by Lisa Grimaldi | July 01, 2005

The Salle Garnier

Second act:
The Salle Garnier
reopens in November
after a two-year restoration.

Following the death this past April of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III, who had reigned over Monaco for more than half a century and is credited with transforming the principality into a well-heeled, glamorous destination, Monaco today is in a period of transition, both political and physical.
    A new monarch, Prince Albert, assumes his father’s post this month, as of July 11. Meanwhile, on the hospitality side, new hotels are coming on board, along with other enhancements to the principality’s meetings offerings.
    An initiative has been launched to entice large meetings of 1,800 room nights or more, for which the government will sponsor the following: bus transfers within Monaco for an evening function, a champagne cocktail reception, and (subject to availability) private visits to the state apartments at the palace and art exhibitions at the Grimaldi Forum, the primary meeting and convention venue in Monaco.
    In May, the government announced it would extend its guaranteed meetings and incentives packages, priced in U.S. dollars, for programs held through the end of 2006. (The principality’s currency is the euro; at press time, one euro equalled approximately US$1.22.) Ten properties are participating in the offer, although package details differ somewhat.
    In other news, the glittering Salle Garnier, home of the Opera Monte-Carlo, will reopen in November following a two-year, US$34 million restoration. The landmark building, designed by renowned 19th-century architect Charles Garnier, opened in 1879. The venue is available for private group events of up to 500 people.

Hotel News
Joining the Société des Bains de Mer’s portfolio of hotels, which includes the Hotel Hermitage, Hotel de Paris and Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, is the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. The property, opening in October, will have a business center, 10 meeting rooms (all offering impressive ocean views), a 2,700-square-foot function room and a 4,320-square-foot banquet hall with its own kitchen. Guest rooms will feature Wi-Fi or cable Internet connections as well as 42-inch flat-screen televisions.
    Among the amenities at the new property: a 320-foot sand-bottomed swimming lagoon; the Spa des Cinq Mondes, with 12 treatment rooms, a fitness club, a yoga room, a Turkish bath and a beauty salon; three restaurants and four bars, and a casino featuring 150 slot machines and its own helipad.
    The adjacent Sporting Monte-Carlo, an event  venue also operated by the Société des Bains de Mer, has two additional restaurants, Alain Ducasse’s Bar & Boeuf and The Fuji.
    Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has taken over management of the former Monte-Carlo Grand Hotel and renamed it the Fairmont Monte-Carlo. The 619-room property has 18 meeting rooms, three restaurants, three bars and a fitness center. It is the Toronto-based chain’s first venture in Europe.
    In January, Le Méridien Beach Plaza Monte Carlo completed its Cristal Concept project, which added two glass towers east and west of the main building, creating a new lobby, a restaurant, a  bar and 66 additional guest rooms, for a total of 403.
    And yet another new property is coming to the principality: the 219-room Novotel-Monaco, near the train station and the Place du Casino; it will be completed in 2007.