LVMH to Invest in Accor’s Orient Express Brand

LVMH to Invest in Accor’s Orient Express Brand

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Skift Take

LVMH will invest to help Accor breathe new life into the legendary luxury brand, leading more quickly to new Orient Express trains, hotels, and ships.

— Sean O’Neill

LVMH and Accor said Thursday they had signed a deal to speed up the revival of the Orient Express brand.

The luxury titan’s move came after LVMH separately doused rumors it would plan to open a Louis Vuitton-branded hotel in Paris, suggesting the group isn’t trying to compete head-on with established hotel groups.

LVMH said it would make an unspecified strategic investment in the Orient Express brand, the operating company for hotels, trains, and sailing ships.

The move is important because it could end brand confusion for consumers. LVMH separately manages the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express luxury train service through its subsidiary, Belmond.

For instance, customers riding on Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express luxury trains, run by Belmond, may want to book stays at Orient Express Hotels run by Accor, assuming the brand was unified. But Belmond wouldn’t be able to help them.

The Orient Express joint venture includes trains and hotels. But will also own ships, the first of which is currently under construction in France, with the partners seeking a third collaborator.

Orient Express began as a brand with its first luxury train trip in 1883. It later became more glamorous after Agatha Christie wrote the detective fiction, Murder on the Orient Express. Accor bought the brand in 2022, but has been seeking capital to help it adapt the brand’s standards to a modern era. It plans to christen the first Orient Express sailing ship by 2026.

a rendering of what the new louis vuitton building on the CHAMPS ELYSEES is looking like with an advertisement covering the facade with construction underneath, shown at night
A rendering of what the new Louis Vuitton building on the Champs Elysees is looking while under renovation, with a facade covering with work underneath, depicted at night. Source: LVMH

No LVMH Hotel in Paris?

LVMH’s plans for the travel sector have been much buzzed about in the media in recent months after rumors floated, especially in the Parisian press, that it would open a Louis Vuitton branded hotel.

The luxury retail titan applied for a permit to run a store and “a hotel” in the largest building on Paris’ Champs-Élysées. In September, city regulators approved LVMH’s request for commercial development on a city block, allowing retail, hotel accommodation, a new basement-level offering, and an interior courtyard.

LVMH hasn’t said much other than that it has “a new project” representing “a new historic chapter.” The group didn’t respond to Skift’s requests for comment.

LVMH Group CEO Bernard Arnault seemed to try to tamp down speculation during the group’s latest earnings call.

“We’ll see with the new Vuitton store that will be opening on the Champs-Élysées,” Arnault said. “There are still a few things that need to be finalized about what we’re going to put in there because I read everywhere that there’ll be a hotel. I’m not personally convinced, fully convinced of that. That’s another matter. There are a great many hotels already in Paris. Cheval Blanc [also owned by LVMH] is the finest. Anyway, we won’t go into that.”

Travel-Themed Facade

Since winter, people visiting the block with street numbers 103 to 111 on the Champs-Élysées have seen that LVMH has put a fake facade on the building.

The shape and design is an oversized replica of one of Louis Vuitton’s Monogram travel trunks.

A Former Hotel

The Art Nouveau-style building it is renovating was first a hotel between 1898 and 1919. A Qatari family currently owns it and is leasing it to LVMH.

The building is across the street from Louis Vuitton’s global flagship store. The new building’s footprint will be five times the size, at 64,000 square feet (6,000 square meters).

Given that Louis Vuitton’s new building takes up an entire city block, there appears to be plenty of room for a boutique hotel in addition to retail offerings, galleries, and restaurants. Paris media quotes experts estimating that Louis Vuitton will pay rental costs of about $63 million (approximately 60 million euros) a year for the structure.

The building’s top floors are said to offer views of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Only for Louis Vuitton VIPs?

Paris media has been rife with speculation that LVMH will merely create hotel suites that are bookable only privately by VIPs via travel advisors rather than being open for booking by the general public.

The logic is simple. Pietro Beccari, the current CEO of the Louis Vuitton brand, previously led the creation of a Dior megastore roughly a block away at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris when he ran that brand. The Dior flagship includes La Suite Dior, a luxury apartment for VIPs bookable only through Dior for the brand’s top clients, along with a gallery, a restaurant, and a cafe. The suite has a couple dozen pieces of cutting-edge artwork and comes with its own chef. Guests can arrange to visit the boutique outside of opening hours.

LVMH’s Hotel Brands

LVMH Group already runs two hotel brands: Cheval Blanc and Belmond, which together have over 50 luxury properties.

In June 2022, LVMH named Stéphane Rinderknech as the first chairman and CEO of LVMH Hospitality Excellence, a set of “other activities” that includes its hotel operations.

Turning Pont Neuf Into an Attraction

A key part of LVMH’s strategy in Paris is to own or control much of Pont Neuf, a central city district by the Seine, to help “elevate” the neighborhood and make it a multi-stop travel experience. Over the past decade and a half, LVMH has spent about $800 million (€750 million) redeveloping the area, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In 2021, the luxury supergroup opened the Cheval Blanc Paris hotel in a former Paris department store, La Samaritaine, with 72 rooms and suites, a spa, and four restaurants.

It also recently opened a Louis Vuitton restaurant at Place des Lices, near the above-mentioned buildings. In 2022, Louis Vuitton opened its first chocolate factory, also on the rue du Pont-Neuf.

Iconic Luxury Brands Running Hotels

Louis Vuitton isn’t the only luxury retail brand interested in travel.

Bulgari opened its first hotel in Milan in 2004 and now has 9 branded hotels worldwide. Bulgari plans to add about a half-dozen more, said Silvio Ursini, executive vice president of Bulgari Hotels and Resorts.

Armani, which has two hotels in Milan and Dubai, aims to open a third one in Saudi Arabia next year.

The Ferragamo family has a few luxury hotels under the Portrait Milano brand.

Accommodations Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of hotels and short-term rental sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets, including international and regional hotel brands, hotel REITs, hotel management companies, alternative accommodations, and timeshares.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more hotels and short-term rental financial sector performance.

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

Photo Credit: Inside a train car on the Orient Express La Dolce Vita luxury train. LVMH is a new investor.



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