 
 
After its four year multimillion dollar, top to bottom renovation by owner Mohammed Al Fayed, the Ritz now offers an elegant shopping passage, the world’s first Chanel Spa, an underground tunnel to come and go with absolute privacy, a ballroom, three kitchens in the hotel’s cooking school, Ecole Ritz Escoffier, and a Versailles-inspired miniature garden.
 
When our room was ready, Helene ushered me and my travel companion to our upgraded room, for which we couldn’t have been more grateful, an elegantly decorated apartment in soft hues of blues and gold. The 18th-century style is updated with a fresh and light feel with the latest technology, such as a bedside touch control for heating and lighting and
televisions hidden in the mirrors. The long and arduous flight across the pond was rewarded with sweet delectables under a glass dome and fresh fruit on a platter, along with welcoming notes from the Ritz staff and my thorough and wonderful TravelStore agent, Linda Kahn-Ferrell. The only thing missing was someone to feed us the grapes!
 
A sumptuous French breakfast was served under a retractable glass-domed roof in the atrium of l’Espadon restaurant that guests can now enjoy year round. In the main room, we treated ourselves to a special dinner with attentive and serious service, where several courses of the finest French flavors were thoroughly enjoyed after their synchronized reveal under shiny silver domes. 
 
Sadly, when it was time for us to check out, we waited for the TravelStore-provided limousine in the Bar Hemingway, which Hemingway was said to have liberated at the end of World War II, and is largely unchanged. The general manager, Christian Boyens, sought me out before my departure, eager for my feedback. After my Hemingway/Ritz education, I told him I had to agree with Hemingway when he said: "when I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.”

Cynthia Bartlett