Looking for a smaller, stylish luxury five-star hotel in Paris? Make a beeline to one of B Signature Hotels and Resorts properties. There are five to select from, including the Hôtel Montalembert and Hôtel Bel Ami, both located on the Left Bank and on the Right Bank the Hôtel Vernet, Hôtel de Sers and Hôtel Edouard 7. Each has a prime location and a unique design identity. All deliver exceptional service to accommodate a global clientele. B Signature Hotels also has two luxury resort properties, Domaine de la Bretesche in Brittany and Hôtel Manapany in St. Barth.
Anne Jousse is the trailblazing force behind B Signature Hotels & Resorts. After working in the insurance brokage business for 20 years with her father, Alain Bessé, the family hotel group began with the purchase in 1990 of Domaine de la Bretesche. The grand property was a premier destination golf resort, but it had seen better days. Jousse transformed it into a Relais & Chateaux property with a Michelin-starred restaurant and Cinq Mondes spa.
Following the renovation of Domaine de la Bretesche, Jousse took on the reigns of the family business and continued to expand her B Signature Collection, adding five Paris properties in 2003 and Hotel Manapany in St. Barth in 2018.
Today, Jousse is widely recognized as a premier luxury boutique hotelier, and she works hard to maintain high standards and an eye for detail. She calls Nantes in the Loire Valley home and travels extensively to oversee her properties. Her daughter, Agathe, came on board as Director of Sales in 2016. Together, mother and daughter continue the family legacy and leadership.
Santé Magazine Food Editor and The Connected Table Live Co-Host, Melanie Young, asked Jousse how she defines “hospitality” and “luxury”:
MY: How did you create the design elements for each hotel?
Anne Jousse: Each hotel is unique by its location and style. So, the design is different. Each hotel must be linked to its area, as we are not a chain.
We usually choose different designers, except for those who can adapt themselves to the new spirit of the place. Of course, we are instrumental in giving our input.
I think the location of the hotel is essential to be in the right place, as well as- of course- the décor. It can also be the outstanding views from your windows.
There are also many experiences around the hotel, such as discovering new addresses given by the concierge in Paris, visiting a vegetable and flower garden which is hidden in Domaine de la Bretesche, or meeting tortoises when you are going to your breakfast in St Barth.
MY: What measures has B Signature Hotels taken to make their hotels environmentally supportive?
Anne Jousse: We have been environmentally focused for years. We have been certified “Clef Verte” in Bel Ami for more than 10 years now. “Clef Verte” is a European environmental certification (more or less like “Green Globe”). Manapany St Barth has been designed and rebuilt with sustainability in mind and has also obtained the “Clef Verte” label. The other properties have the same approach and are, at the moment, working to get their certification label. A certification label is a way to process and formalize our processes.
MY: How do you defined “hospitality” in terms of the standards you set at B Signature Hotels?
Anne Jousse: Our hospitality charter can be summarized in 5 words:
- Family spirit
- Tailor made
This charter has been designed by myself and is upheld by all of our employees.
MY: How do you define “luxury” in a hotel?
Anne Jousse: For me, luxury is an emotion rather than a product. Indeed, you can be in the most beautiful place in the world, and if there is no emotion and you don’t feel anything, you probably won’t feel good. Emotion is very personal, but I think it can be transmitted in different ways. The most important one is the service which will be given by the staff, through the way they behave and by the way they are thinking about your needs. They have to work with their heart and not only with standards.
MY: How do your guests’ profiles differ by hotel and location in Paris?
Anne Jousse: It is more the location in Paris than the hotel which can give a guest profile. Globally, French, American, and British citizens are the main clients of our hotels. After [that], it depends on the area. Middle Eastern clients normally come to the Champs-Elysées area (Hôtel Vernet and Hôtel de Sers), South American visitors enjoy Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Hôtel Bel Ami and Hôtel Montalembert), and our Asian clientele prefer Opera (Hôtel Edouard 7). Concerning our resorts, Domaine de la Bretesche, which is a “Relais & Châteaux” is mainly French and British, and St Barth is more American, French and European.
MY: How important are visitors’ reviews?
Anne Jousse: Visitors’ reviews are absolutely essential as they allow us to progress every day. We generally answer all comments in the week they are issued. Our own review system is the most important for us and arrives directly in our mailbox. Google and Trip Advisor are also essential.
MY: How is the dynamic working with your daughter, Agathe?
Anne Jousse: I think it is a wonderful thing to work with one of your children and with my daughter, especially, in my case. You understand things sometimes without talking, even if each of us can have a different view due to the difference in experience and age. I think it’s very efficient working as a mother and daughter team. Between us, everything is shared and discussed without boundaries and restraints. Our discussions give us the opportunity to discover each other further, through the prism of business. We are very lucky to have this opportunity! Naturally, Agathe envisions that she will take over the company in a few years if she would like to!
Left Bank or Right Bank?
That’s always a question when one visits Paris. Either way, there is plenty to see and do and a B Signature Hotel nearby.
For our three-night stay in Paris we chose L’Hôtel Montalembert on the Left Bank. The location in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés was perfect for shopping boutiques and the spectacular food emporium at Le Bon Marché. Both the Musée d’Orsay and The Louvre were within easy walking distance as the Tuilleries gardens Just next door to L’Hôtel Montalembert is L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The hotel has a stylish literary feel about it. Our room was cozy and quiet, and the staff was extremely accommodating.
On the Right Bank we visited the L’Hôtel Vernet, an oasis of quiet elegance close to the bustling Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Rooms are spacious with a chic contemporary design flair. The Vernet has an on-site restaurant which gets high marks for its contemporary cuisine and stunning stained-glass ceiling designed by Gustave Eiffel. We sipped champagne and tasted a selection of hors d’oeuvres in the bar-lounge, making notes to return for a leisurely return. There is never enough time in Paris!
Featured photo: L’Hôtel de Sers on the Right Bank