by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2007

At the end of 2006, luxury inn portfolio Relais & Chateaux quietly began letting meeting and incentive planners buy out member hotels and resorts. M&C spoke with Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, Paris-based CEO of Relais & Chateaux, to find out more.

What led you to offer the buyout option?

Our hotels were probably reluctant at one point to say to their guests, “Sorry, we’re closed for a private group.” But it’s much better to say we’re closed than to have one couple and a group of 20 at the same time.

Why should a planner buy out a member property?

It’s a very good value. In many cases, by guaranteeing 60 to 70 percent occupancy, you have at your full disposal all the equipment, including the staff. There is unlimited flexibility and creativity. You can have meetings in the kitchen. You can be in the garden without worrying who is listening to you, because there is nobody.

What makes the R&C group experience unique?

Being primarily perceived as a leisure destination, we appeal to companies willing to meet in a noncorporate environment, and the quality is probably a little bit out of the usual scope of this market.

Note: To peruse any of the 177 properties in the program, download the Corporate Retreats brochure at