the 2013, the European Capital of Culture has a new “God”....It
comes in the form of 172 rooms, 22 suites; 72 with a view
of the Vieux Port and 33 with private terraces.
Executive Traveller visited
France’s 3rd largest city and it was clear from arrival
that the previously tainted city has undergone a massive
transformation to make it a “must visit” destination.
Each street has a dynamic, vibrant and exuberant story to
tell. Modernisation has enabled the city to capture its
historic qualities. History is a key instrument to everything
Marseillaise and the heart beat of everything from the buildings
and streets to the food and shops.
the city that brings out picturesque images of soaring
seagulls, singing crickets, charming cottages, and
leisurely games of “petanque” is the 2013,
the European Capital of Culture.
city that brings out picturesque images of soaring seagulls,
singing crickets, charming cottages, and leisurely games
of “petanque” is the 2013, the European Capital
of Culture. With several budget and standard commercial
flights about two hours away from London, this charming
tourist destination has a host of benefits. Marseille is
a region “bubbling over” with cultural exuberance
and in spring 2013, Marseille unveiled its biggest asset
Intercontinental ‘Hotel Dieu’, a five star
grandeur in the Vieux Port (old port).
InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu is perfectly
located overlooking the Vieux Port, right beside the
oldest district in Marseille known as the Panier.
It is housed in a listed historical monument dating
back to the 18th century and boasts a really beautiful
terrace, where you can rest after a busy day admiring
the Vieux Port. Nearby the Calanques must be seen
and have been designated a Unesco World Heritage.
The arrival of ‘Hotel Dieu’ is crucial
to the development of Marseille and Jean-Claude Gaudin,
Mayor of Marseille since 1995 passionately illustrates
this through long term involvement in the Hotel Dieu
a press conference launching the opening, he spoke
of his pride, as well as finally being able see the
doors of the hotel open. His excitement for the hotel’s
future and its apparent ability to draw in people
to the city of Marseille was evident. The mayor’s
involvement in the hotel has been hands on; the city
hall extension previously planned to lie between the
hotel and the Vieux Port was moved underground to
preserve the beauty of the hotel.
a Provence, Marseille brings together 97 towns and
communities in a remarkable cultural project; it comprises
of cities—such as the internationally-known
metropolis of Marseille, Aix-en- Provence, and Arles.
host charming villages and natural spaces imbued with magical
beauty. The whole region is in full development and artists
find it to be a source of inspiration. Culture in Marseille
has always been synonymous with festivity, entertainment,
avant-garde, and racial fusion. It is the place for museums,
theatres, artist’s workshops, design studios, as well
as a place to share and exchange ideas.
to celebrate the title of European Capital of Culture
Marseille the Provence is doing its best to honour the title
of European Capital of Culture. The destination has planned
more than 400 cultural events showcasing the artistic excellence
of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, under the theme:
«le partage des midis». For this, it is intended
that there will be crossroads of people, cultures, economies
and religions, a theatre of momentous changes. These influence
the artistic and cultural practices, intellectual production,
opening up new avenues in relations with Europe. The exchange
is at the heart of the cultural life of Marseille Provence.
It allows them to be at the forefront of the revival of
is welcoming the world to the very best its towns have to
offer. Urban cultures are the star of the show, extending
beyond music to include sport, literature, video, new technologies
and arts of all kinds. An outstanding collection of new
major cultural sites will open their doors to welcome visitors
from around the world.
this initial celebration of the Capital’s exhibitions,
ships will set sail, ports will hum to the rhythm
of mankind and its history, artists and works will
cross from shore to shore, and visitors will enjoy
one stop after another. This exceptional journey through
time and space will allow each one to discover the
Mediterranean of a thousand faces. Culture coincides
with the transformation of the Marseille sea front
and its new urban and port landscape—a new lifeline
between the city and its port. Against this backdrop,
the Large sea wall is especially significant and symbolic.
This long and thin dyke separating the sea and the
city runs for 7 km from Vieux-Port to Estaque.
A one kilometre stretch
is being fully renovated for 2013 to create one of
the key promenades of the Capital of Culture year.
Promenade Louis Brauquier, by Markus Bidaux
Traveller's Daniel Annoh discovers what the management of
The Intercontinental Hotel Dieu say about their property
He met up with an excited Madelijn Vervoord, General Manager
of the InterContinental Hotel Dieu to chat about her new
hotel and Leslie Cherfils, IHG (Intercontinental hotel group)
Director of sales for Western Europe.
is unique about the hotel?
We have a unique gem in the Intercontinental Hotel Dieu.
It sits comfortably among some of finest architectural pieces
one could encounter. It has been hard work and my commiserations
go out to the team of architects responsible for the build.
They have managed to keep the periodic feel on the exterior,
in order to comply with the historic city; while the interior
design is modern, slick and scream out class.
use of local and natural minerals throughout the hotel,
even in the darkest corner shows a sophisticated attention
to detail. Each room is fitted with the latest equipment
and the beds are so comfortable that they could easily
trick the guests into feeling like a God and I hope
we succeed in achieving this.
opinion staff are the deciding factor in satisfaction within
a hotel. Can you let me know what sets your staff apart
from the other five star hotels in Europe?
My aim was to get staff that are generous. A characteristic
not easily taught, nor is it a characteristic many people
have. I feel we have a strong team more than capable of
delivering that five star experience. Staff are the ambassadors
of the hotel and they all wake up with a smile on their
faces, with the intention of putting smiles on the faces
our guests. The most challenging thing was to make sure
we recruited people from Marseille as well as from everywhere
else in the world with these traits. I am confident in saying
that we have succeeded in doing that.
Cherfils, IHG Director of sales for Western Europe, gave
an insight into the process of turning the Hotel Dieu into
the potential, ‘go to’ spot for tourist the
the hotel is still a baby, since I have worked on the project
for over seven years. Turning a hospital into a hotel is
not easy, particularly one of such importance to people
of Marseille. We had targets to reach and one was to be
open in time for the culture capital of Europe year. We
want everyone to live the experience and have spent the
past 18 months raising awareness of the hotel. The process
has been long and arduous but has instilled pride in all
those involved, especially the people of Marseille and hopefully
this will carry on to our guests.”
the name hotel Dieu and how does it translates to your guests?
The ‘heart of time’ an adopted name given to
Hotel Dieu’s premises by the citizens of Marseille
is a great way of describing the hotel. Every area has it
own time signature. Walking through the lobby towards the
hotel’s spa makes you feel as if you’re venturing
towards roman baths. The spa is has an attractive surface
and looks to be ample in delivering the relaxation.
Marseille has two very distinct ways of
being seen; the first view is through the eyes of a traveller
seeking relaxation and a quality French shopping experience.
The second a view through the eyes of people looking to
admire culture and the works of those who walked the earth
before our current generations.
unique to the location of your hotel?
you’re looking to relax and enjoy a spot of
shopping, without feeling guilty, look no further
than Marseille. A wealth of French boutiques with
window displays just daring individuals to walk past
without closer inspection, are feature of many of
the streets within the Marseille shopping district.
shop of particular interest is the L'Eau De Cassis,
1 Rue Pythéas. The shop’s staff are trained
specialists in the art of perfumer. They take customers
through an exclusive journey to find a scents unique
to the individual. The affordable luxury facilitates
further exploration into the shop’s products
such as, organic soaps and room smells. Once you are
able to draw yourself away from the many splendours
the shop has to offer, you come across the another
shop of particular interest, to visit in the picturesque
city; a chocolatier proud to be the only of its kind
worldwide. The bold declaration is a testimony to
the local ways of being able to deliver 100% purity.
The create chocolate free of preservatives and any
kind of colouring. The shop owner’s knowledge
and enthusiasm in chocolate coupled with the selection
of ‘to die for chocolates’ makes it a
recommended stopover on any trip to Marseille, however
short you stay may be. Photo:
L'Eau De Cassis, 1 Rue Pythéas by Markus
has been named culture capital of Europe, how do you feel
that will impact of the future of your hotel?
Earlier I mentioned the other way to discover Marseille
is as a traveller looking to experience a great mix of culture
in the heart of Europe as well as to understand the thought-provoking
history which has made the city famous. I would first like
to excuse the use such dramatic vocabulary, but it truly
is hard to describe grandeurs of walking through Le Panier,
without such theatre. Le Panier is small shopping and residential
district in Marseille with narrow streets. Each street has
its own slice of a Marseilles’ story to be told. Engrained
within the district is a fantastic little museum.
it small does it some injustice as the courtyard is vast,
and exhibits another example of breath-taking architecture
in the city. The museum is a definite Snapshot Hotspot.
As you walk further through the culture filled streets,
you come across the hidden, Marseille Cathedral, Place De
La Major. The dense historical streets aid in eclipsing
the magnificent structure. Once there it is hard to understand
how you missed it. A shadow is soon cast over those thoughts
as you stand in awe of the building’s beauty.
can only hope to do Marseille and the Intercontinental
Marseille - Hotel Dieu justice with my words. Marseille
is definitely a destination of inspiration. It ticks
so many boxes on a traveller’s list and deserves
recognition. Marseille comes highly recommended.
Photo:Notre Dame De La Grande through
the eyes of Hotel InterContinental Hotel Dieu (Markus