Interview with Philippe Gombert, President of Relais & Châteaux
I invite you to discover my interview with Philippe Gombert, President of Relais & Châteaux, on the French art of welcoming in Relais & Châteaux.
LD: Relais & Châteaux is a brand that was created in 1941 in France, where it draws its origin, its traditions, and its style. What is your vision of the French art of welcoming?
Created in France in 1954, the Association has set its sight, across its Members, on its ambition to embody and promote the values of the art of living and to offer its clients the most exquisite means of discovering the world.
The Art of Living, cultivated by Relais & Châteaux for over 60 years, brings together the arts of the table, the culinary arts, the art of welcoming, the art of transmitting…those unique fields of expertise which have defined and continue to define the status of Relais & Châteaux.
Philippe Gombert will join us again tomorrow to respond to the following question: over the years, the Relais & Châteaux group has developed its international reach, where it exports its expertise and art of welcoming. How is the French art of welcoming adapting itself to the 21st century in the international luxury market? What are the values that you convey to the world?
Biography of Philippe Gombert
The son and grandson of Parisian hoteliers who left behind their native home in Southwest France, it was through a true return to our origins that, in 1982, my family and I acquired Château de la Treyne. Following its premature ruin, my father, a medicine, and my mother, a hotel-worker by profession, sought to realize their dream: receive guests in a unique setting as they would their friends at home. Their highly assured taste and art of welcoming would allow them to assemble a loyal client base.
Ten years later, in 1992, our home finally joined the great family of Relais & Château. After splitting my time between the Paris Bar, where I worked as a lawyer, and la Treyne, where I would retreat every weekend, I took over the operation of our family business and am now coming into my seventh year. Our seasonal establishment falls within the average activity of our Association. My wife Stéphanie, who’s German, manages the Home with a daily sense of passion that is as irreplaceable for me as it is for all of our guests.
We are a hotel-keeping couple who are truly passionate and attentive to the details and enjoyment of everyone we host. As befalls any hotel-operator or restaurant-owner, our home takes up an essential part of every aspect of our life. Fortunately, we are lucky enough to have three children, and in fact, two of our daughters still live at our home.
I am very proud of the trust that has been accorded to me and which has permitted me to serve our Association over the course of the last twelve years—first from the Members of my Regional Delegation, the Great Southwest of France, as Regional Delegate from 2001 to 2005. From 2006 to 2009, I ensured the coordination of all the French regions by acting as first National French Delegate. Since 2009, I have earned a seat as General Secretary to the Executive Committee of our Association. Throughout these various mandates and years of volunteer work, I have served and learned a tremendous deal. This experience has allowed me to both observe what has worked well in our organization and better understand the necessary reforms and adaptations.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.