The art of delivering the best...

Carl Gagnon - General Manager of Hôtel Des Arts Saigon, Mgallery Collection - has held several self-fulfilling positions over the last 15 years in some of the greatest Accorhotels’ properties across the globe prior to his appointment at Hôtel Des Arts Saigon late June 2016. Even after 20 years venturing on the journey of a high-quality hotel manager, his passion and dedication has yet to fade. Being a hotelier and a traveller at the same time is like creating a picture-perfect landscape of his metier. Men&Life had an interesting interview with him.

Can you give us a brief insight into your educational & professional background?

A passionate hôtelier with a particular interest in the “Art de Vivre”, lifestyle, with strong affection for the F&B scene and anything relevant to it. I enjoy spending quality time on the subject of high-end technology, iconic luxurious hotels, fabulous arts and sensorial restaurants.

With 20 years venturing on the journey of upscale hospitality, my passion for this exciting business has yet to fade. A notable turning point was when I became a member of AccorHotels, one of the world’s leading hotel corporations nowadays. Prior to my appointment at Hôtel des Arts Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City late June 2016, I have held several essential positions in AccorHotels’ major properties across the globe.

What attracts you to work for MGallery?

MGallery is comprised of high-end boutique hotels all around the world. Its opulence is dedicated to lovers of life, well-being and culture. Each MGallery hotel depicts a singular different world: a bygone era, a hidden haven or spectacular intricate architecture models.

As a haven of art, Hôtel des Arts Saigon’s “curated gallery” aspect isn’t limited to its inspiring design, but immersed in all of its services. In order to bring an artistic point of view and a classy aesthetic of the highest distinction, the hotel is well-prepared in every details: from the atmosphere and interior design, to the cuisine and entertainment. However, what I am most proud of is the “bespoke” welcome that every guest can enjoy. We bear in mind every habits and preferences of the clienteles in order to treat them in the most heart-warming, dedicated singular way. That is the kind of boutique hotel that I want to be part of: custom-made services for every guest that first comes from the heart.

Could you tell us about Hôtel des Arts Saigon and the overall concept?

We aim to create a signature travel concept that relives the time when a voyage to the Far East was a luxurious privilege reserved for the most distinguished and sophisticated of society. Each touch point of a guest journey is an immersive experience at once elegant, romantic, authentic and exquisitely stylish. Hôtel des Arts Saigon is known for its eclectic synergy of the classical charm of “Indochine Française” with a sense of timeless chic, and via the bespoke “service from the heart” delivered by its polished and devoted personnel.

How do you describe Hôtel des Arts Saigon in one sentence?

A nostalgic journey to Saigon in the bygone era, where the romance of French Indochina elegantly reworked with a modern twist.

What types of rooms and suites do you offer to your guests? What are their features?

It is quite crucial to keep balance between working and relaxing during the trip. Hôtel des Arts Saigon is just like one-stop destination where you can stay, work, relax, and enjoy some time for yourself. By staying at the hotel, you are granted access to our luxurious rooms and studio suites with outstanding services that ensure your quality sleep at night.

Getting away from work pressure and stress, you can treat yourself with special relaxation right at Le Spa Des Artistes. It offers a wide range of traditional Asian and European-style therapists such as reflexology, herbal facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. Le Spa des Artistes is also adjacent to a well-equipped fitness center, helping you maintain your gym routine while away from home. Or you can easily enjoy a glass of cocktails after a long day at our iconic Social Club rooftop pool bar with the skyline view above Saigon. The hotel also provides high standard business services such as dedicated bespoke set-up meeting rooms, or the Executive Sky Lounge with computer, printer and fax machine all provided for business travellers, making their business stays comfortable and productive.

In addition, that is only for “bleisure” market in general. Hôtel des Arts Saigon, as a member of MGallery brand family, we also offer extra values for the very niche market that is female travelles. We take care of this niche market which is rare among the hotel industry. MGallery is a pioneer in addressing the distinct needs of the female travelers, with a special offering designed especially for women: ‘Inspired by her’. Through this, the hotel has been responding to and anticipating the demands of a growing feminine clientele, with exclusive services and special considerations throughout their stay: attention to details through beauty items, feminine touches at the restaurant and the bar, and other special gesture from the warm welcome of our passionate team members.

Tell us about your services and amenities, how could your guests spend time at Hôtel des Arts Saigon?

The life in the hotel is crucial for us. I mean it is important to provide guests with differennt unique set-up atmostpheres. We offer a mix of many things, from quiet to lively settings that guests can choose from.

Everything they may need we will ensure to have them all in one place. It is nice that you can find cosy corners in the hotel where you can relax with an intimate setting like the Spa or have your own privacy in the exclusive area of our Executive Sky Lounge. Or sometimes you would like to find a place where you can enjoy great meals and drinks, with a good vibe or nice ambience, like in our iconic Social Club restaurant and rooftop pool bar with live performances as well as amazing mixology every night. We almost cover everything for travellers in our hotel. Even for those who have their late flights at night, we have the Afternoon Packages that provide hand-picked services for guests to enjoy before heading to the airport.

Art is in the eyes of the beholder, obviously. For me personally art is something that has to be harmoniously and aesthetically balance to your eyes.

In your opinion, what are the highlights for visitors?

We always strive to celebrate artistry in all its forms in the hotel as its name: Hôtel des Arts means the hotel of arts. Guests can actually experience the spirit of art right on their first step into the hotel through our curated painting and antiques collection displayed on the wall along the lobby and hall way handpicked by our owner.

We also host many artistic events in the hotel for our guests such as having famous local diva singers, fashion shows from top local designers or international music performances from foreign artists. That is the art that comes to life, not just art on canvas or on a wall. There is another form of art that people can only feel through our staffs, our services as well as the atmostphere of the hotel; or through culinary journey that bring art to your dishes which presents “Art de Recevoir” and “Art de la Table”.

What is the principal quality you look for in your collaborators? What can they bring to the table?

We look for those who share the same interests about generousity, art and lifestyle, as well as relevant brand values and vision. Naturally inclined to similar standard of luxury, aesthetics and dedicated service to our clientele.

Additionally, we have been honour to collaborate as well with different luxury brands across industries including Louis Vuiton, YSL Beauty, Christain Dior, Lancôme, Mercedes-Benz,  Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pont des Arts to name a few, who evidently share similar taste for delivering the best.

A part of your hotel looks like an art gallery, how does it feel to manage an art gallery hotel, and to carry out the conservation of all these artefacts?

Live here, work here and collecting art is my hobby so after sometimes I don’t really see that as a task of my job. It becomes so natural that this property for me personally is neither just a hotel nor just a gallery. I feel like home instead as it gives me a cozy feeling like just being home.

What types of art objects would you like to exhibit in your hotel?

There would not be a limit for art types. In this hotel, we celebrate art in all its forms. However, as mentioned before, it has to be relevant to the time, the concept and the story telling of the the hotel.

What is your personal input regarding the decoration of your hotel?

Hôtel des Arts Saigon is a boutique hotel, I actually do not want to have too much personal input to it as the hotel’s designer got this sorted pretty good. My personal input is to make sure of what we do had has a relevant story telling.

I act more as a gate keeper, everything curated here has to be in line with the time concept of the hotel. We try to relive the Indochine time here, so some artefacts or art pieces that comes from circa 1930s are preferred to be exhibited here.

What are your favorite Vietnamese painters?

The Vietnamese-French Artist Vu Cao Dam for his spiritual style of painting. This is one of the very special artists that his creations really connect with our hotel. He is the one who made “des Beaux-Arts” in Paris and we have “Café des Beaux-Arts” in our lobby. I also admire artist Bui Huu Hung for his mastery of lacquer paintings. The other one would be the charismatic artist Ho Huu Thu, whose paintings are mostly about female figures, very feminine and inspiring.

What is your definition of art?

Art is in the eyes of the beholder, obviously. For me personally art is something that has to be harmoniously and aesthetically balance to your eyes.

What is your plan regarding events in 2019?

More and more artsy events to come definitely. We have hosted fashion shows and art exhibitions of the country and abroad quarterly. We have frequent savoury events that guests can expect to dine with international Michelin starred chefs with high-end gourmet cuisine on yearly basis.

Last year we had hornourly hosted an exclusive wine dinner with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, which is known all around the world through its ownership of Château Mouton-Rothschild. This was not just a normal wine and dine event as this partner of ours do not just make wine but rather make arts through their businesses and even wine labels. Our guests had got their life time experience tasting one of the most premium Grand Cru wine and millésime champagne.

I do not want to spoilt our plan too much ahead, but we are planning for many more unusual form of art events in 2019 that will contribute to the art celebrations here in the hotel.

Men&Life