May 2009








Lights, Camera, Reality


Contributed by Lana Dubovik, Hospitality Atelier, Los Angeles


Cannes, France, May 21, 2009. Greetings from the glamorous Red Carpet Riviera of the Cannes International Film Festival. The atmosphere of the 62nd year of this spectacular tradition was expected to be a “toned-down” and elegant version of prior years.


As in the past, tourists and paparazzi packed the Croisette trying to catch a glimpse of Penelope, Brad and Quentin during a closely-guarded brunch on the Carlton Terrace or climbing the steps of the Palais for their back tie premieres. Meanwhile, down the street other vedettes kept busy with “high brow” make up sessions at the Hotel Martinez.


However, this would be a first for several of the major seafront “liners”, like the re-flagged Palais Stephanie (formerly Noga Hilton), which were forced to bend their traditional 10–12 night minimum stay requirements and bring back room rates reminiscent of the Titanic years. Some of the guests, who in the past would not trade proximity to the Festival for a palatable rate, ventured off to discover new properties outside of Cannes, like the Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche, a 40 minute drive from the heart of the festivities.


At the nearby Club 55 in St. Tropez, all tables were full with globe-trotting jet-setters but the yachts were fewer (or just smaller?) as were the orders of Cristal quenching the thirst of the “A-list” crowd.


You could see “la crise” in the scaled-down billboards along the Croisette, as well as the abbreviated attendance of market execs. Yes, behind the glitz and glamour actual work gets done as studios premiere their summer blockbusters, while independent producers and sales agents endeavor to pre-sell next year’s hits. In times like these, much as with hotel developments, movie projects get “frozen” or reconfigured, pending financial recovery. Even the most veteran players are being extremely selective, looking only for films with major theatrical upside, such as the new 3D sensation, “Around the World in 50 Years”, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming “Bruno”.


When the market is “hot” the radar is high, and filmmakers and hoteliers alike confidently partake in strategies that may or may not be cost-effective. Today’s economic “detox” eliminates any ambition that may be more ego than ROI-driven, which, in dietary terms, is a healthy exercise. We have yet to see the outcome of these humbling times on the year-over-year hotel performance in the Côte d’Azur, but one thing is certain: the lessons of recovery for even the most iconic institutions will force us to embrace change and bring back common sense and responsibility. Touche to that!


Lana Dubovik, Principal of Hospitality Atelier, a revenue-generating hotel Sales & Marketing consulting firm.

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