After two years of inactivity, the hoteliers of Menton are happy to see the return of the Monaco Grand Prix in its usual form. “All hotels are full from Thursday to Sunday“, confirms Thomas Laurenti, president of the Hotel Syndicate of Menton and the French Riviera.
Some establishments have been completely reserved to accommodate the technicians of the teams competing in the Grand Prix. “We have been hosting the Porsche team for 20 years. They have exclusivity for a week”says Laurent Ravail, manager of the Riva hotel.
After two years at a standstill due to the health crisis, it’s a good way to start the season. “Last year, the Grand Prix still took place, but under special conditions. We were open, but the hotel was not full. There was a lot of technicians missing”explains Laurent Ravail.
Added to this period of inactivity is the current economic crisis: “It’s been 5-6 years since we changed our prices, despite the period of inactivity”. For Laurent Ravail, there is no question for the moment of increasing his prices. On the other hand, for Sunday, the day of the Grand Prix race, some hotels display rates of up to 1,500 euros per night.
An exclusively foreign clientele
“The rest is mainly a foreign clientele of regulars who come for the event. Most are Italian, Swiss… But there are hardly any French people”explains Thomas Laurenti.
According to the estimates of the president of the Syndicate, between 4,000 and 5,000 people will be in Menton during the event, and this, taking into account only hotel reservations.
Unlike other cities on the Côte d’Azur, the absence of Russian tourists does not impact their activity. “We have never had too many Russian customers in Menton, explains the president. They rather go to Monaco or Cannes.”
A labor shortage
If the hotels have regained their regular clientele, it is the staff that is lacking. “He lacks arms that’s for sure”, says a hotelier. “Chambermaids, receptionists, in the breakfast services… this is what we were told the most”, andexplains Thomas Laurenti.
One of the reasons he has come across ahead is the impact of Covid-19. “There has been a reconversion movement that has affected the world of hotels and restaurants. Many have turned to the building industry.”
On the restaurant side: Not exceptional, but positive”
The Monaco Grand Prix, a factor of affluence among restaurateurs in Menton? Inevitably a little, without it being exceptional, compared to other periods: “Yes for us restaurateurs, the Grand Prix is ”more” in turnover, it’s positive, it’s a good period. But we shouldn’t expect miracles either, nuance Franck Devergranne, head of the catering branch of the Syndicate of hoteliers of Menton and the French Riviera. It’s not up to par with an August 15 or the summer season which is in full swing between July 10 and August 25. Nor at the height of what we do during the Lemon Festival. But we’re still expecting a good weekend because we’re going to enjoy a great combination if the weather is right: a four-day Grand Prix weekend and a Mother’s Day Sunday. !”
Effect “Mother’s Day” too
Because the Grand Prix and its schedule mean that Sunday is not said to be a good day for restaurateurs in Menton. And this is another event that should save the day: “If the Grand Prix makes us work with an excellent return, especially on Sunday evening, there is no one at lunchtime since everyone is in Monaco. It is Mother’s Day which should largely compensate for lunch time with a local clientele which, in general, goes out and is very present for the occasion.”
On the other days and on Sunday evening, on the other hand, the crowds are generally there. “Overall, we see a lot of car enthusiasts turn up, quite a few Germans, especially people who have rather a strong purchasing power and who go to drink 3 or 4 beers before starting to eat! I remember that in 2019, we had foreigners arriving at 6:30 p.m. on our terraces and after drinking several beers, at 7:45 p.m., they started the meal…”
Fears and Hope
One regret and fears, however, for Franck Devergranne: “The luxury clientele is coming back in force, but is staying in Monaco. We are having trouble capturing it here in Menton. What we fear for the rest of the season for the type of clientele that comes to us is the consequences of rising prices, especially fuel. For example, we know people who come from the north every year for the Grand Prix. For the first time, coming by car cost them more than 400 euros. So we say to ourselves that if it continues, those who come, and who will have had more expenses than usual to travel, will have reduced purchasing power and will consume less on the spot…”
With all the same a big hope: “On the other hand, we are coming out of a difficult period, there is no longer a gauge for events, no more constraint, maybe people will want to let go a little more… We should have a good week-end”, positive Franck Devergranne.
If the sun, which has not stopped shining in recent months, is there.