“Authenticity is a real service, with human kindness and an excellent quality, which makes the experience beautiful, unique and memorable. That’s why I launched Authentic Hotels & Cruises in 2005. Luxurious hotel catalogs already existed, but there was a real need of a non-commercial guide, who would propose different experiences, far from the standardized and global luxury. Initially, the idea sprung from the desire of my guests themselves. They used to travel all year long and wanted to see gathered in a beautiful book, similar addresses to the Ferme d’Augustin with locations to recommend with a real spirit and where emotions vibrate, offering unequalled experiences. So I started the first guide with only forty addresses, and we are at the 5th edition which will be published in early July 2018, with a figure around 550 establishments and cruise lines, that is a maximum; That’s why we retain only 5% of candidates for each edition. The principle is still the same: no dues to pay for the hoteliers, so that there is a real objectivity and a freedom in the selection. The result is exclusive places, such as Francis Ford Coppola’s last minimalist luxury hotel, and mostly human-sized hotel-restaurants, with fewer than 50 rooms, which offer an impeccable quality of hospitality and service, beautiful and renovated rooms, in addition to a privileged setting, with charm and authenticity, a certain art of living and well-being, which allows to be in communion with the environment.
In my childhood, I was impregnated by a hospitality made of exchanges and authentic meetings. The majority of customers came back every year, and many became longtime friends. I remember, and this was already the case with my grandfather Augustin, these long passionate conversations at night at my parents’ table. It is so important to meet the owners and appreciate these moments of conviviality in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. It feels like home, and that’s what’s missing today. Our guests are year-round travelers and they stay the rest of the year in very luxurious hotels. But they notice that all rooms are alike, with a standardized service and welcoming processes that remove the joy of the meeting. There may also enjoy a creative cuisine, but still it uses farmed or frozen products, or vegetables with pesticide. This removes all the real benefits that we all need to re-energize ourselves and give what is good to our mind and body. That’s why we wanted to make a hotel-restaurant different from the others, rooted in the place where we are, and living at the rhythm of nature and local actors. And that’s why I started looking in the world where to find similar places.
The basis of authenticity is sincerity, and wanting the best for others, then treating them as oneself. This is expressed by opening our home to the guests so that they feel at ease and looked-after as friends. For example, they can drink coffee or eat a dessert even at 3 am, as they would do at home. They can also have the fresh garden tomato directly on their plate. That’s the real luxury, not the gold faucets in every bathroom and all that glitters. We have billionaire customers who have been coming to us for years, and like to find discretion and simplicity, far from appearances and society life. Authenticity is in the wealth of the heart, and I find this quality in my guests and with the Authentic Hotels partners. Because the real joy is when you find everything to live your stay like at home, and make it a unique and magical experience, without burdening yourself with social status and titles.
Ensure that guests actually have the very best and get the reward of seeing them happy! This is what really motivates me every day. Now, I want to add a detail of utmost importance, and beginning in all the Authentic Hotels & Cruises. I want to offer the guests a pleasure drink, full of virtues, that replaces white sugar or other sweetening agents, which are harmful to health. I recently created my brand to distribute this miraculous sweetener, based on birch bark, which comes from Finland. The cost will be minimal for high-end hotels, but that will mark our difference, because we will offer a beneficial product, essential to our health. I hope this will also encourage our guests to pay attention to their diet, and that of their children, and at the end, contribute to eradicate all diseases caused by sugar, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular accidents. This is where Authenticity takes us, bringing us to more quality of life, sincerity and naturalness and enhance that.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on April 21, 2018, in Ramatuelle (Var, France)
Read also the portrait of Christophe Vallet