by Lisa Grimaldi | January 01, 2008

The Paris-based hotel group Accor, looking to enter the top-tier luxury hotel market, is retooling its top-of-line brand, Sofitel, and hoping to attract more incentive business.

Over the next three years, 120 Sofitel hotels will be upgraded from upscale to luxury. Accor plans to make the transition by improving food and beverage offerings, developing unique spas and investing in staff training.

Seven of the upgraded properties -- the Grand in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Old Cata-ract in Aswan, Egypt; the Santa Clara in Cartagena, Colombia; the Palais Jamai in Fez, Morocco; the Metropole in Hanoi, Vietnam; the Hua Hin resort in Thailand; and the Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt -- will fall under the new Sofitel Legends banner, offering top-tier services such as personal butlers.

Launching in 2009 will be a boutique-style brand called So by Sofitel, the first of which will open in Paris and Berlin. The company plans to open up to 20 hotels in this brand category.

According to Ann Shutte, Accor vice president, global sales, North America, “For Sofitel, incentives have been an untapped source of business, but with the emergence of the new brands, we believe we will have exactly the right product in the right places.”