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Philippe J. Leboeuf

The Four S’s

Editors’ Note

Philippe Leboeuf assumed his current role at Claridge’s in July 2007, after serving as Vice President of Operations for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. A graduate of Cornell University, he has also held managerial positions at Hotel de Crillon in Paris and The Carlyle in New York.

Property Brief

Situated on the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street in the heart of London’s Mayfair district, the five-star Claridge’s (www.claridges.co.uk) is within easy reach of Hyde Park, Park Lane, Bond Street, and Oxford Street. The luxury property boasts 203 bedrooms, all individually designed and featuring advanced communication and entertainment systems, and is also home to a variety of meeting and event spaces, a full-service beauty and fitness center, three restaurants, and two bars.

How much of an impact has the economic downturn had on travel and tourism within London, and how challenging has it been for Claridge’s business?

It has proved challenging in terms of large-scale private events, where business has substantially reduced as client company budgets are cut, and there has also been less than average revenue within the rooms department, specifically with regard to suites. Business from the United States has dropped by approximately 20 percent, but thanks to the increase in the value of the Euro, this has been counterbalanced by the emergence of markets in Italy, France, and the Middle East.

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Claridge’s entrance

How challenging is it to balance rate and occupancy during these times?

Claridge’s, along with our sister hotels, The Connaught and The Berkeley, has made the decision to not only offer competitive rates, but also to attach added value with advantages such as upgrades or additional amenities. It is a costly strategy but we have dropped no more than 10 percent and, as a result, our rate remains the highest in London.

Is it competitive for clientele within those three properties, or do they complement each other?

As a group, we certainly complement each other. The Connaught and Claridge’s are very close in terms of average room rate, but we differ in style significantly. The Connaught has 100 rooms whereas Claridge’s has 203. So in terms of what each hotel has to offer, The Connaught has a distinctly club-like atmosphere; it’s more discreet with understated elegance. Claridge’s is bolder, with its large timelessly elegant lobby, for example.

The Berkeley is located in Knightsbridge and is the younger sister of the two grand dame hotels. It is contemporary in design, featuring exquisite innovations which attract London’s hipsters and international fashionistas. It also benefits from two-star Michelin chef, Marcus Wareing.



In London, there are many great stand-alone restaurants. As a result, is it challenging to be successful in food and beverage, and are you pleased with how your relationship with Gordon Ramsay has developed?

Claridge’s has its own executive chef, Martyn Nail, who operates the Foyer and Reading Room restaurants, which serve a contemporary British menu, as well as our in-room dining service. Recently there has been a definite shift away from the “super star” chefs in London towards an emphasis on fine quality seasonal food that is sourced locally – similar to that found on Chef Nail’s menu. With Gordon Ramsay, we have a tenant relationship, but he is essentially running his own show with a focus on external clientele. In contrast, Martyn Nail caters specifically to Claridge’s clientele and has the interesting challenge of serving the culinary whims of our guests day and night, as well as creating menus to suit his own extensive following of London residents.


Claridge’s entrance on Bond Street

You have a broad range of suite offerings for high-end travelers. Is there a different feel from suite to suite?

Our suites make up one-third of Claridge’s room inventory and are all individually designed, so the aesthetics can differ enormously. However, the quality and comfort is consistent throughout. Claridge’s and The Connaught are the only hotels within the Maybourne Hotel Group to offer butler service within suites, and we’re intent on maximizing this feature over the coming year by employing and training additional butlers. Already Claridge’s 2009 results show notable revenue growth in this area as well as a significant increase in guest satisfaction. Our butler service has also been credited with an unexpected growth in the number of guests from the entertainment industry, specifically the Hollywood market.

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Dining room

Is your meeting space focused largely on high-level but intimate meetings?

It is indeed, and we offer an event planner service that parallels the success of our butlers by offering the client a personal coordinator who will assist throughout the planning process and on the day of the event itself. We are also currently developing new ideas and new standards in order for Claridge’s to become a pioneer in terms of the best possible service. For example, our recent group and event clients have received complimentary gifts, designed to complement the theme of their visit. Most recently, we hosted a group of guests who planned to attend Mamma Mia while in London, so a CD of the official soundtrack was placed in each guest room in time for their return from the West End show.

How do you keep your staff motivated and service levels high during trying times?

This is incredibly important to me. We have something we call the “L factor” for “Legendary” service at Claridge’s. Legendary service is disseminated to our staff through training in all departments, and also through demonstrations, internal competitions, and staff-lead road shows. I have a rotating executive committee member who is responsible for organizing such events and incentives and this method has proved very successful.


Claridge’s Bar

What are your plans for the property and your priorities for 2010?

Claridge’s is focused on the Four S’s: sustained growth, which I am confident that we can achieve; suite business, which we hope to improve upon as I discussed earlier; security, which is extremely important not just in terms of IT but in all aspects; and sustainable operations. In 2009, we received the Carbon Standard award, as well as the Bronze award from Green Tourism for London, which refers not only to our organic menu, but also to our approach to recycling and the use of eco-friendly equipment.

In addition, we hope to continue our partnership with Dior, building on the success of our Dior dressing table service and the sensational John Galliano christmas tree at Claridge’s 2009. We are also very proud that in 2010, Claridge’s will unveil the first series of suites and rooms designed by Diane von Furstenberg, which will mark the legendary designer’s first foray into hotel interiors.