“The only thing that I am sure of is that I always want to change direction and create something new for each hotel. I hate standardisation.”
THC: What inspired you to begin Touriste in 2008?
AG: At the beginning I didn’t have any idea to develop a hotel group or even the name Touriste. I was 25 years old and I just wanted to develop my own hotel in Paris. There was no specific decoration, design or even a concept. It was a very simple hotel and I wanted to make it work. Things changed with Hôtel Paradis, my second hotel. I decided to work with a designer I liked to create a different atmosphere which didn’t exist anywhere else. When the hotel opened, it was a real success, both with the press and with clients. It was at this moment that I decided to always find a new designer for my next projects, so each hotel could have its own unique atmosphere. But each with a common principle of mine: to always have the perfect price versus quality ratio.
THC: Did you always have a set idea of what you wanted to create?
AG: Not at the beginning. I have a clearer vision of what I want today thanks to my experience but it was and will always be a question of feelings. Whether it is the building, the area, the moment etc… the only thing that I am sure of is that I always want to change direction and create something new for each hotel. I hate standardisation.
THC: You’ve mentioned you’re a ‘hotelier and nothing else’, what does this mean to you?
AG: I don’t have a specific definition of it to be honest. But what I feel is that I have a real passion for hotels and the hospitality sector in general, it’s what drives me every day. Welcoming people, as we do in a hotel, is an important part of my job which I particularly enjoy.
THC: What contributes to your decision in the design of your hotels?
AG: I’m very passionate about design, architecture, interiors, art… So I always pay attention to new trends and designers who are making it in this world. I love finding a new team to work on each hotel and more so if the designer has never done a hotel before. I think it can bring a totally new vision to hospitality, so I can either let the designer express completely how the building inspires them, or we talk about it together.
THC: World events notwithstanding, how do you think our industry will evolve in the next year and beyond?
AG: I’m really optimistic about the future, I don’t know if it’s for 2021 or 2022, but I’m sure once the pandemic is over we will have at least three great years for the travel industry. I think we can all learn from this pandemic and I hope that popular destinations will reach a turning point in their strategies and change their plans.
THC: Does culture weigh in to your decisions when it comes to delivering a new hotel?
AG: Yes, absolutely it’s very important. It will always be different opening a hotel in Paris than it is to open one in London or anywhere in the world. Culture is important to delivering a new hotel, as it is in life.
THC: What role does creative expression play in Touriste place?
AG: The creative expression is one of the most important things for me in Touriste’s hotels. Each of our hotels has its own atmosphere, most of it thanks to the different designers we’ve worked on these projects. For example, our last venue with the Hôtel Les Deux Gares designed by Luke Edward Hall is a completely new kind of design in a hotel. Luke’s style is refreshing and breaks the usual codes of hospitality.